Author: Glenn Hauman

Glenn is VP of Production at ComicMix. He has written Star Trek and X-Men stories and worked for DC Comics, Simon & Schuster, Random House, arrogant/MGMS and Apple Comics. He's also what happens when a Young Turk of publishing gets old.
Oh, The Place We Boldly Stop.
1

Oh, The Place We Boldly Stop.

The Dr. Seuss Enterprises lawsuit against us is finally over.

In August 2016, we put up a Kickstarter for Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!, a mash-up of Star Trek and Dr. Seuss to be written by David Gerrold, drawn by Ty Templeton, edited by Glenn Hauman, and published by ComicMix LLC later that year. DSE sent us a cease and desist letter on September 27, 2016. (Yes, the legal wrangling lasted longer than the Enterprise’s original five-year mission.) DSE filed a DMCA motion to take down the Kickstarter campaign on October 7, and filed suit against us on November 10, 2016, alleging copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition.

We put up a good fight. We defeated the trademark infringement and unfair competition claims, and that win was affirmed on appeal. We also won summary judgment on the claim of copyright infringement, though that was reversed on appeal. The court set a pretrial schedule in September 2021 and we were well positioned to have a jury resolve whether or not you could see this book.

And yet, today we’re announcing that we and DSE submitted a proposed consent judgment for the suit, and that the Honorable Judge Janis L. Sammartino granted it on Friday, October 8, 2021 and closed the case.

Why? The simple truth is— we ran out of time.

This past year, Ty was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer. This has required him to undergo months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, just to prepare him for the needed surgery—which will then require weeks of recuperation until he recovers enough to go through six MORE months of chemo and radiation, and then MORE surgery after that. This has affected his ability to work, to draw, and to do any of the things an immunocompromised person shouldn’t do, especially in the middle of a global pandemic.

And the trial schedule would have been smack in the middle of all of that. After five years of sometimes ridiculous litigation and with the pre-trial deadlines looming, as Ty’s collaborators and friends, we refused to put him through any additional stress that could in any way impinge on his health and recovery. To the credit of the people at DSE, they didn’t want to put Ty through that either. So we joined in a motion to end the suit the day before Ty’s surgery, in order to alleviate the less serious pain in his ass so he can deal with the far more lethal and literal pain in his ass.

In the consent judgment, DSE concedes some of our defenses and we concede some of their claims. Unfortunately, the terms stipulate that even though the book is complete, we won’t be able to present Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go! to you for another forty years, when the Dr. Seuss copyrights are set to expire and his books enter the public domain. (We can start taking preorders in January 2062, so set your calendar reminders now.)

We still passionately believe in and stand for creators’ rights, including fair use, and we still maintain that Boldly is a fair use that could not have harmed DSE in any way, now, five years ago, or in forty years. Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’s view of fair use makes it very difficult to overcome a well-heeled copyright holding corporation if it wants to stand in the way (anyone who thinks “corporations are people” has never seen a corporation in a cancer ward) and they decided that the book was over the line. We’re looking forward to the day when you can finally see the full book for yourself and make your own determination about it—until then, it’s like writing a book report by just looking at the cover, never seeing what’s inside.

It has been a long five-year mission filled with many absurdities. At one point, Universal Pictures asked us to help promote “The Grinch” DVD release, so DSE could make more money to bash over our heads. At another point, DSE paid an “expert witness” who got an artist to redraw our book in the most dreadful way imaginable, and then did a trademark survey asking shopping mall customers to compare Ty’s artful mix of Seuss and Trek with that hack job. We’re still wondering how our book referencing a single illustration from How The Grinch Stole Christmas could have taken “the heart of the work,” as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals thought, when the illustration in question shows neither the Grinch, Christmas, or anything being stolen. And less than thirty-six hours after the Ninth Circuit reversed the fair use ruling, we got to watch Saturday Night Live air a sketch about the Grinch in a Whoville three-way, with nary a peep from DSE.

We’re also grimly amused about how we had to fight a fair use case while DSE’s own publisher, Penguin Random House, put out their own unauthorized parody, Oh, The Meetings You’ll Go To! (Although there is some question as to whether or not Meetings is officially sanctioned by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, as the copyright page of Meetings makes no mention of a DSE license, yet this since deleted tweet from Eric Nelson on August 4th, 2020 says otherwise…)

But when we were sued two days after Election Day 2016, we knew that letting anyone with lots of money, name recognition, and power have the ability to shut down even the gentlest of parodies and mildest of commentaries about them unchallenged was an extremely bad precedent to set for the future—if for no other reason that we make up for one another’s biases by being able to criticize each other, whether we are children’s book authors or circuit court judges.

We can take satisfaction in many of the victories and precedents this case has set, including:

  • The Ninth Circuit made it explicit that mash-ups can be fair use. (Just not, apparently, ours.)
  • The District Court’s summary judgment ruling held that there are no exclusive trademark rights in an artistic style, or a distinctive font or typeface.
  • In fact, the trademark infringement and unfair competition claims wound up a total rout. They were dismissed based on nominative fair use in 2017. DSE renewed them, and we won judgment on the pleadings over its claims about the book’s title based on the Rogers/First Amendment test in 2018. We won the “that’s not even a thing” issue over the Seussian art style and typeface in 2019. And in 2020 the Ninth Circuit affirmed everything under Rogers and the First Amendment.

While we’re not entirely pleased with the case’s outcome, we remember the words of historian Richard Hofstadter, who observed that sometimes people must “endure error in the interest of social peace.” If we were ultimately unable to persuade the Ninth Circuit to reduce the amount of error involved in determining fair use for creators, we’ve done what we can to forge a path for future fair use activists.

There are many people we’d like to thank for helping us go boldly, as we believe that, as our book says, no one goes forward alone. First and foremost: our lead attorney Dan Booth of Dan Booth Law, who fought the good fight with the strength of a hundred lawyers against a firm with four thousand lawyers. We also give thanks to Michael Licari, now in-house counsel at Veteran Benefits Guide, Dan Halimi, now at Halimi Law Firm, T.C. Johnston at Internet Law, Joanna Ardalan of OneLLP, who appealed our case to the Supreme Court, and Ken White of Brown White & Osborn LLP, who sent up the Popehat signal that brought us much needed assistance in the first place. And we thank Dr. Joshua Gans, our expert witness, who generously donated his time and testimony and worked under ridiculous constraints.

We’d also like to thank the people who filed amici briefs taking our side:

Francesca Coppa, Stacey L. Dogan, Deborah R. Gerhardt, Leah Chan Grinvald, Michael Grynberg, Mark A. Lemley, Jessica Litman, Lydia Loren, David Mack, William McGeveran, Mark P. McKenna, Lisa P. Ramsey, Pamela Samuelson, Jessica Silbey, Rebecca Tushnet, Magdalene Visaggio, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Organization For Transformative Works, Public Knowledge, and their counsel Chris Bavitz, Mason Kortz, Phillip R. Malone, Meredith Rose, Eric Stallman, and Kit Walsh.

And we’d like to also thank Mike Gold, Martha Thomases, Brandy Hauman, Keiren Smith, Pam Hauman, Shann Dornhecker, Mark Treitel, Joshua Masur, Katherine Trendacosta, Heidi Tandy, Meredith Rose, Brian Jay Jones, Mike Godwin, Margot Atwell, Camilla Zhang, Oriana Leckert, Allison Adler, Michael C. Donaldson, Film Independent, the International Documentary Association, and Steve Saffel.

We’d very much like to thank United States District Judge Janis L. Sammartino, who presided over our case with patience, fairness, wisdom, and thoughtfulness, and all of the staff that supported her.

And finally, we’d like to thank all of the Kickstarter backers who wanted to make this book a reality, all the supporters who helped cover (the start of) our legal expenses, and all of the journalists and scholars who followed and reported on our case. We are grateful for your generosity and faith, and are very disappointed that we can’t show you what you’ve been waiting years to see. At least not yet.

For those interested, the case is Dr. Seuss Enterprises LP v. ComicMix LLC et al.,; case number 3:16-cv-02779 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and case number 19-55348, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


P.S.: There’s two more last minute “thank yous.” The proposed consent judgment was submitted this past Tuesday, October 5. On Wednesday, October 6, Ty had his surgery, which went well. And on Thursday, October 7, two guys joined David and Glenn in sending get-well notes to Ty—a Mr. Shatner and a Mr. Takei.

Thanks, captains.


John Paul Leon: 1972-2021

John Paul Leon: 1972-2021

John Paul Leon: 1972-2021

John Paul Leon, groundbreaking artist on Static and Earth X, died Saturday after an 14-year battle with cancer at the age of 49.

He majored in illustration at New York’s School of Visual Arts, studying under artists such as Will Eisner, Walter Simonson, and Jack Potter. It was during this time that he received his first professional comics job, illustrating the Dark Horse Comics miniseries RoboCop: Prime Suspect (October 1992). By his junior year he was given the job as the inaugural artist on the DC Comics/Milestone ongoing series Static (June 1993), his first breakout work, which Simonson agreed would serve as Leon’s course work for that semester.

Michael Davis, Milestone Media co-founder and co-creator of Static, posted his thoughts in a video on Instragram: “I can’t breathe. I’m a writer who can’t write about John now it’s too painful.”

Collaborators and studio-mates Tommy Lee Edwards and Bernard Chang have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a trust for his daughter’s future education. Go there to read more about John and his legacy.

Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

“The Suicide Squad” new trailer has a BIG Easter Egg for c

“The Suicide Squad” new trailer has a BIG Easter Egg for comics fans

Hey, we just got a new trailer for The Suicide Squad, which will be in theaters and streaming on HBOMax August 6th! Let’s see if you can spot the BIG Easter egg. Go watch it, then come back here…

All done? Fun, huh? But what Easter egg am I talking about? It’s this:

In the trailer, we see Savant, played by Michael Rooker, getting a bomb implanted in him so that Amanda Waller can keep him in line– do anything she doesn’t like, and BOOM!

But who’s doing the implanting? Dr. Fitzgibbon, that kindly old gent on the right who looks like he wouldn’t harm a fly?

Why, that’s John Ostrander, ComicMix columnist and creator of the Suicide Squad and Amanda Waller. He’s quite literally the guy who killed off at least 18 members of the Squad and maimed so many more. So it makes perfect sense that James Gunn would reach out and bring John (who’s a gifted actor in his own right) to inflict further damage onto these poor actors.

Come to think of it, it reminds us of the first issue of Suicide Squad where John killed off an entire airport full of actors.

Here’s the official statement:

Check it out, sucka! “Batman: Soul of the Dragon” coming soon to

Check it out, sucka! “Batman: Soul of the Dragon” coming to DVD, VOD

We just wish Dennis O’Neil were here to see this.

Bruce Timm takes the Dark Knight back to the 1970s for a supernatural-laden martial arts extravaganza in Batman: Soul Of The Dragon, the next entry in the popular series of the DC Universe Movies.

Set in the midst of the swinging 1970s, this Elseworlds adventure finds Bruce Wayne training under a master sensei. It is here that Bruce, along with other elite students, is forged in the fire of the martial arts discipline. The lifelong bonds they form will be put to the test when a deadly menace arises from their past. It will take the combined efforts of Batman, world-renowned martial artists Richard Dragon, Ben Turner, and Lady Shiva and their mentor O-Sensei to battle the monsters of this world and beyond!

Comics fans are well aware of Richard Dragon, who was created by Dennis O’Neil and James R. Berry in the novel Kung Fu Master, Richard Dragon: Dragon’s Fists (1974) under the pseudonym “Jim Dennis”. O’Neil later adapted the character for DC Comics in the comic book Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter, along with Ben Turner aka Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva.

The ensemble cast features a core group of actors playing martial arts students-turned-heroes in David Giuntoli (Grimm, A Million Little Things) as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Mark Dacascos (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Iron Chef America, Hawaii Five-0) as Richard Dragon, Kelly Hu (Arrow, X2: X-Men United) as Lady Shiva and Michael Jai White (reprising his role from Arrow) as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger. Their mentor O-Sensei is voiced by James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China, Blade Runner). Josh Keaton (Voltron: Legendary Defender; Green Lantern: The Animated Series) is featured as Jeffrey Burr, and additional voices are provided by veteran Voice Over actors Grey Griffin, Chris Cox, Erica Luttrell, Robin Atkin Downes, Patrick Seitz, Jamie Chung, and Eric Bauza.

Sam Liu (Reign of the Supermen, Batman: The Killing Joke) is Producer and Director of Batman: Soul Of The Dragon, utilizing a script by Jeremy Adams (Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge). Michael Uslan is Executive Producer. Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Whisper, Superman: Red Son) and Sam Register are Executive Producers.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film will be released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting January 12, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and Blu-ray on January 26, 2021. The film is rated R for some violence.

Finally, a movie that Alan Moore (probably) won’t disavow…

…because he not only wrote it himself, he’s in it. Watch the trailer for The Show:

  • Official selection 53 Sitges Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya
  • Official selection 2020 SXSW Film Festival

From the mind of Alan Moore comes a new feature film directed by Mitch Jenkins starring Tom Burke, Siobhan Hewlett, Alan Moore, Ellie Bamber, Darrell D’Silva, Richard Dillane, Christopher Fairbank, and Sheila Atim.

A frighteningly focussed man of many talents, passports and identities arrives at England’s broken heart, a haunted midlands town that has collapsed to a black hole of dreams, only to find that this new territory is as at least as strange and dangerous as he is. Attempting to locate a certain person and a certain artefact for his insistent client, he finds himself sinking in a quicksand twilight world of dead Lotharios, comatose sleeping beauties, Voodoo gangsters, masked adventurers, unlikely 1930s private eyes and violent chiaroscuro women…and this is Northampton when it’s still awake. Once the town closes its eyes there is another world entirely going on beneath the twitching lids, a world of glittering and sinister delirium much worse than any social or economic devastation. Welcome to the British nightmare, with its gorgeous flesh, its tinsel and its luminous light-entertainment monsters; its hallucinatory austerity.

In other words, for those who thought JERUSALEM made too much sense.

Joe Sinnott: 1926-2020

Joe Sinnott: 1926-2020

Joe Sinnott, award winning artist best known for his long stint inking Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four from 1965 to 1981, has died at the age of 93.

During his 60 years as a Marvel freelancer and then salaried artist working from home, Sinnott inked virtually every major Marvel title, with notable runs on The Avengers, The Defenders and Thor. Stan Lee cited Sinnott as the company’s most in-demand inker: “To most pencilers, having Joe Sinnott ink their artwork was tantamount to grabbing the brass ring.” Sinnott’s art appeared on two US Postal Service commemorative stamps in 2007, and he continued to ink The Amazing Spider-Man Sunday comic strip until his retirement in 2019.

Listing the awards he won over his illustrious illustrating career would take pages, so we’ll limit ourselves to the award named after him: In his honor, the Inkwell’s Hall of Fame Award was dubbed the “Inkwell Award Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award” or the “Joe Sinnott Award.”

Joe and his late wife Betty had four children, Joe Jr., Linda (deceased), Kathy, and Mark; four grandchildren, Chris, Malissa, Dorian, and Trevor; and seven great-grandchildren, Vinnie, Joey, Tyler, Jack, Elizabeth, Mariah, and Madison.

We highly recommend visiting his website for more information. Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans worldwide.