Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Superheroes: The Secret Origin of Revisions

Author Peter Coogan has posted this message on the Comics Scholars Discussion List:
I'm looking to get my book, "Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre" reissued. If anyone saw any errors in it, could you email? I know I have to correct the number of Sherlock Holmes stories that refer to Moriarty (Thanks to Peter Sanderson for spotting that), but if there's anything else, I'd appreciate knowing about it.
If you have suggestions, you can email him at coomics @ Check out our own information on Superheroes: The Secret Origin of a Genre here.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

In the News: "Menace to Comic Heroes?"
(LA Times)

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to Michelle Keller, a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, on the topic of digital piracy in the comic book field. The result was published in today's (Monday, 29 May) paper: "Menace to Comic Heroes?" (you might need to register in order to read it). Wired magazine ran a simliar but less in-depth piece last month, as well.

The LA Times story covers the topic from many angles, from publishers to comics shop owners to readers both younger and, ahem, older (that would be moi). I'm quoted arguing for a possibly not-so-drastic impact: "The collector mind-set says, 'I need the paper issue.'" And while I do believe that's true, it's also true that younger readers -- heck, younger people in general -- are more accustomed to thinking in terms like instant access and transferred bits than they are mint condition and mylar bags.

Apart from select features like Marvel's "Digital Comics," most traditional US publishing companies don't offer dowloadable digital comic books. Even Marvel's offerings are strictly on-line; you can't download a comic and take it with you, you must read it while connected to the Internet. In a half-way move into the digital realm, though, Marvel has begun offering great slabs of its library on DVD-Rom: you can get 500+ issues each of Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers, and Uncanny X-Men on shiny media for about $50 per title.

To me, this is a real bargain; and I'd bet if publishers offered legal downloads of back-issues like these at a comparable price to the physical-media digital versions -- that's 10 cents per issue, kids! -- lots of folks would jump at the opportunity. I know I would.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Cartoonists Cover the Classics

An advertisement in today's New York Times Book Review alerted me to this series of "Deluxe Edition" Penguin Classics, featuring covers by a stellar line-up of cartoonists:
I'd already heard about the Candide, but the others were news to me. These are books which should grace everyone's shelves anyway; and these covers add gorgeous, graphic icing on some top-choice literary cakes. Time to update those wish lists!

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Marvel & DC's Super-Hero "Claim"

As BoingBoing notes (also here, with earlier info here), Marvel Comics is again flexing its muscles and asserting that it co-owns (with DC Comics) a trademark on the term "super heroes" - this time in the publicity for its "Marvel Super Heroes Science Exhibition."

Marvel and DC have been claiming and attempting to enforce this "trademark" for many years. According to this link (one of several) from the US Patent and Trademark Office's "Trademark Application and Registration Retrieval system," Marvel & DC claim a "First Use in Commerce Date" of October 1966. Most knowledgeable folks aggree that this claim is bogus on many levels, but that hasn't stopped the USPTO from allowing the publishers to register the claim successfully and repeatedly over the past few decades. Digging around the archives via TESS reveals that all TM claims aren't automatically registered - some are denied. But from what I can tell, they've never denied Marvel & DC's claim.

Apparently, just because the USPTO allows you to register a trademark doesn't actually mean that they're endorsing your claim's validity - they're just aggreeing that, well, you've made the claim (tax dollars at "work," folks!). I suppose if someone with deep enough pockets and stamina to spare were to take Marvel & DC to court over this, the claim's bogus nature would be revealed and overcome. But until then, these two "super-gorillas" continue to throw their imagined weight around.

Thanks to several folks at the Comics Scholars Discussion List for helping me figure out what I think is going on in this situation. Caveat lector: I ain't no lawyer!

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