The Law for Comic Book Creators

Essential Concepts and Applications

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About the Book

Since the creation of the comic book, cases of legal conflict and confusion have often arisen where concepts such as public domain, unincorporated entities and moral rights are involved. As a result, comics creators are frequently concerned about whether they are protecting themselves.
There are many questions and no single place to find the answers—that is, until now.
Entertaining as it instructs, this book seeks to provide those answers, examining the legal history of comics and presenting information in a way that is understandable to everyone. While not seeking to provide legal advice, this book presents the legal background in plain English, and looks at the stories behind the cases. Every lawsuit has a story and every case has lessons to be learned. As these lessons are explored, the reader will learn the importance of contracts, the basics of copyright and trademark, the precautions necessary when working with public domain characters and the effects of censorship.

About the Author(s)

Joe Sergi is an attorney and an award winning author in the horror, sci-fi and young adult genres. He regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. He works as a senior litigation counsel for a United States government agency, is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law and teaches comic book law for Comics Experience.

Bibliographic Details

Joe Sergi
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7360-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1733-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vi

Preface 1

Introduction 3

1. Litigation in Brief 5

2. Intellectual Property and State Law in Brief 8

3. Copyright: An Overview 14

4. Don’t Tug on Superman’s Cape: DC Comics v. Bruns and Fawcett 39

5. When Captain America Throws His Mighty Shield: Marvel Comics v. Simon 54

6. Atomic Batteries to Power and Turbines to Speed: DC Comics v. Mark Towle Replicas 66

7. When Titans Tangle: Neil Gaiman v. Todd McFarlane 73

8. Trademark: An Overview 96

9. What’s in a Name? Stan Lee v. Stan Lee Media v. Marvel Comics 112

10. A Lack of Curiosity Killed the Pussycats: Dan DeCarlo v. Archie Comics Publications 126

11. Whose Witch Is What? Archie Comics v. Dan DeCarlo 137

12. Contracts in Brief 151

13. Riders in the Storm: Gary Friedrich v. Marvel Comics 154

14. The King Deposed: Marvel Comics v. Jack Kirby 164

15. The Never Ending Battle Begins: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster v. DC Comics 193

16. The Never Ending Battle Continues: Joanne Siegel v. DC Comics 205

17. The Never Ending Battle Ends? DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corporation 209

18. Public Domain in Brief 213

19. Business Structure in Brief 215

20. Censorship and the Comics Code in Brief 220

21. Pulled from the Underground: People of New York v. Kirkpatrick 225

22. And There Came a Day: Illinois v. Correa (The Friendly Frank’s Case) 233

Conclusion 236

Chapter Notes 237

References 250

Index 252

Book Reviews & Awards

“Highly recommended”—Fanboy Comics; “the book melds guidance with relevant legal stories to make a readable whole”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly; “a very informative analysis…anyone who is thinking about entering the comics field really should read this…before signing a contract of any kind”—ICV2.