Disney Eats Marvel: The Analysis

Mike Gold

ComicMix's award-winning and spectacularly shy editor-in-chief Mike Gold also performs the weekly two-hour Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind ass-kicking rock, blues and blather radio show on The Point, www.getthepointradio.com and on iNetRadio, www.iNetRadio.com (search: Hit Oldies) every Sunday at 7:00 PM Eastern, rebroadcast three times during the week – check www.getthepointradio.com above for times and on-demand streaming information.

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21 Responses

  1. Russ Rogers says:

    From the Singer/Songerwriters and social satirists, Paul and Storm. http://twitpic.com/fzkhk "Disney-Marvel merger is not going over well with certain employees."

  2. Daniel Rodrigues says:

    This is a very sad day indeed for comic book fans. Fans looking for movies showing the darker side of our favourite superheroes are not likely to be seen…that is unless Disney puts that task in Pixar's hands and animates the whole thing. As much as we are not likely to see "Spiderman & Aladdin Save Tinkerbell", we stand to see some integration of Marvel characters into Disney animations, which is a shame.

  3. Duane says:

    Well, let's see…. Will Tony Stark, Stephen Strange, and Nick Fury need to lose the lip fur, since the House of Mouse has (had?) a face-fur restriction in place for its employees. OH MY GOD! will there be a hairless Beast?I still can't figure out how ol' Walt managed to justify keeping his mustache when the rule was made…

    • mike weber says:

      The Golden Rule."The man with the gold makes the rules."I think the no-face-hair rule only applied to people who workeed at the parks.

      • Linda Gold says:

        Or visted. At one time if you had facial hair or long hair you couldn’t get it.

        • mike weber says:

          Must have been more relaxed more than twenty-five years ago, because this weekend marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of my only visit to Disneyland – whil attending the World SF Con, across the street, and i had even more hair (more and longer) than i do now, and my chin hasn't seen the light of day since 1975.Of course, there was a warning sign up at the table where you could buy discounted park tickets, saying that one of the official LACon shirts – (this was 1984, remember) the one that said "Freedom s Slavery. Truth is Lies. Shit is Shinola" – would get you barred from the parkBut i wouldn't be surprised if that one wouldn't have gotten you barred from Six Flags Over Georgia, either.

          • Linda Gold says:

            I'm talking about the late 60's when long hair could keep you out of a lot of places and could get you almost beat to death in New Jersey where I come from.

          • mike weber says:

            Try rural SC or Georgia, where i (not of my own free will – both are good places to be from … FAR from…) grew up.I kind of figured that was when you meant; there is a hilarious Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers strip about trying to get into Disneyland.

          • Mike Gold says:

            Of course, the hippie ban came down about 10 years after Disney's Nikita Khrushchev ban. Nikita looked alot more like Lex Luthor (at the time) than Fat Freddy Freak.Of course, today Disneyland has its gay pride day, which, effectively, is a 24 hour de facto ban on religious fundamentalists — and, probably, the only day I'd be interested in going to the place.

          • mike weber says:

            I like that thought. Hadn't thought of it that way.As the Loan Arranger (a "Pogo" joke that took me maybe twenty years to parse – a centauroid caricature of LBJ) said when a particularly sneaky bit of dirty politics was explicated: "Well I will be dognabbed. Live an' learn…"

        • Mike Gold says:

          Men and women?

      • Mike Gold says:

        I believe at one point the rule applied to everybody at Disney except for Disney, who wasn't on staff anyway. I was told this by the then-publisher of Disney Magazine, who for some reason was trying to get me to move to Northampton MA, where the magazine was being published quite nicely without me. I had facial hair at the time.I noted that at that same time, the Jew-thing wouldn't have sat well with Unca Walt either. I suspect the rule was relaxed for everybody except the Park employees, maybe until after the Paris Park opened. But I don't know and I couldn't care less. Disney is, indeed, the Evil Empire. Maybe they're evolving out of that, but memories of the bastard who ran the place die hard.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful reference to the Air Pirates. That entire case still pisses me off.- David

    • Mike Gold says:

      Yeah, me too. Fantagraphics published a pretty good book about it a couple years ago — Bob Levin, I think, wrote it.

      • Russ Rogers says:

        Levin, Bob. The Pirates and the Mouse: Disney's War Against the Counterculture. (2003) Fantagraphics Books. ISBN 1-560…97-530-X [from Wikipedia]

    • mike weber says:

      "Beautiful reference to the Air Pirates. That entire case still pisses me off."Me, too.OTOH, if you insist on standing on the parapet, waving your arms, showing your but and yelling "You couldn't hit the broad side of a bern at ten inches range!" and insulting Geronimo's mother, you shouldn't be too surprised when some cranky so-and-so puts an arrow through your brisket, either.

  5. Mike Gold says:

    Mike –Butt is traditionally spelled with two "T"s. What the Air Pirates did was legitimate satire. The fact that Disney did not like, or that they (and other professional prudes) found it offensive it doesn't mean the material was not legitimate satire. The Air Pirates were outspent by Disney — go figure; mega-corporation actually had more money than a handful of hippies — and free speech took another fall.One can argue that the second issue went beyond the concept of free speech and into the world of commercialism, because it was a SECOND issue. I think that's bullshit; it's still free speech if the speaker has something to say. Turning the satire into an industry with licensing and such — what Al Capp did for a couple decades with Fearless Fosdick (consistently repeated use of the character, comic books, a teevee series, all those Wildroot Creme Oil ads and signs) might be another matter, but that's not what the Air Pirates did. They published two issues in short order of a comparatively low print run black and white comic book. Maybe they would have done a third. Maybe. But that didn't take any money out of Disney's pockets, it clearly didn't limit their commercial exploitation opportunities. Personally, I think the Air Pirates paid dues for Disney's indignation over Wally Wood. One should note that Disneyland Memorial Orgy is STILL for sale, now in a beautiful color version, at my pal Paul Krassner's website: http://www.paulkrassner.com. $35.00 plus $3.00 postage and handling. Call it $38.00.

    • mike weber says:

      Yeah. well, what Al Capp did with Fearless Fosdick was creeate a character that was recognisably a parody of Dick Tracy. What the Air Pirates did was to use unaltered Disney characters and tell their own stories with them.How far do you think you or i would get if we tried to write and publish our own Spider-Man or Superman stories, using the actual characters and names?I used to own the Air Pirates stuff. It was fun and it was amusing … and i knew when i bought it that at least a couple of the people involved – especially Dan O'Neil, who was actualy claiming copyright on older versions of Disney characters – were sticking something out that they were going to be very unhappy with getting lopped off.Whether it took any money out of Disney's pockets, it is a basic rule that you do *not* allow copright or trademark violations to continue after they officially come to your attention.Wasn't there something about a web site called "scans_daily" recently?I know how to spell "butt". My fgniers don't necessarily know how to *type* it.

  6. Mike Gold says:

    "What the Air Pirates did was to use unaltered Disney characters and tell their own stories with them." It was still clearly satire. Mad does (did) that all the time, but not in an underground comix fashion. Unfortunately.Don't confuse copyright trademark law with copyright law, although a great many people do. The standards and rules are different. The basic standard in trademark law — "Spider-Man" and "Superman" are trademarks, their stories are under copyright — is marketplace confusion. The black and white, X-rated comic book called "Air Pirates" was sold largely in head shops and college bookstores and in areas quite different from those general newsracks that handled Gold Key children's product. From a trademark perspective, in my opinion that placed the beyond reasonable marketplace confusion. As in grandma picking up Air Pirates racked next to High Times and Hustler and either shouting "what the fuck is this?" or slipping it into her stack between High Times and Hustler. Maybe she'd also buy "Slow Death Funnies," one of my favorite comic book titles.And thanks for taking my butt crack in the spirit in which it was intended.Wait a minute…

    • mike weber says:

      No "MAD" does not use unaltered trademarked characters and tell whole stories with them.If they';re doing a comics-related story, Suerman,Batman, Spider-man and the Hulk may appearm un-altered, in one or two panels. If they are doing a "Superman" parody, it's "Superduperman", with "Captain Marbles", into whom boy reporter Billy Spafon changes by saying the magic word "Shazoom!" Or it's Starchy and Bottleneck.There's a reason that the most recent reprint of Kurtzman's "Goodman Beaver" (i hope i have the title right) is missing the chapter featuring/parodying Superman. And that reason is DC Comics and a bunch of humourless lawyers. (And, as i think i recall, the Superman character was a parody, not the actual character.)It is a basic principle of law(yers) that the slightest infraction of copyright/trademark rights (and i am aware of the difference, sorry if i wasn't clear) must be pursued. Last i heard, if you wrote a story using the term "cat" (uncapitalised) to rrefer to a trackled piece of construction equipment (even if it's everyday idiomatic parlance in the construction trades), you are likely to get a little letter from Caterpillar corporaton's lawyers, pointing out that "Cat®" is a registered trademark, not to be used generically.Ditto "Coke®".Lawyers in the trademark field are well aware of things like "aspirin" (Bayer' trademark) and "nylon" (duPont's, i think) which lost their protected trademark status because they became generic terms. Unlike copyright, which is difficult to lose, i am informed, trademark rights can be easily lost if not enforced.And Dan O'Neil, all by himself, by his claims to own the trademark rights to the older versions of the Mouse and other Disney characters – since, he claimed, when Disney renewed the marks, they habitually used the current image and thus allowed the trademark on the olderversions to lapse – would have been quite sufficient to bring the wrath of Disney's lawyers down … for good reason.I am not saying i approve of the Disney action – i was fully on the Air Pirates' side at the time, and still sympathise.But if you stick it in the meat grinder, don't be surprised if someone turns the crank.As to the question of "reasonable trademark confusion" – i again cite "Goodman Beaver", and add that O'Neil's claim (if granted) would have applied to all media. Did he want to make an animated sequel to "Steamboat Willie"? If he'd gotten away with the claim, he could have.And, remember, while the comic sold mainly in head shops – though i bought it in a regular bookstore next to the Fox Theatre on Peachtree Street* – the Air Pirates and their rationales for what they were doing got publicity outside the hippie-wierdo community.I still say that, had they kept a low profile, they might have gotten away with it a little longer, at least, before the hammer came down.But down it would have come – especially since this was Disney.There was a store in Greenville SC, where i grew up. It had a letter of permission from the Milne Estate to call itself "Pooh Corner" [they sold baby and kids' wear and toys], and did so for years. hortly after Disney got the US rights to Pooh [and licensed them to Sears for the same sorts of stuff and tschotkes], they got a Letter from Disney's lawyers … and wound up changing the shop name to "That Bear".No, i do not sympathise with Disney's attitude.I have no interest whatever in your … Oh. Never mind.A Nebua-award winning friend used to have a t-shirt Judge Dredd. Caption "The Law is the Law" – and the Judge is reading from a huge tome entitled "The Law – vol CXVII – Copyright and Trademarks" (or maybe just "Copyrights").*Though, considering that that store was run by Glen Brock and Joe Celko, might not necessarily prove anything.