Saturday, March 5, 2011

Comics Book Comics Release Party

This Wednesday, I attended the Midtown Comics Release Party for Comic Book Comics #5 by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey. This series studies the history of the comic industry, with this issue dedicated to the comic lawsuits. Also on the panel was Jeff Trexler, the pro bono lawyer and writer for Newsrama, who consulted on the issue. The panel was expertly moderated by Midtown Comics' own Thor Parker, who introduced himself this time. ;)

The lecture started off with the guys telling us two of the stories from the book. This was the same slide show given at the NYU law school. The two stories they read were The Grabbers and Mouse Pirates. The Grabbers is about the copyright fights between creators and publishers, with a focus on the Copyright Act of 1976. The Mouse Pirates is about a publisher that parodied Disney characters into porn. Both Van Lente and Dunlavey (Dunlavey even had a cold!) impressed me with how well they did voices for all of their characters. Guys, if comics doesn't work out, go into voice acting.

After storytime, we learned about how this issue came to be. It took a long time to research for stories. After Van Lente wrote it, they had Trexler check everything. He did say that Van Lente did a great job on research.

One fan asked how this series has been received by Marvel, since they both have worked for Marvel. According to Dunlavey, Marvel is a big fan of this series and even tried to do one with him but it didn't pan out. Van Lente did stress that the stories in this issue reflect very different regimes in these stories. Trexler added that comics like this and internet forums have made companies rethink how they handle pursuing cases. They are now much more open and transparent.

The best tidbit that came out of this whole discussion is this from Van Lente. When discussing the impact that this history had on the industry compared to other industries, he said that the history of comics is held up by certain franchises, which makes it hard for creators to parody or satire. The companies may never be able to pay back creators.

I even asked a question! I asked about the stories they found that didn't make it in to the book. There were two stories they mentioned. One was about the Trademark and Copyright characters on the front of the book. They had a story about the differences between trademarks and copyrights, but Van Lente said it just didn't fit with the flow. The other story was a comic version of the Creators Bill of Rights as an airline pamphlet. When Dunlavey began to sketch it out, it was just too big of an undertaking for it to fit. I would still like to see that if you get a chance though!

Finally, we got a little insight into the next issue, which is sadly the last one. In it is the Future of the Comics Industry including Japanese comics, graphic novels, digital comics and piracy.

If you are interested in the law or comic history or just plain fun, go pick up this issue. I personally find the law incredible boring but this kept my attention. They made the subject matter fun and easy to understand. The story they didn't read, 1986 AD is a fascinating read about how American Comics impacted in Britain with Captain Marvel at the center of it all! Go pick it up today!!!

Like what you just read? Let us know in the comments below and keep up to date by following us on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr!