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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #192

This is the one-hundred and ninety-second in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and ninety-one.

A bit of a theme this week (well, two out of three ain’t bad!) – the theme of litigiousness!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Archie Comics forced a satirical play about the Archie Characters to cease using the actual names of the characters.

STATUS: True

The case of “Archie’s Weird Fantasy” is an interesting exercise on what is a protected parody. Most folks are familiar with the famous court decision where 2 Live Crew was allowed to use a substantial amount of Roy Orbison’s song “Oh, Pretty Woman” in doing their commercial parody song, “Pretty Woman.”

However, in the case of “Archie’s Weird Fantasy,” a play that was to premiere at Dad’s Garage Theatre in Atlanta in April of 2003, the production company were a bit unclear about whether their work would qualify for parody fair use protection.

The play was about Archie and the rest of his gang growing up and dealing with their sexual identities, particularly Archie dealing with coming out as gay, and the appeal of going back to Riverdale, which in the play would be synonymous with going into the closet.

Along the way, Archie gets involved with Leopold and Loeb, Jimmy Olsen and EC Comics in comedic (and some not so comedic) ways. The EC Comics section of the play allows for an examination of the anti-comic book hysteria of the 1950s.

In an amusing riff on the timelessness of Archie Comics, the entirety of the play takes place in “the present,” even though historical figures such as Leopold and Loeb are worked into the plot. This, I’m sure, is a commentary on how Archie Comics are ALWAYS set in “the present,” whatever year it might be!

The night before the show was to premiere, Archie Comics delivered a cease and desist letter, threatening legal action and pointing out copyright violations that would cost in the six figures for each violation.

Ultimately, Dad’s Garage Theatre artistic director, Sam Daniels, felt that there probably was too much non-parody material within the play to keep it protected as a parody, so they quickly changed the name of the play to Weird Comic Book Fantasy, and Archie Andrews became Buddy Baxter, Riverdale became Rockville, etc. etc.

Almost exactly two years later, the playwright adapted the play into a new play called The Golden Age, using much of the same material, but this time in his control (as opposed to one night before a show’s debut having to re-name all the characters). The New York Times reviewed The Golden Age very favorably here.

I’m, of course, dancing around the playwright’s name a bit, and that’s because it is interesting to note that his interest in comic books in his plays drew attention from Marvel Comics, and they hired him to do a new Fantastic Four series back in 2004, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has been one of the best writers working at Marvel ever since!

So I guess the whole thing had a happy ending!

Thanks to Curt Holman for the information behind this piece! Check out his entertainment articles here!

COMIC LEGEND: Mike Zeck and Rick Leonardi co-designed Spider-Man’s black costume.

STATUS: I’m Going with False

Awhile back, T asked (and I believe others have asked this over the years) about who did what with the design of Spider-Man’s black costume – the costume is often credited as designed by Mike Zeck and Rick Leonardi and sometimes it is credited as designed by Mike Zeck alone.

I am going to come down on the side of saying it was designed by Mike Zeck, but I’ll lay out the entire sequence and let you folks decide for yourselves, really.

Okay, so first off, Zeck was asked to design a new black costume for Spider-Man to be introduced in Secret Wars (which Zeck was drawing).

He sketched out the costume for his later use (the same design he used for Spider-Woman’s costume).

However, since the costume was going to be appearing in the Spider-Man books BEFORE Zeck actually got around to introducing the costume IN Secret Wars, Marvel needed a traditional turnaround view drawing of the design.

A turnaround view is just what it sounds like, a view of the character from the front, the back and the side.

This is so that other artists can use the model sheet for when they draw the character.

Now Zeck was drawing Secret Wars at the time, and as you may or may not recall, he was way behind schedule, even before the book was released he was running behind schedule (they ended up having a fill-in artist for a couple of issues of the series to allow him to catch up, and even then, we had the last issue be filled with a multitude of inkers). So Jim Shooter was not going to give him anything extra to do while he was working on the series.

So in enters Rick Leonardi.

Leonardi then does the model sheet for the new black costume, and Marvel later publishes said model sheet in Marvel Age, which forever solidifies Leonardi’s name in fan’s minds as “that dude who designed Spider-Man’s costume.”

Thanks to Will Shyne, who posted a copy of the drawings (courtesy of a Wizard Spider-Man book) on his blog, here are the Leonardi turnaround drawings (click to enlarge)

So does the translation of a sketch into a model sheet count as co-designing? Obviously, Zeck’s sketch was just preliminary, but the design is not exactly an intricate one. It is a simple design, so would a preliminary sketch count as the design?

I say yes.

Leonardi may have been the first one to flesh out the original design, but the original design was Zeck’s and I feel it remains Zeck’s.

I would imagine that Rick Leonardi feels that his development of Zeck’s original sketch may count as co-designing the costume (and I have seen him give interviews to that affect, although he notably never actually says he co-designed it), but I don’t think it really diminishes Leonardi’s contributions to say that the design is Zeck’s.

Thanks to T for the question! Thanks to Mike Zeck and Rick Leonardi (the latter from interviews) for their takes on the situation! Thanks to Will Shyne for the Leonardi drawings!

If anyone has a scan of the original Zeck sketches (which Zeck sold off years ago), I’d love to feature them here, too!

COMIC LEGEND: DC Comics filed suit against a band using the name “Riddle Me This.”

STATUS: True

In 1995, the Denton, Texas band Riddle Me This attempted to file for trademark protection for their name, which they had been using since 1991. They were quite a bit surprised in 1996 when they received a notice of opposition from Warner Bros. stating that Warner Bros. owns the rights to the phrase “Riddle Me This” due to its connection with their character, the Riddler.

1995 also saw the release of the film Batman Forever, prominently featuring Jim Carrey as the Batman villain, the Riddler, and that phrase was used a lot during the commercials leading up to the film’s release.

Riddle Me This actually did a trademark search in 1991 when they came up with the name (paying $300 for it) and they did not come up with anything that would seem to keep them from the name (Band leader Eric Keyes noted “all we found was a race horse and some record store in Canada”).

The suit continued into 1997, and to be honest, I do not know how it was ultimately resolved, except to note that the band continued using the name well into the new millennium, but they notably used the abbreviation RmT on their album covers, so perhaps some sort of arrangement was struck between Warner Bros. and the band?

By the by, their 1998 release was humorously titled “Trademark.”

Here is their website, including a fun cartoon video of their song, “I’m a Cow,” which you can go to directly here.

Thanks to Paul Blanshard for the suggestion! And thanks to Matt Weitz and the Associated Press for additional information!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

See you next week!

66 Comments

Can the Dynamic Duo escape from the Perilous Crazy Straws Trap?
Can that Riddler laugh his way to the top?
Tune in next week fellow readers!
Same Urban Legend Time, Same Urban Legend Page!

Are Zeck’s sketch or Leonardi’s turnaround available online anywhere?

Another of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s plays, called The Mystery Plays, is a collection of Twilight Zone-style ghost stories, but interestingly it begins with its mysterious narrator talking about two houses that stood on the intersection of the here-and-now and the hereafter:

“In the first house,” he says, “one brother kept inventory of all the world’s secrets. In the second, another brother — older, thinner, more cruel — cataloged the world’s mysteries.”

So yeah, the comic-book geekiness ran deep. I’m glad he’s putting it to good use.

I love Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the man knows how to craft a mood in his stories.

The Archie legend is a good example of a rightsholder using scare tactics to quash legitimate fair use. A gay Archie is clearly satire/parody, since the whole premise of the book is that he’s torn between two female romantic interests. But regardless of the claim’s merit, the threat of litigation costs alone can silence creators. A society built on freedom of speech should worry when our right to poke fun at things is eroded.

Great job as always, Brian.

Anthony, let me play Devil’s Advocate for a moment – if a porn movie producer decided to tell a Superman story where Superman and Lex Luthor are both closeted gays whose secret sexual attraction is the real origin of their conflict, would it fit your definition of satire/parody, since the original book’s whole premise is entirely different? Should that porn producer be allowed to use Superman’s name on his porn parody? Wouldn’t this theoretical porn producer be just as entitled to “poke fun at things” as the guy who wrote the Gay Archie play?

Yeah, Aguirre-Sacasa can do mood like nobody’s business.

HammerHeart,
You’ve intentionally gone for a provocative example–porn–with all the moral objections that raises. But freedom of speech must protect speech you, I, or even most of society finds objectionable. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Your example might also flunk the satire/parody angle in a number of ways. Is the producer trying to comment on the subject, or just make money off a character they don’t own? Saturday Night Live is a good litmus test. Copyrighted characters are frequently lampooned on the show, and they have not been sued out of existence.

Your example also has an underlying trademark problem that confuses the issue. The intent of copyright law is to foster creativity. Trademark, on the other hand, is about confusion in the marketplace. A porn movie titled “Superman F**ks Lex Luthor” has got a host of trademark problems separate from any satirical/parodic value of the work.

Long before the “2 Live Crew” situation was the precident setting supreme court case in the early 1960’s, wherein famed songwriter IRVING BERLIN tried to sue MAD MAGAZINE (E.C. Publications) for their publishing many song parody lyrics to some of his classics.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of PARODY being a legitimate artform, and obviously separated enough from the original material to be protected.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Berlin_et_al._v._E.C._Publications,_Inc.
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_(magazine)#Mad_and_the_Supreme_Court

Works of parody are protected, however, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa might have felt that his work may have had a little too much “real” bits that skewed too close to the source material and so felt the heat from DC.

~P~

@HammerHeart- Yes, I think that Superman porn WOULD be legit. Copyright laws are only there to line corporate pockets. A parody is a new, creative artwork that should not be buried under financial constraints. For the most part, creators never see the megaprofits from movies, etc. Why give all that money/power to some Warner’s Bros. suit? Or lawyers?

Besides, most parody porn changes the names to avoid lawsuits…

“Shaving Ryan’s Privates”, “The Sperminator” “Flesh Gordon” etc…

Which is what the playwright ultimately did too, so…

…if [someone] decided to tell a Superman story where Superman and Lex Luthor are both closeted gays whose secret sexual attraction is the real origin of their conflict…

…they’d be out of luck, because Smallville already exists.

Anthony, you’re right about me having chosen a poor example. And to clarify, I’m not arguing on the megacorporations’ behalf either; I just wanted to spark some discussion over the limits of free speech and satirical uses of trademarked properties.

I personally am in favor of free speech. I also believe that when Superman falls into public domain it will benefit the readers, who won’t have to limit themselves to just one publisher’s products when they want a Superman comic. Image can have a “Unmarried Superman working for Morgan Edge as newscaster” comic if they want to, Marvel can stop calling their Superman “Hyperion”, DC can experiment with Electric-Blue Superman or Exiled-in-space bearded Superman to their heart’s content, and every Superman fan will be able to choose the version of the character that best appeals to his personal preferences.

Damn, I really screwed up the italics on my previous post. Sorry about that.

I’d be willing to bet that the first time the “Riddle me this, Batman” phrase was uttered was by Frank Gorshin in the 1960’s TV show. That’s the first place I heard it, anyway.

HammerHeart said:
“Anthony, let me play Devil’s Advocate for a moment – if a porn movie producer decided to tell a Superman story where Superman and Lex Luthor are both closeted gays whose secret sexual attraction is the real origin of their conflict, would it fit your definition of satire/parody, since the original book’s whole premise is entirely different? Should that porn producer be allowed to use Superman’s name on his porn parody? Wouldn’t this theoretical porn producer be just as entitled to “poke fun at things” as the guy who wrote the Gay Archie play?”

Theoretically yes, assuming there is an essential parody element. Parody implies comedic or otherwise over-the-top portrayals so it is quite possible to qualify for fair use if a production uses those parameters. But how many porn movies do you know do that? One could argue that being gay is only a derivative element, much like Batgirl is derivative of Batman, and therefore a porn is not a true parody. A play on the other hand has substantial artistic merit and could quite possibly contain enough elements to flesh out the work as a true parody.

However, DC holds the trademarks, which are not part of the fair use doctrine regarding parody (only nominative usage qualifies), so any such production couldn’t advertise using the character’s names.

Here’s another music trademark issue, but this one was much more clear-cut. There’s a really good powerpop performer whose real name is Bruce Gordon. He put out a CD titled “Hero and Villain in One Man” under the band name Eclipso. Beyond that, the album cover art was taken directly from an Eclipso House of Secrets story, so it was clear that he was referencing the DC character. you can see the album cover at http://www.answers.com/topic/hero-and-villain-in-one-man

DC sent a cease and desist, and he ended up re-releasing the album as “Hero and Villain” under the new performing name of Mr. Encrypto. He’s put out one additional CD since, and both are rather good.

Warren Ellis recently blogged a gay porn with Spider-Man and The Flash, so, uhm…Really, there’s not a point there other than there’s a gay porn with Spider-Man and The Flash.

Public domain issues are especially tricky in comics, because every character can be said to have a copyright AND a trademark. So even when Superman falls into the public domain, DC will still have all the characteristic marks (Superman name, logo, etc.).

Project Superpowers is very troubling for just this reason. What they’ve done is the reverse: mined the public domain for characters that are no longer copyright protected, and registered trademarks on their names. For instance, no one can make a BLACK TERROR comic now, even though the character has been in the PD for decades.

I doubt Superman will ever fall into the public domain and the reason boils down to two words:
Mickey Mouse.
Every time there’s a chance that the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons will fall into public domain, the term of copyright for a property created by a corporation is miraculously extended just in time to make sure Disney retains control over Steamboat Willie and Plane Crazy and such for another X-number of years.
Mickey’s original copyright dates to 1928, ten years before Superman’s. Ergo, as long as Disney succeeds in lobbying to keep ownership of all Mickey-related material for all time, DC/Time-Warner will benefit by getting to maintain the Superman copyright.

Eh, I’m a free speech guy but I can see where the Archie Comics people had a case. I’m not saying they definitely would’ve won, but I don’t think it’s so cut and dry. And it’s important to point out they _didn’t_ win — it just never came to court, probably due to the fact that 1.) The legal fees would’ve been crippling to a young playwright, and 2.) The play apparently works fine without the characters having to precisely be the Archie characters.

I think they had a case because this play was not pure parody — it USED parody, yes, but it was more than just riffs on Archie characters — and the simple fact that when you parody a comedy it’s tougher to demarcate what jokes are parody and what jokes are just using the characters (for an example of this, see every use of the Borat swimsuit after Borat).

Brian, I think your readship might go up this week with all those people searching for gay Superman porn and ending up here.

Great column as always though:)

Also, it is worth noting that the Archie company has never hesitated to maximize profit at creators’ expense. I guess the worst example is their part in the Comics Code. They specifically designed the code to put a major competitor (EC) out of business. Archie’s company has no moral authority whatever.

Another infamous copyright case was DC/National’s totally bogus case against Captain Marvel. Any idiot old enough to say “Shazam” can note huge differences between the Big Red Cheese and Superman. This did not stop National from driving Fawcett out of business with court actions. Did comics suffer as a result of these greedy corporations’ profit motives? Uh, yeah!

Interesting story about the Archie play. A few years after that (but still around 3-4 years ago now) a playwright (who’s name escapes me) wrote a very similar play about the kids from Peanuts growing up and Charlie Brown grabbling with his sexual identity. It was titled “Dog Sees God.” In its initial NY run as part of the fringe festival, it used all the Peanuts characters names, however when it was expanded to a proper off-Broadway run, all the characters’ names had been changed. I’d guess it’s for the same reasons.

ParanoidObsessive

January 30, 2009 at 12:12 pm

>>> Every time there’s a chance that the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons will fall into public domain, the term of copyright for a property created by a corporation is miraculously extended just in time to make sure Disney retains control over Steamboat Willie and Plane Crazy and such for another X-number of years.

While this has always been a great litmus test for the legal issues, it’s been suggested that Disney isn’t going to be able to pull this off for much longer, and are going to have to seek out different legal methods to retain their control over the character.

Archie has a long history of protecting its characters.

I can’t recall, and I’m not hear my copy of the book – wasn’t it Elder and Kurtzman’s Goodman Beaver strip that savagely skewered Archie that needed to be radically touched up for the reprint? And I believe EC’s parody in the Mad comic that got similarly threatened. I’ll research it when I get home, if someone hasn’t already filled it in by then.

Great read as ever.
Is there an article anywhere about playwrights moving into comics?
I know Brian K Vaughn did it, and I’m hoping to eventually.

Anthony, let me play Devil’s Advocate for a moment – if a porn movie producer decided to tell a Superman story where Superman and Lex Luthor are both closeted gays whose secret sexual attraction is the real origin of their conflict, would it fit your definition of satire/parody, since the original book’s whole premise is entirely different? Should that porn producer be allowed to use Superman’s name on his porn parody? Wouldn’t this theoretical porn producer be just as entitled to “poke fun at things” as the guy who wrote the Gay Archie play?

David is close but incorrect. The essential element of parody is important but not paramount. There is a second element at work, as well, and it is where “Archie’s Weird Fantasy” went wrong.

You hinted at it yourself in your comment. “Should that porn producer be allowed to use Superman’s name *ON* his porn parody.” No. But he SHOULD be allowed to use Superman’s name *IN* it.

Essentially, when you go to monetize your parody, you must distinguish yourself from the element you are lambasting — i.e., you cannot directly TRADE off of the established property by using their name, logo, or any other act that would create confusion in the marketplace. That causes infringement because it could directly reduce sales of the original property.

So while, yes, you are allowed to make a PARODY using a property you do not own, you do NOT have the right to cause financial distress to the property rights holder.

So “Archie’s Weird Fantasy” is a bit of a no-no because it too closely hews to Archie. There is probably a strong argument to be made that this title and subsequent promotional materials would cause marketplace confusion.

My bet is that they could have titled it “Weird Comic Book Fantasy” and kept Archie and the gang — that to me feels like fair use… provided they emphasized the larger context of the world and the satirical elements.

“Anthony, let me play Devil’s Advocate for a moment – if a porn movie producer decided to tell a Superman story where Superman and Lex Luthor are both closeted gays whose secret sexual attraction is the real origin of their conflict, would it fit your definition of satire/parody, since the original book’s whole premise is entirely different?”

…Depends on which role Ron Jeremy is playing :-P

“So while, yes, you are allowed to make a PARODY using a property you do not own, you do NOT have the right to cause financial distress to the property rights holder.”

This is exactly why Marvel went after Dave Sim for Wolverroach. He had been using the character in the book for some time, but it was after he was featured on the cover three issues in a row, Marvel had to make cartoon noises to attract Dave’s attention. Even Dave agreed it was offsides, and stopped.

Hey, what happened? I visited this site looking for gay Superman porn. Damn search engines.

There was a play about the Peanuts characters “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” – about 40 years ago – which used the characters, their names and personalities were evident, the humor was that of the comic strip not making fun of it. I presume it was with the full cooperation of the copyright holder.
“Dog Sees God” played here in Las Vegas a few months ago. The “Charlie Brown” actor did look rather as we’d expect a “teenage Charlie Brown” might, the other actors didn’t particularly have physical resemblances to teenage versions of the cartoon characters. Some of the characters were never given personal names but something like “CB’s sister”; those identified by name were never explicitly addressed or referred to by the full names of the comic strip characters. At the end, our hero finally gets a letter in response to having put letters-in-bottles all those years, from “C.S.”

…if [someone] decided to tell a Superman story where Superman and Lex Luthor are both closeted gays whose secret sexual attraction is the real origin of their conflict…

…they’d be out of luck, because Smallville already exists.

LOL! That is so true.

What about the porno “Not the Bradies”? It uses every single character’s name and likeness, and even features a set built exactly like the old show. How is that legal?

What about the Archie/Final Destination parody from the show Robot Chicken? Aired once, mysteriously disappeared after that, and not even a mention of it on the DVD. Those Archie people love to sue.

There was a play about the Peanuts characters “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” – about 40 years ago – which used the characters, their names and personalities were evident, the humor was that of the comic strip not making fun of it. I presume it was with the full cooperation of the copyright holder.

It´s an adaptation. Like “Batman Begins”, or the “Superfriends” cartoon. They do that with plays too.

I would point out that DC/National didn’t just threaten frivolous legal action against Fawcett over Captain Marvel; they took it to court, and a judge ruled in their favor. For whatever reason, he didn’t see any big differences between Captain Marvel and Superman.

That video by RmT illustrates the difference between a Farmer and a Redneck, but ultimately I have to ask the question; is the cow a lesbian? Cows are chicks and bulls are dudes and bulls don’t have utters or give milk. Am I over thinking this?

“For whatever reason”– I think it’s safe to say the reason was that the judge was a dumbass. DC PROVED there were differences by simultainiously releasing titles featuring both heroes. If there really WAS “no difference,” DC would have never done this. Instead, it showed that it went to court to sue Fawcett even though it realized Capt. Marvel was not Superman. It knew the differences, but didn’t care. Superman sales were hurting, the lawyers came out, and art suffered. Same as always.

Why is everybody here so damn interested in this Superman/Luthor gay porn that doesnt even exist?

Will it at least feature a Lois Lane/Lana Lang lesbian scene for those of us who actually have a sexual preference for women?

And to answer OM, it’s pretty obvious Ron Jeremy would be cast as Perry White… or maybe Parasite.

John Seavey-
Actually, DC lost their lawsuit. I’m pretty sure that was covered in one of the older Urban Legend columns. What happened IIRC, was that Fawcett sold Captain Marvel to DC not long after the lawsuit as they were in such dire finacial straits.

Actually, DC lost their lawsuit. I’m pretty sure that was covered in one of the older Urban Legend columns. What happened IIRC, was that Fawcett sold Captain Marvel to DC not long after the lawsuit as they were in such dire finacial straits.

No. DC lost the first round on a technicality, appealed, had the technicality thrown out and won. They were about to determine damages when Fawcett threw in the towel and settled.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Comics_Publications_v._Fawcett_Publications
http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/law/back20001024.shtml

I think it’s funny how “gay Archie” became “gay Superman porn,” like “gay” and “porn” must go together, or are both morally questionable.

In any case, with regard to trademark, why must Marvel be such jerks to DC and not let them use “Captain Marvel”. It was always confusing as a kid trying to explain to other kids why Billy Batson ISN”T Shazam, he just says it. Plus, it’s pretty lame when Mary Marvel has to be packaged out now as just “Mary.”

But, briefly back to gay porn, one can find “Batdude and Throbbin'” available, and although Throbbin’ looked a fair amount like Robin, Batdude’s mask was completely different … but would the company have been able to be sued if his costume (what there was of it, lol) looked just like Batman’s despite a name change.

Also, why haven’t WB/ DC sued for the Supergirl porn out there? Not only is it titled “Supergirl,” but the logo is essentially the same, and it does feature a busty blonde with a red cape. At first I was so enraged and disgusted, and then I was kinda proud that my favorite superhero had a porn made for her. :P

Funny. I just saw an improv show at Dad’s Garage Theatre when I was visiting family in Atlanta this Christmas. I feel bad for the actors in the Archie play. It must’ve been confusing & stressful to remember all the new character names after weeks of rehearsing them the original way.

I saw a Charlie Brown-esque play when I lived in Nashville that dealt with Peanuts-type characters all grown up. The characters’ names were changed, but it was obvious who they were meant to be. Judging from the description, I don’t think it was “Dog Meets God”, though. It was a musical, I remember that much. It featured one song titled “Girl Talk.”

“Dog Meets God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” was written by Burt V. Royal. The NonProphet Theater Company is currently presenting it in St. Louis–the final show is Saturday, Feb. 1, if anyone is interested. Characters from Peanuts are given pseudonyms in their production.

http://www.nptco.org

Conor E

Through the power of the inter-web you can find Leonardi’s sketches at my blog.

http://sunnydaysindoors.blogspot.com/2009/01/leonardi-request.html

Interestingly I’d read the accompanying text years back and had in mind that Leonardi had been responsible for the design but the text does clearly state that Leonardi “embellished” Zeck’s design.

I seemed to remember hearing about a 1970s(!!) Star Trek fanfic that was published as a book by some small publisher in San Francisco, that gave Paramount fits at the time. It was a Kirk/Spock gay fic.

Not quite comics, but I’d love to hear the story of THAT lawsuit sometime.

Then there was the fanfic that led to the creation of the usenet group rec.arts.anime.stories (that would later morph into the group rec.arts.anime.creative when the rec.arts.anime.* heirarchy was restructured in the late 90s). The story, “Helping Hands”, was a “My Neighbor Totoro” lemon (lemon = old term in anime/manga fandom for what’s today’s just referred to hentai or porn)

I thought that the actual first appearance of the balck costume, outside of a story, was in a preview of what’s up and coming, and it was all black with red, not white, like they were showing it off as a new spiderman idea?

Anyone know about that?

If DC reckoned they had a good case for taking Fawcett to court over Captain Marvel, how comes they didn’t do the same thing with Image, Rob Liefield and Supreme? I bought the Alan Moore trade volumes a few years back. Great stories, but how did they avoid the attention of the DC lawyers? Maybe, there is something in the magic Alan practices?

I thought that the actual first appearance of the balck costume, outside of a story, was in a preview of what’s up and coming, and it was all black with red, not white, like they were showing it off as a new spiderman idea?

Anyone know about that?

That’s the Rick Leonardi turnaround sketch that is being referred to above.

If DC reckoned they had a good case for taking Fawcett to court over Captain Marvel, how comes they didn’t do the same thing with Image, Rob Liefield and Supreme? I bought the Alan Moore trade volumes a few years back. Great stories, but how did they avoid the attention of the DC lawyers? Maybe, there is something in the magic Alan practices?

Could be a bunch of different reasons, but I bet the #1 reason is that unlike Captain Marvel, Supreme was not a serious sales rival.

Remember, Captain Marvel actually OUTSOLD Superman during one the years during the 40s.

It’s one thing when a small comic company is doing a take-off on your hero, it’s another thing all together when what you feel is a take off of your hero is OUTSELLING your “original”!

That’s not to say National/DC was correct, just saying that, from their perspective, Captain Marvel was a much bigger threat.

“I can’t recall, and I’m not hear my copy of the book – wasn’t it Elder and Kurtzman’s Goodman Beaver strip that savagely skewered Archie that needed to be radically touched up for the reprint? ”

I think Archie forced them to hand over that one comic and the rights to it so that it wouldn’t be reprinted.

However I think TCJ found out Archie had forgotten to get it renewed and it went into the public domain in the past year or so.

Sorry to intrude with a non gay Superman comment, but I’ve wondered about Spider-Man’s black costume and whether it was always meant to be a symbiote or if that was added due to fan backlash. Anybody have any ideas? Thanks!

Sorry to intrude with a non gay-Superman comment, but I’ve wondered about Spider-Man’s black costume and whether it was always meant to be a symbiote or if that was added due to fan backlash. Anybody have any ideas? Thanks!

“Fawcett sold Captain Marvel to DC not long after the lawsuit ”

Actually DC only gained full ownership to the Fawcett characters relatively recently, five or ten years back I believe. Before that, they were licensing them from the current owners. DC would ask to buy them almost every time it came time to renew, and the company who owned them (who usually barely even remembered they DID own them, until DC came along to renew) would refuse.

Yeah, the whole kit and kaboodle of the DC/National/Fawcett law suit is covered in a couple of the earliest Comic Book Legends Revealeds!

Check the archive out to see them.

By the by, man, it is pretty funny how comparatively awful those early columns are compared to what the column is like now.

“’Fawcett sold Captain Marvel to DC not long after the lawsuit ‘”

“Actually DC only gained full ownership to the Fawcett characters relatively recently, five or ten years back I believe. Before that, they were licensing them from the current owners. DC would ask to buy them almost every time it came time to renew, and the company who owned them (who usually barely even remembered they DID own them, until DC came along to renew) would refuse.”

DC/National didn’t even get a =license= to the Fawcett properties until the early 1970s, almost twenty years after the lawsuit was resolved.

But ownership was finally transferred, after a weird period in the latter half of the 1980s where DC was actually paying a per-use fee to Fawcett for the characters, in the early 1990s.

If I were Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, I would be the most mad writer around. Let us see, he’s writing a book called Sensational Spider-man when he gets a call about his book ‘we’re doing a story about Peter Parker revealing his identity to the world.’

“Oh great!” He would reply. “Let us do stories about Peter Parker and lots of them with Jonah and Robby, have them talk things out. Do a big story about what it means to be a hero and have great bits about how people finding out that SPider-man is this poor shmuck. Stories about how the world feels about it, how other heroes feel about. Stories about Peter in a his new status quo as the hero fighting Doc Ock, we can do a big Dock story. And the Jonah stuff will be great, imagine Peter even working for Jonah again and Flash Thompson finds out that this was the guy.”

Editor replies: “No were just putting people on for a year and half while we do these generic stories. Jonah’s hardly in it and it will all be about Civil War a story that has no plot and cap dies at the end… but you’ll see it coming a mile away. Oh, and you and David will be doing the stories where Peter is still working at a school and you can do the stories about some Spider-people or something.”

“Um… O.K. So when will I be helping out on the new status quo?”

“You won’t be. You’re fired. Also we want to make the books as less relevant as possible so write Peter as the lamest character of all time please. Because what the readers don’t want, we want to sell them.”

“You are the devil, aren’t you?”

“No, but Speaking of Mephisto…”

“This is the worst comic book ever!”

I know I’m beating a dead Spider-man… horse, but that had to hurt the guy. Plus, you take the biggest concept ever and it’s the biggest put on of all time. That poor guy.

“Blackjak: Besides, most parody porn changes the names to avoid lawsuits…

“Shaving Ryan’s Privates”, “The Sperminator” “Flesh Gordon” etc…

um, you seem to be pretty familiar w/this practice… :-O lol

@snikt snakt

Come on. EVERYONE’s heard of “Flesh Gordon”… The others (and tonnes more) were covered in an issue of Empire over a year ago…

Riddle me this: What’s black and white, red all over and coming out in Riverdale? Answer: Archie Andrews’ photo in the Riverdale Gazette, looking very embarrassed because he was outed in a play, for Pete’s sake! (that’s my best attempt to tie all 3 legends together!)

Quagmire70, I would bet that the symbiote costume was the original story, because it seemed very well tied in with the launch of the new Web of Spider-Man comic (which was a great series at the beginning).

Also the fact that the new costume came from the alien planet during the Secret Wars series probably is the best evidence that the black costume was indeed planned to be a symbiote from the beginning.

Otherwise, I’m sure they easily could have had a sequence of Peter or MJ sewing together a new suit, or had Reed Richards make him a stretchy black kevlar costume. By the way, I’d love to see a variation of the black Spidey suit with the Fantastic Four symbol on it to kind of match the darker Fantastic Four costumes they were wearing in the late 1980’s.

Great Legends, Brian! I love me some Secret Wars and those great toys back then!

Talking about Captain Marvel: http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/law/back20001024.shtml

” The judge cited the same type of similarities in costume, appearance, powers, and actions as were listed in the Wonderman case as well as other points of interest, like the fact that both Superman and Captain Marvel had as a recurring antagonist a bald mad scientist bent on conquering the world, both were reporters, and the testimony from some Fawcett employees that they were ordered to imitate Superman.”

Ok, both being reporters is stretching it, and Sivana was bold before Luthor (he became bold because of a mistake an artist made), but i guess the similar stories are enough for damages…

I’m a little late on this (I found this wonderful site a few months back and have been reading front-to-back),
but I’m not surprised DC filed suit against “Riddle Me This”.

I had a successful band in the Northwest during the mid-to-late 1990’s and we filed for trademark protection on our name, “Supervillain.”

Then lawyers from Marvel and DC sent us cease and desist orders in 2000. They were threatening to come after my house because of the harm we had done to the image of The Hulk. I kid you not. We had damaged The Hulk.

(our songs had nothing to do with heroes and our marketing had more to do with James Bond than Marvel)

Marvel and DC does not have trademark on the name, but — after consulting with my lawyers — we were counseled to abandon the fight because they have much, much deeper pockets.

I have a question: In relation to the Black Spider Man Costume, we heard that it was the newspapers syndicates and Stan Lee’s brother Larry Lieber who was drawing the newspaper Spider-Man at the time; demanded Marvel change the Black suit because it printed as a black splotch.

And now Aguirre-Sacasa works for Archie!

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