We know at this time no one feels very funny,
But Dr. Seuss still wants to take all our money.
So if you’re stuck at home thanks to COVID-19
with nothing to do in your long quarantine,
we’d like you to know as a last resort
you can see DSE appeal their loss in court
as the previous ruling they’ll try to impugn!
It’ll happen on Monday at the stroke of high noon
(that’s Eastern time; West coast, it’s three hours prior).
It streams live on YouTube, so watch as their… lawyer
attempts to rebut the last judge’s decision
by claiming her judgement had much imprecision.
We’ll stick to the facts and we’ll cite precedent
as the Ninth Circuit hears our (remote!) argument.
The links are below and there’s bandwidth to spare,
so watch justice in action— we hope you’ll be there!
Yesterday, Judge Janis Sammartino handed down a ruling in our ongoing case, Dr. Seuss Enterprises v. ComicMix, allowing the case to proceed to discovery while narrowing the allegations in significant ways. Buried in the order is a very important point that has implications for the entire comics industry, to wit (with footnotes and citations omitted):
Plaintiff claims Defendants misappropriated “the unique illustration style [of] the characters and backgrounds found throughout Dr. Seuss books, that have come to be instantly recognized by consumers as source identifiers for Dr. Seuss.” Defendant argues trademark law does not protect an artistic style. …
Most courts have held there is no trademark protection for the “style” of an artist. Style is a matter more properly protected by copyright law. …
Plaintiff cited no authority to support its assertion that its general “style” is a protectable trademark. Plaintiff only argues that the book can be subject to both trademark and copyright protection and that distinctive characters can qualify as trademarks. Plaintiff claims the Ninth Circuit has recognized Plaintiff owns trademark rights to “the character illustration of the Cat [in the Hat’s] ‘stove-pipe hat’.” But the illustration of the Cat’s hat is different than the general “illustration style” and non-specific “characters and backgrounds found throughout” Plaintiff’s books, in which Plaintiff asserts trademark rights now. And Plaintiff does not allege trademark rights in any specific character or background image in [Oh, The Places You’ll] Go! The Court is not holding illustrations of specific characters within Go! are precluded from trademark protection, but at this stage of the proceedings and based on the information in front of the Court, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s claimed general “illustration style” is not protectable.
What does this mean for comics? It puts plainly what many artists in the comics industry already knew: you can’t be legally dinged for drawing like Jack Kirby, or Neal Adams, or John Buscema, David Finch, Jim Lee or anybody else— not directly copying art, which might lead to a copyright infringement claim, but drawing in the style of a particular artist (or if you prefer, a particular school of art, like, say, the Bolognese or Kubert school) isn’t a trademark infringement. When we speak of an artist’s “trademark style” we’re not actually speaking of a legal trademark, and as such it’s not something that can be legally claimed.
And this means that if, say, Ty Templeton draws a portrait of me looking like I was drawn by Dr. Seuss, there’s not a thing Dr. Seuss Enterprises can do about it.
Of course, this is generally a good thing. This means that no artist can be charged with stealing someone else’s “trademark style” or the way they draw (or for that matter, how they shoot a photograph or a movie). We all learn from each other, we all influence each other— particularly in comics— and we all build on other works and artistic traditions and styles to create new works of art to tell stories.
“Shuffle Off To Buffalo” is a song that premiered in the 1933 movie 42nd Street, later to become a Broadway musical. Much, much later. The song was written by the legendary team of Al Dubin and Harry Warren, and the movie in which it was preformed was, very arguably, the most erotic movie Warner Bros. made while the Warner Bros. were still running the joint.
It is in that spirit that I announce that this is my last column for ComicMix. I’ve been here almost 12 years, and I have done nothing else (professionally) for such a long stretch. They say people with short attention spans are the most creative.
No, wait. “They” don’t say that. I do.
There are lots of reasons for my departure, the most significant of which is, quite frankly, I’ve been looking to leave for several years. Again, my short attention span: my professional mind wanders the same way my id does. When ComicMix chose to go in a different and largely unarticulated direction, I seized the opportunity to change my business url.
I shall be getting back to writing, and I will be expanding my podcast and publishing work. That’s what I do during those brief periods when I’m not being sarcastic. Maybe I’ll write that exposé about the comics industry; who knows?
(Damn. I think I just caused a bunch of people to enjoy some serious insomnia.)
Adriane Nash, late of the ComicMix staff, is organizing a new website called Pop Culture Squad www.popculturesquad.com, when it goes up in a couple months) and she asked me to write and consult. That’s really cool: PCS’s scope goes well beyond our beloved world of comic book culture, and I’d like to swim in those waters for a while. Amusingly, a number of other people whose work occupies this space feel the same way. We’re not going to be getting the band together, Adriane is forming a new band. Think of it as Cream, with me playing the part of Ginger Baker. I’m very excited, which is a wonderful thing to behold but gross and icky to consider.
I will continue to do Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind, my weekly kickass on-demand rock ‘n’ blues Internet radio program on www.getthepointradio.com. I hit the ten-year mark next spring, which seems weird. People who judiciously wish to contact me can do so at email@example.com. Tell me Groucho sent you, and then go find your DeSoto keys.
Usually, in times like this the writer talks about how much he is grateful to work with such fine people. Well, yeah: running the columns here allowed me to exercise some muscles I hadn’t been using much for decades, and I have been privileged to work with many, many fine writers. The fact that most of them are also close friends made the whole enchilada all the more digestible. There are many others I wish to thank, and most of them know who they are. Of course, a few people think I’d wish to thank them, but are mistaken. I’m not going to cockblock my favorite hobby: provoking paranoia.
But I would like to single out one person: Brian Alvey, who cofounded this joint and moved on to reconquer the Internet still again. I learned a lot from Brian, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with him.
Saying next year will be a better year for all is to invite a deathmatch between the forces of karma and the gravity of cynicism. Have a happy holiday season, unless your name is Donald J. Trump. If it is, fry in hell, motherfucker. For the rest of us, all noble in comparison, I shall part with a stanza from Dubin and Warren:
The past few weeks I’ve been talking a lot about other people’s Kickstarter campaigns. This week, here at ComicMix, I’m here to talk about our Kickstarter campaign that is active right now. That’s right; ComicMix LLC is working on a new project – a major comics collection to benefit Planned Parenthood.
I’m going to get into that in a minute.
This project has been in the works for nearly two years now. It started back in December of 2015. Fellow ComicMix columnist and my co-editor Molly Jackson and I were at Mia Pizza in Astoria NY. I was a mere two months into my tenure as a columnist here and we were discussing something we could do. We immediately thought of doing a comics anthology. We had a lot of ideas we were throwing around, including a throwback Crime Does Not Pay style anthology.
Eventually, Molly and I went on to bug our EIC Mike Gold about it. We thought of different things we could do, and different strategies we could take. I had a connection to Planned Parenthood and after discussing it with the ComicMix team we moved forward on that. After many, many months of moving up the chain, discussions, conference calls, and an election that shook us all deeply and put the idea on the back burner, we have finally come to a point where we can move forward with Mine!, A Comics Collection To Benefit Planned Parenthood. It was a lot of work from everyone to put this together, and I’m so excited I get to be a part of th15is.
Both Molly and I are editing this collection. We’ve been working with a wide variety of people in comics and beyond in lining up contributors for this. We’ve been provided incredible stories and gorgeous artwork for this book that has been inspiring to the whole ComicMix team. It swells our hearts to see so many people in comics coming together for such an important cause. It’s this coming together and working together that gives us all hope that things can and will get better.
Below is the press release. As I stated earlier, the Kickstarter is live. Please share this around and please consider pledging so ComicMix can put out a high-quality comics collection with incredible talent for one of the worthiest causes that I think of.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD AND COMICMIX L.L.C. TEAM-UP FOR MINE!,
A COMICS ANTHOLOGY FUNDRAISER
ComicMix Editor-in-Chief Mike Gold today announced the forthcoming publication of a graphic novel of original short stories to celebrate the important work of Planned Parenthood. The volume, to be edited by Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson, will be published this fall in celebration of over 100 years of Planned Parenthood.
Mine! will feature the work of Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Sandman), Gail Simone (Wonder Woman), Yona Harvey (Black Panther), Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance, Umbrella Academy), Gabby Rivera (America), Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Witches of Echo Park), Mara Wilson (Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame), Mags Visaggio (Kim & Kim), Brittney Williams (Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat!), John Ostrander (Suicide Squad), and Jill Thompson (Wonder Woman), among many other top comics creators.
Project Co-Editor Molly Jackson said, “Planned Parenthood is a vital resource for women and men from all walks of life, providing needed health care and support to millions of people all over the world. We are proud to do whatever we can to bring attention to their amazing work.”
Co-Editor Joe Corallo said, “The comics community is built on freelance labor that relies on the kind of access to healthcare that Planned Parenthood provides. We’re thrilled to see such a diverse group of people in the comics community coming together to support this essential cause.”
A Kickstarter campaign to help finance printing and distribution costs launches August 15th at 8:00 am EST. Mine! will be available in bookstores, comic book shops, and electronically all over the world.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
ComicMix, LLC publishes a line of graphic novels by some of the best new and established talent in the industry. ComicMix Pro Services works with creators to produce, publish and market their work in a highly competitive marketplace. In addition, ComicMix runs one of the Internet’s most popular comics-oriented pop culture opinion and news sites.
Press inquiries and interview requests can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
On Friday, June 9, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California partially granted ComicMix LLC’s motion to dismiss the Dr. Seuss estate’s copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit over the book Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! To prevent publication, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, LP filed the lawsuit in 2016 against the book’s publisher ComicMix, its author David Gerrold, illustrator Ty Templeton, and Glenn Hauman, ComicMix’s co-founder and vice-president.
United States District Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed the trademark claims under the doctrine of nominative fair use, and largely agreed with ComicMix’s position that fair use protects the book from copyright infringement claims. Judge Sammartino found that the book is “a highly transformative work that takes no more than necessary [from Dr. Seuss’s books] to accomplish its transformative purpose and will not impinge on the original market for Plaintiff’s underlying work.” She emphasized that the case has broader significance: “This case presents an important question regarding the emerging ‘mash-up’ culture where artists combine two independent works in a new and unique way. … Applying the fair use factors in the manner Plaintiff outlines would almost always preclude a finding of fair use under these circumstances. However, if fair use was not viable in a case such as this, an entire body of highly creative work would be effectively foreclosed.”
As an example, Judge Sammartino refers to this image:
Plaintiff’s work depicts two similar-looking, fanciful “Zax” creatures arguing in the middle of a desert, with footprints to mark their arrival. Boldly takes the same desert landscape and footprints, and in the fanciful creatures’ place puts two similar-looking beings of seemingly Vulcan descent—one of which is drawn in the same position as his Dr. Seuss counterpart and one of which is transformed from the Dr. Seuss creatures’ aggressive stance into a contemplative pose—deep in the midst of playing some type of alien board game. Additionally, Boldly’s text reveals that the two Vulcan creatures are, in fact, the same person, unlike Go!’s distinct “North-Going” and “South-Going” Zaxes. Boldly therefore transforms the argumentative Zaxes and their corresponding depiction into a cloned Vulcan matching wits with himself over an alien boardgame. One Vulcan is positioned almost identically to his Zax counterpart to “conjure up” the Dr. Seuss work, while the other Vulcan is drawn anew and a board-game added in order to fully accomplish the work’s overall transformative purpose.
The copyright claim survives, awaiting proof of any harm to the Dr. Seuss estate’s licensing opportunities, and the estate was given two weeks to amend its trademark claims.
Dan Booth of Booth Sweet LLP, ComicMix LLC’s lead counsel, said, “I have never seen a case so focused on mash-up culture — and so strongly supportive. Judge Sammartino’s decision implicates not just literary hybrids but music remixes, appropriation art, supercut videos, and more, strongly suggesting that they should be protected from copyright claims.”
Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go began as a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, written by Gerrold, a Hugo and Nebula Award winning science fiction author perhaps best known for writing the Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Ty Templeton is a veteran Eisner Award winning comics artist known for his work on Batman, The Simpsons, and as the co-creator of the Vortex Comics series Stig’s Inferno.
ComicMix publishes a line of graphic novels by some of the best new and established talent in the industry. ComicMix Pro Services works with creators to produce, publish and market their work in a competitive marketplace. In addition, ComicMix runs one of the Internet’s most popular pop culture news sites.
The thrill is gone / The thrill is gone away / The thrill is gone baby / The thrill is gone away – Roy Hawkins and Rick R. Darnell
I was going to write about something else today. Actually, I had several topics to choose from. Then I had a conversation with Glenn Hauman, the invisible hand of ComicMix, and then this screed shot out of my fingers.
As this new medium flourished, I was excited about the opportunity for anybody to communicate in virtually all ways (print, audio, video; instantly, eventually, historically) and to do so directly without outside interference. As I’ve said before, I am a first amendment absolutist: people should be able to express themselves the way they want, in the form they want, using the language they feel most appropriate. The Internet, I felt, allowed all of us to communicate without these ridiculous and unwarranted barriers.
Sure, there’s a price to pay. There’s a lot of bullshit out there, options and outright lies presented as fact. And the rush to judgment that we see on cable’s 24 hour “news” channels (which, oddly, don’t offer very much in the way of news) is exceptionally prevalent. I literally come from the “If your mother says she loves you, check it out” school of journalism. But those are growing pains, and the outrageous lies and distortions generally are limited to sites where they wear their prejudices on their sleeves. I don’t except a eulogy about the three teenagers Hamas slaughtered in Israel to appear on an American Nazi Party website. Or vice versa.
I don’t want or need big business or the government – any government – to tell me what I cannot say… to the extent that there’s a difference between the two. But it didn’t take very long before big business did exactly that by banishing that which they find objectionable from their services.
Ironically, for me this started with Apple. They do not distribute magazines or books that they find violates their standards. Do they have the basic right to do this? Of course. It’s their tubes and wires. But they enforce these standards in a hypocritical manner. There is a ton of music, television and movies for sale on iTunes that Apple would not sell in electronic print form on iBooks, had that content been presented in that medium. And if the object in question is from a big name author or has an enormous amount of buzz about it, well, often it manages to be listed on their service anyway.
Does this differ from, say, Wal*Mart? No… except that Wal*Mart (et al) is consistent. If it doesn’t meet Wal*Mart’s standards, popularity or mass-salability doesn’t enter into it. Playboy could have an interview with Jesus Christ and Wal*Mart wouldn’t stock it.
And then we have Google.
Google may very well be the Doctor Doom of the Internet. They have so much information on each and every one of us that the National Security Agency actually tapped (taps? who’s to know?) Google’s files in their spying-on-the-citizenry jag. That’s bad and ugly and evil, but for the purpose of this particular column it illustrates their corporate culture.
If Google divines what you’re posting is objectionable, they de-list you. In fact, this almost happened to ComicMix. If you’re de-listed by Google, you are screwed. You are left alone in outer space, where nobody can hear you scream.
There’s a good graphic novel in that. But I doubt Apple and Google and their fellow travelers would allow you to use their tubes and wires to sell it.
“Meet your new boss,” Pete Townshend famously wrote. “Same as your old boss.”
Hey cats and kittens! I’m ba-aaaaack! Apparently from the world of retro greetings. And from the world of convention organizing. For anyone who’s wondering what I’ve been up to during my l’il six-month hiatus from ComicMix (did you miss me? I missed yooooooou!!!), one of the fun things I did was act as the Program Coordinator for Awesome Con here in D.C. And man, was Awesome Con an awesome time! We had a ton of stuff to see and do for our over 30,000 attendees, and have heard tons of great feedback from attendees, guests, participants, exhibitors, etc. I expect next year to be even bigger and better than this year (which had over four times as many attendees as Awesome Con D.C.’s first year in 2013), so if you’re in the area or like to travel for cons, I’d recommend adding next year’s Awesome Con, May 29-31, to the calendar now! You won’t regret it!
And speaking of things that have been on my calendar lately, this past Wednesday I went to The National Press Club to hear screenwriter, director, and producer M. Night Shyamalan talk about his book on closing America’s education gap, I Got Schooled. A surprising topic for a movie-maker to be writing about, perhaps – but after listening to him discuss the topic, it’s clear that this book was a passion project for him, and it was fascinating to hear him talk. In his own words, “celebrity activists make my stomach cringe – you don’t automatically get the right to give advice about something because you are successful at something else. But you do have the spotlight on you sometimes. In my case, [this is] something I’m really sensitive about, so I’ve always said, graciously, ‘no,’ to being asked to promote this or that, charity-wise. So this situation [of being a charity advocate] is very unusual for me; and in fact came about really organically.”
Shyamalan then described an experience he had visiting two nearby schools in his home city of Philadelphia while scouting locations for The Happening. One he described as “this incredibly vibrant school,” in which “these kids came rushing over, saying ‘Oh my God, are you making a movie here? Can I be in it? Can I die in your movie?’ …and the possibility of a movie being made there was right on the tip of their tongues, and they were ready.” The other “was just the worst thing you could imagine. You know, [with] metal detectors, the lights really dim, and the kids just not in a good place. In showing me the classrooms, the janitor had to unlock the classroom doors. There were bars on every classroom; literal bars. The theater had been burnt down because someone had set fire to it. It was like animals; it was damage control. And in this other school, a kid walked up to me, looked at me, kind of recognized me, and decided, ‘That’s not possible’ and kept walking.” Shyamalan felt this experience was very symbolic of the differences in how these children were being educated. This inspired him to seek knowledge on what system would produce more effective inner-city education for low income kids.
For two years after that, Shyamalan said, he gathered information on “what works in education,” and eventually ended up with thousands of studies on the table, which turned out to be “a big blurry pile of information, half-knowledge, insinuations, and anecdotal movements. … You could cherry-pick anything you wanted,” he stated, “and whatever your confirmation bias was, you could find confirmation for that.” At that point, Shyamalan wasn’t sure what move to make next; but then a doctor friend noted that there is a system of best practices in health care in which if patients do five things – sleep eight hours a day, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, pay attention to mental health, and don’t smoke – the chances of getting all diseases drop to an incredibly low level. If a patient doesn’t do one of these things, however, those chances buoy back to the norm. Shyamalan hypothesized that this might be analogous to best practices for education, and set out to see if the data supported this. “Is there a group of things,” he asked, “that when done together, always work to close the education gap – the gap that exists in every state between inner city, low income children and their white suburban counterparts?”
It turned out that according to his studies, there is. After two more years of analyzing the data, the pile of “blurry information” the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation had gathered became organized into five consistent groups. The Foundation then checked its hypothesis by going to every school that was closing the education gap, and “lo and behold, they were all doing these five things.” The five keys to closing the gap, Shyamalan says, are used by all the schools that achieve, and are: leadership by principals and staff and a consistent empowering message; teacher training that specifically focuses on how to approach inner-city schools and students; data on best practices in curriculum and how to teach that are then implemented; more time spent teaching the children; and smaller schools.
Shyamalan discussed each of these key points further, and stated the conclusion he finally reached in answer to his initial inquiry into solutions for closing the education gap. Shyamalan said, “If the home environment does not change, can we close the achievement gap? The answer to that is categorically yes.”
An encouraging message, considering that according to Shyamalan, inner city low income schools represent 18% of the country’s schools; and one that I hope is true. I’m a big believer in the importance of education, and it’s clear that this country needs to do some serious work to raise the standards of education for that 18%. Whether Shyamalan’s five keys turn out to be the answer, and whether they will be implemented to good effect, is still on the table; but Shyamalan has stated that the book has helped to spur active efforts towards improvement in Philadelphia and elsewhere; so here’s hoping that out of that original blurry pile of data have come some focused answers, and real methods that can be used to improve kids’ lives.
It’s rare for me to watch a movie and not have at least one complaint about it before the credits roll. I’d chalk that up not to me being overly critical of films, but to how incredibly difficult it is for a movie to hold water all the way through yet not also disappoint in some way. Edge of Tomorrow turned out to be one of the rare cases where I was wholly satisfied, but the second the credits began, two guys sitting in my row started loudly discussing why they weren’t. They were disappointed that the movie [spoiler alert] doesn’t have a twist at the end. And while I guess I can’t blame them for expecting it to have a twist given how pervasive twists have been in entertainment over the past few years, I couldn’t fathom why they’d be disappointed the story didn’t have one.
The very nature of a plot twist means it reframes the context of the story it’s in, but if someone’s taken the time to really flesh out a world, develop characters, and craft an intriguing plot, it’s unlikely changing their context at the eleventh hour will strengthen any of those things. While there are many reasons why I could endlessly sing the praises of Breaking Bad, perhaps the biggest one is the fact that every single thing that happened in the show was inevitable because of who the characters were and the roads their actions consequently took them down. The narrative as a whole was a string of dominoes whose end wasn’t necessarily visible at the beginning, but with each piece that toppled it became clear what the next few would be. I love that kind of storytelling, because it lets a plot be delightfully potboiling while avoiding seeming predictable, but it does so without the writers having to resort to throwing a random wrench into the gears just to shake things up.
And perhaps that’s exactly why I tend to dislike a twist at the end of a plot, because (with the odd exception) it’s little more than a cheap, empty thrill employed for the sheer sake of a shock. But by changing the context of a key element of the story just to surprise the audience, a plot twist often also undercuts that element at the same time. There’s always a part of me that feels cheated when I learn a character isn’t who they were purported to be, or worse yet, when I can see who they really are from the outset and have to wait for the story to catch up to the reveal. But with the increasing pervasiveness of twist endings, viewers seem to frequently be doing the latter, leaving writers unsuccessful in their attempts at pulling the rug out from under the audience as a plot approaches its conclusion. And if audiences are so often ahead of the process that these attempts fail, why do writers keep persisting with them?
Maybe because there are so few truly original movies these days. From Marvel Studios to my childhood toys to reboots of sci-fi classics, it’s hard to ignore the fact that we’re living in a golden age for movie franchises. To sell audiences on the idea that there’s something new enough at the heart of properties that have been around in some fashion for years or even decades, employing a twist in concert with basic modernization seems to be the order of the day. And while I do enjoy a number of the not-so-new franchises that have become popular in the last few years, I’d be hard-pressed to ever pick watching an installment of one of them over watching something original that stands on its own. Really, it’s an awful lot like the plot of Edge of Tomorrow. Movies are looking to repeat the same formula over and over while implementing one small change in the hope that it’s enough to yield success, but total deviation from the plan everyone thinks should work is much more likely to win the day in my book.
And despite how much I dislike them, this column unfortunately has a twist ending of its own: it’s my last. Other commitments have made an increased demand on my time and sadly left me unable to continue with a weekly column, but I’ve loved my time at ComicMix and will certainly miss you, dear readers!
Beardo is the back to back winner of the prestigious Shel Dorf Award for Syndicated Print Strip of the Year (2012 and 2013), and Beardo is the alter-ego of award-winning writer, artist, and musician Dan Dougherty. ComicMix is bringing the first three volumes of Beardo back into print and adding the fourth book in the series out in time for Christmas. We’re using Indiegogo to take pre-orders, in addition to special items only through this campaign, and the campaign ends Friday.
We talked with Dan about the comic, the crowdfunding campaign, and the people lurking with razors if certain goals are met.
For those who don’t know Beardo, how would you describe it?
It’s about a plucky cartoonist with a sweet beard and a knack for finding the punch line in his own life.
What’s the best thing about doing your own strip?
Making humorous observations about my little world that can also be relatable for public consumption on a daily basis.
And the worst?
Making humorous observations about my little world that can also be relatable for public consumption on a daily basis.
What kind of perks do you get when you do a daily strip like this? Do other baristas give you free coffee?
Yes, but only because I saved Howard Schultz from a burning building once. At least that’s what I tell them.
Have you ever been recognized by a fan from your likeness to the character?
Only when I’m at comic conventions and standing right next to the books. However, I did have a lady at a school ask me if I knew the Dan Dougherty who does the comic in the paper. I said I knew him, and he’s a real jerk.
What is the strangest fan encounter you’ve ever had?
I’d say check out the comments section on my gocomics page, I get some interesting people who seem to thrive on using the comic as a flimsy segue into whatever wacky non sequitur is rattling around in their mind. Oftentimes it’s more interesting content then the comic that created it.
As we talk, you’ve raised nearly seven times the amount of money you originally asked for, but not enough to meet a stretch goal, which would require you to shave your beard. Is this good? Are you relieved? Would you rather have your beard or the money?
The goal we original set was low just so we could ensure we’d make it. In hindsight, I wish we would’ve set it higher to give people something to rally around, because releasing four books in a year is a lofty goal that requires some serious coin. That being said, I’m just happy I have such supportive fans in my corner who would’ve backed Beardo no matter what we were doing, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the beards in the world.
Two weeks ago was my birthday. What can you give the Master Of The Universe?
Well, Salma Hayek, but lacking that?
Because I have everything I desire. On my birthday I gave ComicMix readers and others was an exclusive-to-ComicMix look at my conversation with Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Mike Peterson, a.k.a. Deathlok.
If by chance you missed part one because you were celebrating my birthday, like the national holiday it should be (and is, in many a lovely ladies’…err…heart) here’s the link to it. Please read part one before this marvelous (get it?) narrative becomes as maddening as a racist realizing Johnny Storm/The Human Torch is a fictional character, but Barack Obama is indeed real.
Or don’t read it. The following non-sequitur is all yours then…
Then my phone, which was sitting on the table, rang. The caller ID said “Denys Cowan.” “That’s Denys Cowan? TheDenys Cowan, Denys Cowan?” he said, clearly forgetting the east coast rule to not to be up in someone else’s business. The last two people to forget that rule were Tupac and Biggie, and stuff like that really vexes me. But I let it go. Then he said something I could not let go.
“I’m planning on doing as many comic book conventions as I can. I’d love to meet Denys and get his take on Deathlok.” He said that just as I picked up the call. So not only is this guy eyeing my phone, he’s clearly looking for me to hook him up with Denys.
When did I become part of his “team”? He went there on me, so I went here: “Charlie Gunn was cool as shit, but he was no Deathlok. What makes you think you are?”
“I see myself as more Hardware than Deathlok.”
This guy was either brilliant or looking to throw down. He was either giving me a compliment or insulting me. I co-created Hardware, and depending on what he meant, it was one or the other. Either way he had given me a great quote.
Great for me, but for him? Not so much.
There was no way in hell, Disney, or Marvel would be happy about that little tidbit. In my mind’s eye I saw Mickey Mouse on the phone to the Punisher the moment that headline was splashed all over TMZ.
Yes, TMZ. They pay better. Regardless of what he meant, I had him.
Or I thought I did. I had nothing because he said nothing.
“I see myself as more Hardware than Deathlok” was actually said by Denys attempting to be funny. I had forgotten just that quickly that I had answered the phone, and the Bluetooth I wore did the rest.
Tonight is the season finale of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m going to watch it. I went back and watched the entire season so I could be fair with this piece. Despite what many at Bleeding Cool may think, I’m not a dick. I’ll wait until the season ends to finish what he and I started.
As you may have noticed, these series of articles are more conversations and story, not a traditional interview by any means. But I know there are some that want that Q & A format.
Fine, but I’m not going to do that. You will.
Whatever questions you have for J. August Richards, send them to ComicMix or to the comments section here, and Richards himself has agreed to answer them. Yes, that was agreed to before he and I met. I’d say get your questions in no later than Thursday May 15 if you want a chance to see them answered next week.