Maverick Is Their Name, by Martha Thomases
My friend Stephanie is a proud Texan, even though she’s lived in Manhattan for more than three decades. You can still hear Texas in her voice. She’s about as far from the stereotype as you can get, not a cowgirl, nor a big-haired society type, she’s a fine artist with a rock’n’roll heart. And, as you can see here, she has an affection for the rock stars of comics as well.
Still, the Texan remains. Stephanie has a pride in her home state that is far deeper and more profound than I feel for mine. She knows her state history. I wasn’t surprised that she knew enough to send me this link. I was just surprised at what it said:
It didn’t bother us when Ford Motor Company used the Maverick family name for their new car. We didn’t care that Tom Cruise’s character in Top Gun was named Maverick, and we were amused when Madonna used our name for her record label. It is part of the American vernacular. But when McCain and the media placed it in a political context, using the maverick label as the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, each and every member of this family was appalled. We continue to be. –Fontaine Maverick
Did you know there were real people with the name “Maverick?” I didn’t. I thought it started in the 1950s with the television show starring James Garner.
And to make this a bit about comics, don’t you think the young James Garner should have starred in a Spirit movie? He looks exactly like Denny Colt.
In fact, this is a lot about comics. Although I’m not current on the specifics of the law, I believe that the Maverick family does not retain legal ownership of their name for commercial use. By allowing it to be used so frequently and generically in the past, they’ve surrendered it to common usage.
However, just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right. The contract Siegel and Shuster signed for Superman with DC was legal, and DC had no legal obligation to pay them more money. However, giving them a cut was the right thing to do, and, thanks to the efforts of people like Neal Adams and Paul Levitz, the creators received a portion of what was due to them.
Similarly, Alan Moore signed a contract that allowed DC to sell the movie rights to his works, Watchmen. Moore didn’t want the films to be made. Legally, he can’t stop the production. However, the graphic novel is his, the story and the characters are his, and the karma, in this case, seems to be a bitch.
Kyle Baker is currently working on an animation project based on his series The Bakers for a major entertainment conglomerate. He promised me I could announce it here first, but the deal is being held up over the issue of ownership. The conglomerate wants to own the names and likenesses of the characters. Kyle thinks his family should be allowed to continue to own their own names and likenesses. Go figure.
It’s not unusual for a political campaign to run afoul of a pop culture icon. Ronald Reagan famously angered Bruce Springsteen in 1984, when the president used The Boss’ “Born in the USA” as a theme song. Bruce was angry because not only did he not support the President’s campaign (and believed the use of his music implied support) but also because the President didn’t seem to know what the song was actually about.
More recently, John Mellencamp and Jackson Browne have asked the McCain campaign to stop using their material. Browne took it to court.
It’s interesting to me that the supposedly pro-capitalist Republican Party has so little respect for intellectual property. Because they sure as hell have a lot of respect for all other forms of property. Apparently, when it comes to artists and, now, investment banking, Republicans are socialists.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess of ComicMix, signed a work-for-hire contract for Dakota North, but still thinks Marvel should offer her a mini-series.