Tagged: Wikipedia

EDITORIAL: Why ComicMix Is Against SOPA

In 2009, we ran an article about Astro Boy and the then-upcoming movie. We got some grief from the law firm representing the movie studio IMAGI, complete with cease and desist letters, over using earlier released concept art as an illustration for the article. We responded by posting the C&D letter, and telling Imagi that we would remove not only the image, but all articles about the Astro Boy movie, and would no longer provide coverage for any IMAGI properties, just to be safe. The President of IMAGI apologized for the “error” and backed off.

Luckily for us, SOPA was not a law.

If it was, the law firm could have simply decided to not even contact us at all, but instead simply shut us down. Completely. Without warning and without legal recourse.

This is a prime example of what SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (and the US Senate version of the same bill, PIPA) is intended to do by design: a law written by Hollywood interests that give them the right to shut down a website for “copyright infringement”. Ostensibly the law would protect against piracy, but as written, the law is overly broad and dangerous, putting the burden on website owners to police all material and allowing for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites without notification and without exemptions for fair use, and no safe harbor provisions. Small sites such as ComicMix won’t have sufficient resources to defend themselves, let alone survive a protracted shutdown.

We here at ComicMix believe that SOPA is designed to give corporations the ability to silence any web site they don’t like, with no oversight and no appeal. We are further disturbed that not only have DC and Marvel’s corporate parents, Time Warner and The Walt Disney Corporation, have come out strongly in favor of SOPA, but that Marvel has gone above and beyond in declaring their support for it.

One simply has to wonder how much Marvel would like SOPA if the heirs of Jack Kirby decided to shut down Marvel.com.

Numerous other sites such as Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, and WordPress have gone dark today to signal their opposition to SOPA and PIPA. We add our voices to the chorus, and ask that you contact your representatives and senators today to add yours.

For further information, read this brief from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

MIKE GOLD: Steve Niles’ Courageous Act

gold-column-art-120104-150x112-9029409If you you’re inclined to keep an eye out, heroes pop up like Kleenex. Steve Niles just made the cut.

At the 2010 Baltimore Comic-Con Harvey Awards dinner, Mark Waid offered a courageous keynote address which offered a simple message: digital comics are here to stay, there is an international bootlegging community and we as creators and industry doyens must learn to deal with it. For this, Mark was roundly booed, hassled and harassed by his peers. Astonishingly, one of his tormentors was the otherwise quite gentlemanly Sergio Aragonés.

I don’t recall if Steve Niles was at the dinner, but if not, it’s likely he heard about it. Suggesting that any acknowledgement of those who pirate comics is akin to taking a dump on the bible. This is true throughout the media: records (yeah, it’s okay to call them “records;” look it up), movies and teevee shows, even books. And you thought nobody was reading.

The media industry’s response to this has been to advocate passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act, a.k.a. SOPA. Simply put, SOPA allows any intellectual property (IP) owner to legally compel any Internet Service Provider (a.k.a. ISP; we’re shooting for the entire alphabet this week) to kick off any website suspected of copyright infringement.

Well, here’s a clue for you. Well over 99% of the websites on the Internet infringe copyrights and trademarks. Pick-ups of news items, graphics used to illustrate anything, sound bytes and even some You Tube links – they are all infringing upon somebody’s IP. You rip off the Superman logo font because you’re artistic and just being cute? Well, that logo is a registered trademark, and you are now Lex Luthor.

So Steve, bless his 30 Days of Night heart, took a stand. “SOPA does more than go after so-called ‘piracy’ websites,” said he. “SOPA takes away all due process, shuts down any site it deems to be against the law without trial, without notification, without due process… Nobody seems to give a shit, or either they’re scared. Either way, very disappointing. I guess when it affects them they’ll get mad… I know folks are scared to speak out because a lot of us work for these companies, but we have to fight. Too much is at stake.”

He tweeted all these comments; I got them from our pals at Digital Spy, except they asterisked “shit.” We here at ComicMix are beneath that.

Here’s some facts. Every time somebody unlawfully downloads IP – and note I said “unlawfully” because it is unlawful – the media racket sees that as a lost sale. This is overwhelming bullshit. People sample, people are curious, people’s friends make a recommendation and said people check ‘em out. There’s plenty of stuff that you’d check out before laying down your plastic sight unseen. The actual number of downloads that defraud the owner (which is usually not the creator) is a fraction of the total. These downloads are still illegal, but IP moguls should pull the stick out of their ass and tell the truth when they are babbling about how much bootlegging is costing them. They are liars.

There are a great many services that allow you to legally purchase IP, and the largest of these is Apple’s iTunes, which offers music, television, movies, books, magazines, newspapers, software (a.k.a. “apps”) and probably jpg’s of papyrus scrolls. As of around October 2011 – the date varies by category – iTunes has sold over 16 billion songs, about one half-billion movies, videos and teevee shows, some 20 billion apps, and Crom knows how many books, magazines and newspapers.

Here’s the rub: in each and every one of these approximately 40,000,000,000 cases, the purchaser could have downloaded the damn thing for free. In most cases, it is far easier to illegally cop a boot than it is to purchase one. Let’s start with the fact that you don’t need to have a credit card or room left on your credit limit to procure your illegal bootie.

So. 40 billion downloads from just one – the biggest one – online merchant in a world that only houses seven billion people. That’s an average of four and one-half perfectly legal downloads for each and every person, including babies in the Amazon who don’t even have access to Amazon.

Hey! People are inherently good. Go know!

Of course SOPA is being supported by all the big IP companies, including Disney (Marvel) and Time Warner (DC). If only they were so moral about how they treat their creative talent, without whom both companies would constitute another real estate bust.

On the other side: Facebook, Google, Twitter and Wikipedia, the latter of which threatens to disappear should SOPA pass. Then students will actually have to do research, and we can’t have that.

Also standing proudly on the other side: Steve Niles. Good for you, pal.

Good grief. Now Mark Evanier is going to hate me.

Thursday: Dennis O’Neil

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Kickstart My Heart

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Kickstart My Heart

Here it is kiddos. My next-to-last article of 2011. I figured I might as well abuse what little power I have here and spend my time shamelessly shilling for a shot at your shekels. You see, my li’l studio, Unshaven Comics, launched a Kickstarter project all for a single goal: we want to turn our drawings into reality. For those not in-the-know about the Kickstarter movement, allow me to Wikipedia it for you:

Kickstarter is a site built to let creative types reach out to the world like a PBS telethon. People pledge money, receive fun rewards for doing so, and if the goal amount is reached by the end of the deadline, the project is funded. Some people raise money to publish their books, music projects, or films… others use monies raised for research and development of prototype products. There’s just a ton of awesome projects out there. And when many people toss in small amounts of cash, these indie projects are given a shot to become reality. In the instance of Unshaven Comics… we’re raising money to fund the creation of a costume for one (or more) of our superheroes… “The Samurnauts.”

Since professional grade costumes require professional grade funds, we figured it was a worthy cause. As of this writing, we’re only $122 away from meeting our goal. If we go over, we could potentially afford more costumes. It’s quite exciting. If nothing else, we’ve produced (with our great partners at Marktime Media) a funny video in which our resident penciler and painter threatens to sleep in your bed and stab you. I swear that wasn’t even scripted. And it was funny enough to make Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith) back us. For what it’s worth, we’re just as shocked as you are. He’s a stand-up dude. But Marc, you protest, what does making a costume have to do with publishing independent comics? Why friend, I’m glad you asked.

At a convention, when you’re just an artist sitting at a wee six foot table amidst more popular and important creators, you’re forced to do just about anything to stand out. Our writer and latent sales machine, Kyle Gnepper, has developed a keen sense of urgency during these times. He reaches out to any within earshot. “Pardon me sir, can I tell you about my comic book!?” He shouts. When we’re lucky, the fine patrons of the con will come and listen to our pitch. Thus far, it’s paid off.

In 2011, we’re proud to say we’ve sold 820 books face to face. 820 times, people have said “I like the cut of your jib, and I want to monetarily show it.” And so, we look to 2012, to improve upon these numbers, and continue to gain a head of steam within the industry. With a live-action Samurai-Astronaut walking the convention floor? We might just get there.

You see, our model for the Blue Samurnaut, Erik, is an amazing dude. He and his lovely wife Cherise (who just-so-happens to be our Yellow Samurnaut) have taken to travel with us from con to con… walking the floor and praising our name. Cherise has no problem making fast friends. You see, comic fans appreciate a mini skirt and high heels. Erik’s attempt to wear either hasn’t resulted in positive promotion. And rather than watch him continue to stand behind Cherise as she waves, and flirts, and passes out fliers… we want to see him armored up, shaking hands, kissing babies, and fighting evil! With a presence on the floor, we gain more eyes on our product. Marvel and DC already have recognition. We are but a pebble in the ocean of comic books. But we’d love to be a samurai-astronaut shaped pebble in 2012. That, and if funded, Erik said he’d storm the DC booths and fight Dan DiDio to the death.

Of course I’m not asking for just a handout. As you’ll see with our Kickstarter, there are plenty of prizes to be had. And since I’m the sort who likes to make an offer you just can’t refuse, allow me now to Billy Mays up this deal:

If you support the Kickstarter (if you haven’t already), and mention you heard about it from my comic mix article…I’ll gladly throw in an additional poster print of any sketch completed on Unshaven Comics’ website. I’ll also throw in the knife set, an additional cutting board, and trial subscription to Wizard Magazine. Scratch that. Just the poster print, and maybe a big shout out on my podcast. Fair?

Like I said in the beginning, I hate to be so shameless this week, but well, Wednesday is my birthday. I turn 30. And I have a kid on the way. And I love you. Did I mention you should have read this article while listening to Sarah McLachlan’s In the Arms of An Angel?

In all seriousness, I hope you and yours have an amazing Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Don’t worry, I’ll be back on my hater-train next week… ready to spew anger and loathing on something comic related. In the mean time, check out the Kickstarter, and give till you can’t give no more.


CHRISTMAS DAY: John Ostrander

Johnny Depp’s “The Lone Ranger” Rides Again?

Johnny Depp’s “The Lone Ranger” Rides Again?

Dynamite Entertainment's The Lone Ranger #4 co...

Image via Wikipedia

It looks like The Lone Ranger will ride after all: TheWrap has confirmed that Disney is close to a deal to revive the Johnny Depp movie. In August, the company halted production on the big-budget project, which stars Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the masked man. Gore Verbinski is directing and Jerry Bruckheimer is producing. An individual close to the project told TheWrap on Tuesday that while a deal to get the project back in production is not yet finalized, it appears imminent.

via Disney close to reviving Johnny Depp’s “The Lone Ranger” – Yahoo! News.

Alberto Uderzo retires from drawing ‘Asterix’

Alberto Uderzo retires from drawing ‘Asterix’

Asterix and the Goths by Rene Goscinny depicte...

Image via Wikipedia

He is perhaps the last great legacy cartoonist still working on his original creation. But at age 84, Alberto Uderzo, co-creator of ASTERIX, one of the world’s most popular comics, is hanging up his drawing pen, citing fatigue.

Debuting in 1959, ASTERIX was the co-creation of Rene Goscinny, and with his fractured take on European history, via Asterix and Obelix, two bumbling Bronze age Gauls. The series has gone on to sell 350 million copies, according to publisher Hachette.

via 350 million copies later, Uderzo retires from drawing Asterix | The Beat.

DENNIS O’NEIL: Green Lantern’s Pink Stash

It’s about Sinestro’s moustache.

The Sinestro to whom I refer is the comic book villain who morphed into a character in a film that recently abandoned a multiplex near you titled Green Lantern, as opposed to all the other Sinestros in your life. He is humanoid except for a truly odd complexion and he has the kind of moustache that was sported by such luminaries of yesteryear as Clark Gable, William Powell and Thomas E. Dewey, who was a politician and thus not like all the other Thomas E. Deweys of your acquaintance.

I have no trouble with the complexion – after all, the dude was born on Korugar – but that moustache kind of niggles me. I am an evolutionary (he boasts, thrusting out his chest) and so have no problem believing in the theory of parallel evolution (which, according to Wikipedia, posits “the development of a similar trait in related but distinct species descending from the same ancestor” and that’s all the classroomy stuff I’ll inflict on you this week, I promise.) So what we have here is an ancient something-or-other that left… what? seeds? germs? – on both Korugar and Earth, and these eventually spawned sentient bipeds and what we jokingly refer to as civilizations, and so forth…As noted above: no problem.

But can we stretch our parallel evolutionary hypothesis so far as to accommodate the belief that on both Korugar and Earth there evolved alpha males with a penchant for decorative lip hair? If we can, the story might go something like this: Sinestro’s mom had a schoolgirl crush on the Korugarian version of Gable, Powell, or Dewey (or could this wannabe vixen have had a crush on all three? could she have been that profligate with her unrequited affection?) She gave birth to the infant Sinestro and, as the lad was growing up, continually impressed on him that real men – we’re talking macho studs who are suave, witty, sophisticated and ooze testosterone – these magenta-complexioned winners insist on having hirsute upper lips?

Oh, my… we could spin the speculation further and guess that the adolescent Sinny found that he could not raise decent facial hair and the frustration of having to disappoint Ma caused him to mull the possibility of becoming evil and by the time his hormones kicked in – on Korugar, puberty often comes late? – he had pretty much decided on a career in villainy? (Could the tale take a Faustian turn and narrate young Sin’s bargain with a Korugian devil who traded a handsome ‘stache for the lad’s immortal soul? Oh, my, my, my…)

We will resist further speculation and merely suggest, hat in hand, head bowed, that regardless of what may or may not have occurred on Korugar (and are you sure it doesn’t exist) the makers of Green Lantern might have decided against adding a moustache to the already cumbersome makeup they inflicted on actor Mark Strong and…

But wait! The fellow in the Simpsons t-shirt is telling me that according to one version of the Sinestro origin, the character was actually modeled on British actor David Niven. Well! I’m glad we cleared that up.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

Reviews from the 86th Floor: Barry Reese reviews Viktoriana

Modern Marvels – Viktoriana
Wayne Reinagel
ISBN 978-0981531243

As with the author’s previous books, this one is epic in scope and features multiple plotlines that all converge at the end. This time around numerous famous authors and figures are put into adventurous settings, as we learn (for instance) that the man who wrote Dracula actually had battles with the undead.

Let me start by saying that Wayne Reinagel is the most perplexing author in the New Pup movement. He writes the best action scenes in the biz but he also has several habits that drive me nuts. For instance, the opening chapter pits H Rider Haggard against a horde of vampires. It’s thrilling and was so good that I actually told my wife while reading it, “This guy’s the best pulp author alive today.” Then, less than twenty pages later, I told her, “Argh! He’s doing That Thing again!”

That Thing is delivering Wikipedia style info-dumps in the middle of the story. It’s extremely disconcerting and takes me right out of the story. It’s needed information but it’s so predictable that when you see a new character enter the scene, you know that it’s going to be followed by several paragraphs of biography. Wayne’s able to mix it up sometimes and have characters relay info to each other but far too often, it’s “Here’s Character B. Here’s Character B’s appearance. Here’s Character B’s life story. On with the adventure!”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Wayne’s characterization and action scenes are so good that I’m willing to overlook the info-dumps and I strongly encourage others to try his work if they haven’t already. The concepts here are fascinating and I love the way he ties characters together. There were scenes here that made me laugh, some that made me nearly tear up and even some that caused me to lean forward in anticipation. It’s that good — it’s just that there are things that, for me, keep this from being an absolute classic.

I really feel that Reinagel is one of the top five authors in the New Pulp movement. Depending on what chapter I’m reading at the time, I might even say he’s the very best.

This is well worth a look and continues a trend of each book by Reinagel being better than the previous one.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Batman #251 (Sept. 1973). Art by Neal Adams.

Image via Wikipedia

We’re off taking care of our own moms today, so I’m going to just link to Ty Templeton’s list of the Top 7 Bad Mothers in Comics. Although how he missed Rorschach’s mom, I’ll never know.

Of course, we all know the worst mom in comics is the one that threw your comics away– or even worse, claimed that you read them too much, and so tore up your copy of [[[Batman]]] #251, “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, in front of you to prove a point; an event that scarred and twisted you to this very day, and then she wonders why you want to put her into a home…

…perhaps I’ve said too much here.

Love you, mom!

Webcomics You Should Be Reading: ‘Cyanide and Happiness’

Webcomics You Should Be Reading: ‘Cyanide and Happiness’

Yup. I’m sick. Twisted. Perverse. Warped. Dare I even say (dare… dare….) a little insane in the membrane. Why you ask? Simply put… someone sent me a link to this crudely drawn little webcomic, and after a single strip, I knew I must share this with the six or seven of you who haven’t heard of it. What lay ahead in this article will make some of you angry. Others will throw their hands up in disgust and curse loudly at the screen. But there will be those who see this as a new beacon of hope. Yes my friends, I bring to you something so wrong it must be right. A webcomic that appears to challenge xkcd in artistic merit, and tickle the nethers of the Parking Lot is Full for content. Look quickly beneath this velvet drape and behold the evil hilariousnesstitude of… Cyanide and Happiness!

The strip starting humbly by a young Kris Wilson, who was then suffering from strep throat (seriously folks, if Wikipedia didn’t exist, I might not know anything.). Kris caught the eye of web hosts Matt Melvin, Rob DenBleyker and Dave McElfatrick. Soon thereafter, the strip was given a home on what is now Explosm.net. While Wilson was the originator of the comic, over time, Matt, Rob, and Dave joined the fray, helping to add strips since it’s inception in 2005. But seriously, enough with the “information”… I know those who didn’t heed my warning above want to know why I’m giggling like priest in an elementary school over this ugly ugly strip.

Cyanide and Happiness by definition is described as “dark, cynical, often offensive, and exceedingly irreverent. Frequent topics of humor include disabilities, rape, cancer, murder, suicide, necrophilia, pedophilia, sexual deviancy, sexually transmitted diseases, self-mutilation, nihilism, and violence. The comic does not always have a definite punchline in each strip, or may have several panels of “awkward silence” after (or instead of) the punchline, with characters simply staring at each other.” (again, kudos to those wikipedia writers… where do they get the time?!). If that description doesn’t make you foam at the mouth for examples, well, you’re probably more normal than I am.

As one cycles through Cyanide and Happiness, it’s obvious there’s a good sense of timing, and a deliberate storytelling ability, despite the art being all but non-existent. Yes, it’s essentially stick figure humor, much like the aforementioned xkcd, but for all of dumb people who find strips like these far funnier than these. And yes, I know I’ve already waxed poetic on xkcd, and now you loyal FOMAFers (again, if you DON’T know, well, look it up.) are getting your panties in a bunch. Did Marc just go back on his word? Is he saying Cyanide and Happiness is somehow superior to xkcd? Is he trying to start a flame war? Yes. I am. I want all of you to get riled up and start a crazy posting war. Tell your friends… get them involved. Tweet about it on your dingleberries, and update your mybooks with your facespace messages. I want to see vile comments lambasting my parents for even giving birth to me, which leads (eventually) to you having to read this article, and now you’re so angry you just have to…. AAAAHHHH!!!