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Comic Book Legends Revealed #350

Welcome to the three hundredth and fiftieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Today, discover whether Marvel sued Dave Sim over his usage of the Wolverine parody Wolveroach, marvel at a lawsuit involving a billboard of all things in the Spider-Man movie and learn just who is Speed Gordon!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and forty-nine.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Marvel sued Dave Sim over his use of the character Wolveroach.

STATUS: False

After last week’s discussion of the X-Men character S’ym, a lot of people wanted to talk about Wolveroach. If you look throughout the internet, you’ll find a lot of mention of Dave Sim being sued by Marvel Comics over the use of the character Wolveroach, a Wolverine parody that Sim used during the 1980s. As a parody of the exposure that the character was getting at Marvel, Sim had the character appear on three straight covers of Cerebus…

while inside the actual comics, the character spent the issues unconscious…

It is a funny bit.

Well, Marvel took issue to the way that Sim was using their trademarked character, and in Cerebus #61, Sim printed a cease and desist letter from Marvel’s lawyers…

Now, initially, Sim was irked over all of this…

but after speaking with Jim Shooter at a convention, Sim realized that Marvel really did have a point. As he himself later noted in 1984, if Marvel suddenly started making S’ym comic books, he’d be pissed, as well, so the whole thing blew over.

Do note that if you do NOT protect your trademark, you give up the right to HAVE that trademark, so with this being such a notable usage of their trademarked figure, Marvel pretty much HAD to say something if they wanted to keep their Wolverine trademark, which is certainly very important to Marvel.

But Marvel never sued Sim (and they especially did not “sue the pants off of him,” as I saw one place put it).

Thanks to Vinnie Bartilucci, Travis Pelkie and a few other folks for suggesting that I feature this one.
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Check out the latest Baseball Urban Legends Revealed to learn whether a movie correctly predicted Ken Griffey’s stardom during his rookie season, discover the interesting role that Babe Ruth played in the institution of the trade deadline and shake your head at how a “joke” game cost a Hall of Famer an impressive pitching record.
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COMIC LEGEND: The makers of the Spider-Man film were sued over their use of a billboard within the film.

STATUS: True

In the hit 2002 Spider-Man film by Sony Pictures…

there is a scene in Time Square…

As you can see, there is an ad for USA Today on the billboard. In real life, though, that billboard is for Samsung.

Therefore, in 2002 (before the film even came out, because the scenes appeared in the trailer), the owners of the building and the billboard company jointly sued Sony claiming unfair competition, deceptive trade practices and trespass.

The lawsuit argued:

Due to the unbelievable exposure and residual value of the advertisements, Two Times Square often constitutes the centrepiece of a corporation’s advertising and branding campaigns. If [Sony and Columbia’s] conduct is allowed to continue, it is less likely that major corporations and advertisers will contract for advertising space at Two Times Square, 1600 Broadway, or Sherwood’s other properties because the amount of exposure and, therefore, the residual value of their advertising, will be diminished.

They also suggest that the film would make it look like the billboard company sold the ad space in the film to someone else.

Later in the year, a Federal Judge dismissed the claim, stating, “‘What exists here is for artistic purposes a mixture of a fictionally and actually depicted Times Square, which is central to a major scene in the movie thereby serving the theatrically relevant purpose of orienting the viewer to the location” and thus the scene was protected by the First Amendment.
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Check out the latest Soccer/Football Urban Legends Revealed to learn about the player who succesfully hoaxed his way on to a Premier League soccer team by having a friend recommend him while claiming to be a famous football player, shake your head at the footballer who was injured before he made his Premier League debut…on a goal celebration and find out just what ADIDAS stands for after all!
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COMIC LEGEND: When Flash Gordon appeared in Australia, his name was changed to Speed Gordon.

STATUS: True

During the first half of the century, Flash Gordon was one of the most famous comic strip characters in the world, and as such he appeared in comics all over the world.

A snag happened in Australia, though, when a company began bringing over comic strip heroes like Mandrake the Magician…

You see, there is an Australian phrase “flash as a rat with a gold tooth,” that eventually has been boiled down to simply “flash”. It means flagrantly ostentatious and untrustworthy (here is a dictionary reference to the phrase).

Therefore, Speed Gordon was born!

Amusingly enough, Speed Gordon has now been added to the slang lexicon, as well, as “a fictitious man used as something to emphasise the incredulousness of a circumstance.” Like, “you’re as strong as Speed Gordon!” or “you’ve got more money than Speed Gordon!”
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Check out the latest Golf Urban Legends Revealed to learn of the sad tale of how a mistaken card cost a player a chance at winning the Masters, discover the strange tale of just how challenging the Ko’olau Gold Club course is and marvel at the player who was penalized two strokes because of his HAT!
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Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). If we hit 3,000 likes on Facebook you’ll get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000 likes! So go like us on Facebook to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Also, be sure to check out my website, Legends Revealed, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at legendsrevealed.com.

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

86 Comments

The billboard company sued because the movie didn’t feature the actual ad in place at the time? Even though the exposure showed how potentially valuable the location was? (“Advertise with us and a billion people may see your ad in the movies!”) I’m still trying to figure out how the company was harmed rather than helped.

I’m guessing, Sony took cash from the companies who they did put up on the billboards in the movie. I’d rather they just have filmed the building as it was because I hate product placement in movies. It makes the movies seem dated faster. For example, in the Spider-Man movie there are massive advertisements for the defunct (or renamed or purchased) cellphone carrier Cingular. They’re is also footage of a concert by some singer who I bet was signed to Sony records; it’s weird because no one has heard of her now and I can’t even remember her name. All in all the product placement in the Times Square Scene was pretty excessive.

Well, I guess that makes sense for DC’s perpetual JLA member, The Speed.

The billboard company sued because the movie didn’t feature the actual ad in place at the time? Even though the exposure showed how potentially valuable the location was? (“Advertise with us and a billion people may see your ad in the movies!”) I’m still trying to figure out how the company was harmed rather than helped.

Because the movie company can then sell the ad space in the film to whoever they want and the billboard company doesn’t get paid. To wit, I think it is likely that USA Today paid Sony for their ad appearing on the billboard. The billboard company is therefore irked that Sony is using their billboard in the film to advertise for a company that does not result in the billboard company making any money.

I have to laugh at the thought that Wolveroach would ‘irreparably damage’ Marvel.

Again, though, Schitzy, if Marvel does not protect their trademarks, they run the risk of losing trademark protections on said trademarks, which would certainly irreparably damage the company.

Could have been worse. His original name could have been Root Gordon.

@Rob

The argument is that part of the reason people advertised there was already because a billion people might see your ad in the movies, and that Sony devalued it by replacing a competitor’s ad. They sell the billboard space because of the people that see it directly and that it sometimes ends up on television or even in movies.

Sony made a really popular film, but it was Sony that decided just who got their advertising on screen. This time they simply replaced a competitor’s ad. Next time, maybe they’d replace everything. After all, companies pay for product placement, and Sony could start charging for their film billboards in iconic locations.

And if the building/billboard owners said nothing, then it might raise the question of whether they were complicit in the change. There is also another issue in that a company like Sony might digitally replace a billboard with an ad that the building/billboard owners didn’t want to support. (Imagine if the building owner was an avid member of one political party, running a billboard ad for a particular party/candidate, and a TV show or film replaces it with an add for the opposing party/candidate.)

I’m not saying the building/billboard owners should have won, but they did have a valid argument.

The Three Stooges were to tour Scotland, but over there, “Stooging” is the name for picking up a woman of negotiable hospitality. So on the marquee, they were named The Three Hooges.

Similarly, the original line in Jamison’s song in Animal Crackers is “And as for men, he won’t have any bums here”, rhyming with the previous line “when he comes here”. But in England, “bum” is slang for the hinder, so to save the trouble of changing the line for the foreign print, the lines were changed to “When he camps here / won’t have any tramps here”

Macy Gray was the Spider-Man singer who no one remembers nowadays. And I’d like to think that the random giant balloons Spidey had to wade through were the poison gas-filled ones the Batplane hauled away in the 1988 Batman.

IN MEXICO, DURING DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH AIRING, FLASH GORDON WAS CALLED “ROLDAN EL TEMERARIO” SOMETHING AS “ROLDAN THE BOLD”

The Spider-Man suit was a frivolous one at best. The scenes were shot in public and Sony opted to edit out and replace a company’s adverts instead of paying for permission to leave them in. If Sony didn’t get permission they’d have to do just that anyway. It was a sad attempt of Samsung to cash in on a movie that was guaranteed to be a blockbuster.

Also the poster that was pulled from theaters for having the World Trade Center reflect from Spider-Man’s eye was going to be replaced pre 911 anyway for having the Chrystler building present without permission too.

“I have to laugh at the thought that Wolveroach would ‘irreparably damage’ Marvel.”

I don’t think it’s that big a stretch to suggest that three issues in a row with a character on the cover who looks and acts exactly like Wolverine could lead to confusion in the marketplace.

“…Sim realized that [someone with a different viewpoint] really did have a point.”

Most amazing thing I’ve read all month?

“Flash” has a similar meaning in England–Flash Harry, for example, was a petty crook in the St. Trinian’s films of the 1960s.
As far as confusion goes, Wolveroach looks way more like Wolverine than most of the many cross-parodies I’ve seen over the years (The Eggsmen, Squadron Sinister, Nosferata, etc.)–I’d have assumed it was a crossover if I just glanced at the cover. I’d assumed Wolverroach would be more insectoid.

Bernard the Poet

January 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

Well you learn something new everyday. I never knew that “flash” doesn’t mean flagrantly ostentatious in America. I had always assumed that Flash Gordon’s name was meant to have a double meaning.

Speed! Ah-ah! You saved every one of us!

“I’d assumed Wolverroach would be more insectoid.”

He started out as a Batman parody called The Roach. He goes through a series of metamorphoses parodying other comics characters before and after these issues, but never with covers as easy to confuse as these.

@Bernard the Poet: In America, ‘flash’ (and especially its adjective form ‘flashy’) can mean “ostentatious”. But it does not carry the negative “ostentatious and untrustworthy” meaning found in Australia.

To any Australians out there: How far does the renaming of Flash Gordon to Speed Gordon go? Was the name changed in the 1930’s serials? In the 1980 movie? Was just the title changed, or was “Speed” dubbed in every time “Flash” was said?

I don’t know if the 1980 Flash Gordon film was released in Australia. If they got it, they got the UK version (which was called Flash Gordon).

@Wraith…well it was years ago before he went, you know… Dave Sim on the world.

I presume the filmmakers could film the public space in Times Square, including the advertising, without having to pay the advertisers. Right? So the billboard company didn’t lose any actual fees it was entitled to. It “lost” only a hypothetical: the fees it could’ve charged its client, maybe, IF the filmmakers included its billboard and didn’t digitally alter it.

If it isn’t a frivolous suit, it seems close to one. Can you imagine every company suing because a movie 1) showed its property in a bad light, or 2) didn’t show its property in a good light? Wow. The Empire State Building sues because a movie showed its lax security: allowing giant apes to climb it unmolested. McDonald’s sues because a movie erased its presence from a scene and put an office building there instead. Where does it end?

I’m pretty sure you have zero right to be portrayed with photorealistic accuracy in a work of fiction. If that hurts your business in some vague or hypothetical way, too bad. If it isn’t a provable slander against your reputation, I don’t think you have a case.

“I don’t think it’s that big a stretch to suggest that three issues in a row with a character on the cover who looks and acts exactly like Wolverine could lead to confusion in the marketplace.”

I completely agree. If it were Cerebus dressed in a Wolverine costume that would be way different than a character that looks completely like Wolverine on the cover. I mean what’s the difference between those depictions on the cover and every other actual Wolverine cover? The little bobbly bits on the end of the mask?

Man, Brian, you write more articles than Speed Gordon!

@GENARO

Thanks man! You’ve just solved the mistery of why I clearly remember The Phantom, Mandrake, and Ming from watching the defenders of the earth cartoon as a kid, but couldn’t, for my life, remember Flash Gordon!

As an Australian who is was born in the 70’s, Ive only ever known Flash Gordon as “Flash”.

Im confused about this UK version of the 1980 film that Brian is referring to, is there an “American” version? The one that Im familiar with is the campy Dino De Laurentiis film with Brian Blessed and the Queen Soundtrack?

Im too young to remember if it was released at the cinemas, but they made a big deal of it when it was first broadcast on TV etc. so Im sure it was??

As for Speed Gordon, slang or otherwise Ive NEVER heard that phrase used in my life.

Im confused about this UK version of the 1980 film that Brian is referring to, is there an “American” version? The one that Im familiar with is the campy Dino De Laurentiis film with Brian Blessed and the Queen Soundtrack?

By “UK version,” I just mean it was released in the UK, so if Australia had the film, it likely got the UK one.

So there is an American version?

So, Speed Gordon was used like Chuck Norris is today!

And I would love to see the original trailer for the Spider-Man movie where he catches the thieves’ helicopter in a giant web between the Twin Towers. Such an awesome scene! I was disappointed to not see that in the DVD extras when the disc came out, perhaps now it’s been long enough for that footage to surface again somewhere? I’d rather have seen that whole heist scene than have to sit through Macy “who the hell is Macy Gray?” Gray!

So there is an American version?

In a way, but the American and UK versions were both the same.

The 1980 Flash Gordon movie was released in Australia under the US title. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080745/releaseinfo#akas Also in Defenders of the Earth the name was Flash as well. Since the phrase comes from around my grandfathers generation (I’m australian) I’m not surprised that it has fallen into disuse.

Thanks, Simmie.

OK Im really confused here, so what was the title of the UK release?

As a fifteen-year old comic collector at the time, I bought those three Cerebus issues, thinking they were about Wolverine. At that time, any appearance of Wolverine or other X-Men always went up in value, so you couldn’t afford to miss a single appearance. I ended up getting addicted to Cerebus (getting all subsequent issues).

Clearly, in my case, the confusion helped sell books for Dave Sim. I’m sure I am not the only one. This is why trademark protection exists.

“The argument is that part of the reason people advertised there was already because a billion people might see your ad in the movies, and that Sony devalued it by replacing a competitor’s ad. They sell the billboard space because of the people that see it directly and that it sometimes ends up on television or even in movies.

Sony made a really popular film, but it was Sony that decided just who got their advertising on screen. This time they simply replaced a competitor’s ad. Next time, maybe they’d replace everything. After all, companies pay for product placement, and Sony could start charging for their film billboards in iconic locations.

And if the building/billboard owners said nothing, then it might raise the question of whether they were complicit in the change. There is also another issue in that a company like Sony might digitally replace a billboard with an ad that the building/billboard owners didn’t want to support. (Imagine if the building owner was an avid member of one political party, running a billboard ad for a particular party/candidate, and a TV show or film replaces it with an add for the opposing party/candidate.)

I’m not saying the building/billboard owners should have won, but they did have a valid argument.”

Not really valid at all, because Sony would’ve had to ask permission to keep those ads on screen in the first place. If they said no one way or another they would have to be censored or shots using those billboards couldn’t be used. They opted not to ask, and used computer effects to hide them with another advertisement. Also this is no different than any story containing a fictionalized version of a real world location. Just like if I went and made a comic of my neighborhood and there’s a McDonald’s on my street, I’d need written consent to draw it or have to omit it one way or another. Just like they’re not obligated to give me that permission I’m not obligated to ask and am free to handle it how I’d have to if they say no.

OK Im really confused here, so what was the title of the UK release?

Same as the US – Flash Gordon.

Sim would have won against Marvel in a lawsuit – Parody is Fair Use, and there’s no legal restrictions on what can be parodied or for the length of time, regardless of the media, even in the same media as the work being parodied – case in point Al Capp’s Fearless Fosdick- which was an ongoing parody of Dick Tracy!

Sim shouldn’t have backed down.

Though I do think the Cerebus issues were fair use, I remember when those issues came out and the covers were indeed easily confused for actual Wolverine appearances.

Anyone else notice that the letter to Dave Sim is addressed to “Ms. Sim”? Was “Dave” a gender neutral name in the 1980s? :)

“Speed Gordon in Birdland?” was Charlie Parker playing there?

It’s clearly the work of the Feminist/Homosexualist Axis, Aaron.

I could be wrong(wouldn’t be the first time) but I think the Cerebus covers were Sims way of making fun of how the big 2 had begun to use flashy covers that had nothing to do with the inside of the comic to increase sales. Big flashy Wolveroach covers and then inside he was passed out the whole issue. Quite funny IMO. Like him or not, Sim is nothing if not witty.

No, that’s definitely what he was doing. It is just that in doing so, he ran afoul of Marvel’s trademarks.

Oh, I don’t care either way about the lawsuit or lack there of. I just find the joke quite funny and well worth the risk of being sued by Marvel. I doubt Marvel was too worried. As you’ve said, the cease and disist appeared to be nothing more than a formality that had to be done to protect their trademark.

FWIW I’ve never heard “Speed Gordon” used colloquially here in Oz, and I always thought “flash” was a universal slang rather then just Australian.

Brian, I have to agree with the other Aussies posting: I’ve never heard the term “Speed Gordon” at all.
Flash Gordon – in the film and cartoons from the 80s, at least – has always been Flash Gordon.

A quick look on Google suggests it’s perhaps old slang that, well, no one uses anymore.

Emanuel Ravelli

January 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm

@Aaron K

The letter was actually addressed to Dave’s then-wife, Deni, who was listed in the indicia as publisher. Their separation and divorce colored a lot of the later arcs.

I totally was going to say what Emanuel just did… Late on the uptake, that’s me. But buttler’s line is a good one.

There’s another thing about Cerebus and suing and stuff, and maybe I’ll drop you a line about it.

I think Marvel had a point. Looking at those Cerberus covers, they don’t look a parody of Wolverine to me. They look like covers actually featuring Wolverine.

Does it mean that the real name of the Finder creator is Carla Flash McNeil?

I’m Australian and flash has always just meant something akin to good looking or glitzy that might’ve cost money without any negative connotations (as far as I know). “Wow that car is real flash! Hey darl, that dress is pretty flash!” Or it could be used to mean something quick as in “stay right there, i’ll be back in a flash.” but i’m only 29 so i won’t say it hasn’t meant other things!

Re: Cerebus:

I remember Dave saying in an interview once (or it may have been in one of the columns in the back of Cerebus) that he wasn’t very impressed by the covers of the Wolverine limited series, the Wolveroach covers were his attempt at showing a dynamic ‘Wolverine’ character.
I don’t think there was much bad blood here this was around the time that some Cerebus shorts were appearing in Epic Illustrated (Marvel), anyone would have an initial bad reaction to a ‘Cease and Desist’ letter.

@Steven Caplan
How did you accidentally buy all 3 issues? I would think after reading the first,you’d figure out it was a parody.

Kidnicky – sometimes people buy more than one comic at a time.

I also have never heard of the Speed Gordon phrases.

And I’m still confused about the US and UK versions of the Flash Gordon film, that apparently featured identical content, and title. How are they different “versions” at all?

Regarding different versions, here’s an example of what I mean…

US version of Amazing Spider-Man #6…

UK version of Amazing Spider-Man #6…

Same content, same title, but one is definitely a “US version” and one is a “UK version.” That is what I mean with the Flash Gordons. It was just to say that if Australia did not have the film released on their own, that they likely would have used the UK version, in which case the film would be called “Flash Gordon,” since that is what the UK version was called. But, as it turns out, Flash Gordon WAS released in Australia, so the discussion is a moot one.

Some of these movies based on old comic strips sure have funny names….

THIRD BASE!

I remember Dave saying in an interview once (or it may have been in one of the columns in the back of Cerebus) that he wasn’t very impressed by the covers of the Wolverine limited series, the Wolveroach covers were his attempt at showing a dynamic ‘Wolverine’ character.

I dunno, the covers for Cerebus #54 & 55 aren’t that much more flashy than Miller’s Wolverine covers, and the cover of Cerebus #56 (Nov 1983) is a pretty clear homage to Miller’s Daredevil #189 (Dec 1982).

With a comic or magazine, sure, there’ll be a difference in the local currency being on the cover, and maybe different print ads.

But with film – if the content is the same, and the title is the same… how are they different versions? What makes the version shown in the UK different to the version shown in the US?

Because they strike their own prints. It is their print of the film, hence it is their version of the film. They can make changes (like the countries that change the title or on occasion other little changes, like the closing credits on Bridget Jones’ Diary differs in the UK than in the US despite the rest of the film being the same) or they cannot make changes, but it is their version.

Small countries, though, will often use the actual US version of the film (after the US is finished with the film, of course). And before learning that Australia had their own release of the film, I theorized that Australia used the UK version. Actually, since the film was released so much later in Australia, that might actually still be the case (but I doubt it).

Cool. Fair enough.

@ Andrew

The easiest example of a film changing its content for a foreign version that I know of is Crocodile Dundee. I’m Australian and the version we watched was the original cut, however the American version contained a lot of changes to the dialogue apparently to cater for American audiences that wouldn’t understand the lingo/ colloquialisms or certain humour. I think by and large, most American films are shown in Australia and UK as originally shot. However many Australian and UK films are altered to suit the tastes of American audiences (you guys often don’t get our humour) and to alter slang/ dialogue etc.

Back in the eighties I believe Australia by and large received the UK cuts of films (we certainly got most films months afer they were shown in the USA) as they had completed their runs in that territory.

As for Flash Gordon, I saw that one in the 80’s as well and it’s essentially the same version as the USA cut.

Michael Caine said the film Alfie was almost completely redubbed for American release because even a lot of Brits had trouble with how heavy the Cockney accents were.

@Jamie – I’m Australian too.

The point is that the US and UK “versions” are the same. So they’re not really different “versions” at all…

I seem to recall the Wolveroach issues being valued more highly in Wizard. LOL

Jim Shooter elaborated on the sitution with Sim and Wolverroach on his blog a while back. It can be found here:
http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/08/comment-and-answer-about-gene-days.html?showComment=1314652487146#c4243224519664826772

The legal issue was because Sim did a Wolverine parody, “Wolveroach,” in Cerebus. No problem with that. But it sold well, and therefore, Dave kept doing it. One use of a trademarked character as parody is protected, but multiple uses constitute infringement, which if left unchallenged, can weaken a trademark. Marvel’s legal beagles sent Dave a cease and desist letter. Dave went ballistic (though he was wrong) and ranted against Marvel in his book. When I heard about the mess, I went to our in-house counsel, convinced them that Dave was actually a friend and that we should solve the trademark problem by retroactively licensing the use of the Wolverine trademark for Dave’s parodies for a dollar. Marvel did exactly that. When a subsequent issue of Cerebus came out, I was expecting that Dave would say something nice about Marvel. No, he continued ranting. I ran into him at a convention later and asked him why he did that. He said he’d gotten such an enthusiastic response to his ranting that he didn’t want to stop. And he seemed stunned that I would be offended.

So how did Marvel get away with Squadron Supreme?

Who’s going to pick up an issue of Squadron Supreme thinking that it was an issue of the Justice League?

I get the confusion issue, but Marvel, both in the letter and in Shooter’s account, seem to be saying that there’s a limit on the number of times you can use a parody character. Which I’ve never heard anywhere before. Does anybody know if there’s any merit to that?

It seems like they might have a case that the character as portrayed on the cover doesn’t make it sufficiently obvious that he’s a parody, but that’s an issue from the first, uh, issue, and would appear to be a separate concern from the fact that he appeared more than once.

I’m not a lawyer, though, so anybody who wants to shed some light on this would be welcome.

Loop,I think the difference is while sometimes you see a similar character used to parody another publishers’ charcters,like when JLA fights a group with an armored guy,a patriot,a giant,or a viking,or sometimes they’ll even use a similar character to try and ape another’s success,the fact is no consumer would look at an issue of Moon Knight and actually be tricked into thinking it’s a Batman story.
On the other hand,those are clearly 3 pictures of Wolverine,drawn in a style Wolverine was often drawn in back then. I mean,he in no way looks different fro the real deal.

I think it’s also connected to the concept of Fair Use. A one-shot parody is perfectly legitimate, but three? And what if Sim added another five or six, or spun Wolveroach off into a limited series? There’s not a firm number, but I can see why number might make a difference.

[…] Comic Book Legends Revealed #350 Due to the unbelievable exposure and residual value of the advertisements, Two Times Square often constitutes the centrepiece of a corporation's advertising and branding campaigns. If [Sony and Columbia's] conduct is allowed to continue, … Read more on Comic Book Resources […]

Graeme brings up an interesting element about this. I’ve never heard the bit about the retroactive license for a dollar stuff. It doesn’t sound like something Marvel lawyers would do, and it doesn’t sound like something DAVE would do. Anyone seen any other source on this bit?

I completely get the trademark infringement issue with the Cerebus covers (as Layne showed, they were parodies of Miller covers) and confusion in the marketplace, and Marvel having to come down hard to show they are protecting their TM/C, but from what I know of parody and fair use, the Wolveroach character itself is fair use.

One could also suggest that if Marvel didn’t come after Dave for the previous Roach characters (he started as a Captain America parody, and became a Moon Knight parody, both of which were cover featured, albeit not as prominently as here), they couldn’t really make a good case in coming after him for this, conveniently showcasing a parody of their most prominent character at the time. It’s obvious the Marvel lawyers came after Dave for the Wolveroach covers, but the letter seems to suggest that parody characters in and of themselves can’t be used more than once, and as pointed out by others (Fearless Fosdick in Lil Abner, etc), that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Also, I think Shooter might have a different take on parody than some. Remember, from what I understand, he testified in the DC vs Charles Atlas case about Flex Mentallo, and I believe his take on it was that Flex and Morrison’s work in general was not parodic, so it shouldn’t fall under Fair Use, etc. I suppose the court sided with that view in that case, though.

I completely get the trademark infringement issue with the Cerebus covers (as Layne showed, they were parodies of Miller covers) and confusion in the marketplace, and Marvel having to come down hard to show they are protecting their TM/C, but from what I know of parody and fair use, the Wolveroach character itself is fair use.

Oh yeah, the character itself was fine.

I was referring to how the lawyers and Shooter seemed to be terming it, though.

From what Graeme quoted from Shooter (which is similar in wording to the letter you scanned in the post):

“One use of a trademarked character as parody is protected, but multiple uses constitute infringement”

Which to me implies that one use of Wolveroach was okay, but to appear more than once wasn’t. Which seems to me to be a lawyerly overreach on Marvel’s part.

Again, while they weren’t as prominently featured as the 54-56 covers, Captain Cockroach and Moon Roach WERE on Cerebus covers (can’t remember which issue for Capt — 21, I think?, and Moon Roach was on a couple around 31-32), and should therefore have been gone after as well, particularly Moon Roach in being a multiple appearance character.

I suppose what I was getting at was that the perfectly legitimate claim that Marvel had that Dave had overreached in the 54-56 covers possibly creating market confusion et al seemed to be conflated by them to include the use, period, of parody characters, which to me seems an overreach.

Actually, I mentioned the Flex Mentallo case, and wasn’t that similar, in that the use of the character in Doom Patrol might have been unnoticed/looked on as just parody, but the Atlas people particularly objected to the solo mini of the character? Which would seem to fit since the DP collections with Flex came out after the case with no seeming objections from the Atlas people (at least that we know of), but the Flex collection is just coming out in the next month or so, presumably because a deal has been struck.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 22, 2012 at 4:06 am

Could I perhaps suggest there ‘was’ an Australian expression ‘flash as a rat with a gold tooth’, rather than is?
I’ve certainly never heard it in my twenty eight years living here!
Obviously, the tense used doesn’t actually matter, but to anyone considering visiting, don’t expect anything other than a blank stare if you use it!
(The dictionary in use sites a use just over a decade ago from John Clarke… He’s a satirist, very funny guy, and was almost certainly using it because it was an outdated expression. Or he used it because he’s from New Zealand, and an outdated Aussie expression is probably the height of wit over there!)

2 points,

1) Damn there are a lot of Aussies here.

2) I remember Macy Gray and still isten to her from time to time, but damn I hated her being in Spider-Man.

I doubt Sony would have had to get permission from each of the advertisers in Times Square and I KNOW they would not have had to pay to show the ad as there are always companies willing to pay for placement.

So was DC’s Flash called Speed in Australia?

where is the “UK version” of this article? ;-)

Brian, how many more Twitter followers do you need to hit for an extra CBLR or another Greatest Stories Ever Told? Just so I know how many sock Twitter accounts I need to make ;)

Jeff Ryan – “Macy Gray was the Spider-Man singer who no one remembers nowadays. And I’d like to think that the random giant balloons Spidey had to wade through were the poison gas-filled ones the Batplane hauled away in the 1988 Batman.”

The Batman movie no one remembers nowadays.

I’m Australian, and I personally heard my grandfather (who was a teen in the 1930s) many times speak of the possibility of getting in “more strife than Speed Gordon”. This was the only phrase I ever heard him use about Speed Gordon, but he used it many, many times over the years in identical form, as if it were a standard catchphrase. Speed Gordon, of course, was always getting into strife, at the end of every chapter! I’d guess this phrase, being recognisably related to the character’s attributes, predates variations like “more money than Speed Gordon” etc. I may have read it in one of Huh Lunn’s books, too – I don’t think it was an invention of my grandfather’s.

Having read enough Australian writing from the first half of the 20th century to have seen many examples of its use, I can confirm the negative connotations of “flash” at that time and place. If anything, it wasn’t just “ostentatiously showy” (which might be described as “lairy”) but also with a hint that the wealth thus displayed was ill-gotten. A rat with a gold tooth is a good example of a display of luxury that is jarringly and suspiciously out of place. “Flash” was definitely not a respectable or admirable thing to be called in 20s and 30s Australia! Rich criminals were flash, admirable heroes were not.

I’m not aware if Flash (Barry Allen) comics from the 50s were published here, but I don’t know of any renaming, and certainly they were available here in the 60s with no renaming. Like “bonzer”, “cobber” and many other examples of classic Australian slang, “flash” has almost vanished from the modern Aussie speech. It’s still heard occasionally but with a much diluted strength and frequency.

Actually, a quick google search on “more strife than Speed Gordon” confirms this stock simile is alive and well down under! :D

And I meant to type “Hugh Lunn” not “Huh”

@buttler

Wow. Someone’s clearly bitter over people not sucking it up to feminists and homosexuals…

Jeff Ryan – “Macy Gray was the Spider-Man singer who no one remembers nowadays. And I’d like to think that the random giant balloons Spidey had to wade through were the poison gas-filled ones the Batplane hauled away in the 1988 Batman.”

Tonebone- “The Batman movie no one remembers nowadays.”

Probably because they remember the Batman movie made in 1989…. ;-)

The letter to Sim said “Ms.” probably due to the fact that Dave’s wife Deni was in charge of the business aspects of Aardvark-Vanaheim. When they later divorced she took other creator books with her and Dave kept Cerebus. Her company was called Renegade Press. One of the books was by some dude named Valentino with a book called Normal Man. Yes. “That” Valentino.

And Moon Roach was always funnier than Wolveroach, as was Secret Wars Roach.

“I’d rather have seen that whole heist scene than have to sit through Macy “who the hell is Macy Gray?” Gray!”

Man, you guys pick some weird elements to whine about.
You “had to sit through” two couplets of a Macy Gray song..? That must have been difficult.
I really can’t even unpack this, it’s so absurd. It’s an establishing shot of a party, with all sorts of fun activities like a free concert. Being a Columbia picture, they have the Sony Records roster from which to pick a contemporary singer, and promote the artist at the same time. Everybody’s happy (except you).
What ought they have done instead? Looked for a Warner or Disney artist to promote (after they work out all the legal elements preventing them from even appearing, which would of course have been avoided in using a singer from within their own company)? … Why!? Not only is there NO good reason, there’s EVERY reason to rather do it just the way it was done.

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