The webcomics blog about webcomics

Name, Shame

This is pissing me off even more that the Todd Goldman incident of 2007; at least Goldman never sued Shmorky for daring to point out he was stealing designs.

So last night, Internet Jesus tweeted about a particularly egregious assualt on an artist’s work. John T Unger doesn’t work in webcomics, or even comics in general; he makes outdoor fire-containment kettles (think “fireplace you can plop anywhere in your back yard”). He’s known for the distinctive look and feel of his work, and has registered copyright on his designs.

An imitator¹ (no link, he gets no publicity from me) has been selling knock-offs; Unger contacted him and provided proof of copyright, and asked said imitator to please work only with original designs. Imitator responded by filing a lawsuit seeking to overturn Unger’s copyrights so that he doesn’t have to stop. And now the punchline: because the imitator sued first, Unger must defend the suit or it’s automatically decided in favor of the plaintiff. It’s a naked attempt to force Unger to deplete his resources (he’s spent more than $50,000 so far) in an attempt to say, Hey, you’re not allowed to steal my stuff and have a court validate you.

As creators of Intellectual Property (those of you that are) and/or fans of those that create said IP, you should be appalled. Copyright and trademark require “vigorous defense” to show that you haven’t let them lapse, but I cannot believe that the intent of such a requirement was to permit naked thievery. If you’re ready to act on that anger, Unger’s using Kickstarter to fund his legal expenses; rather than just ask for donations, he’s created a new line of tabletop sculpture available for certain pledge amounts (and other rewards at lower levels). This situation is pissing me off, and I’m asking you that if you can’t kick in any money, at least read Unger’s account and talk about this. The glare of publicity is probably the best weapon available in this fight.

  • Whoa, two updates from E. B-White? No, not Websnark updates (c’mon, guy’s been sick), but updates to the long-dormant (like three years dormant) photobased webcomic The Adventures of Bridadier General John Stark. Exciting! Bold prediction: General Stark discovers Mayan calendar prophecies (after all, there is a precedent for such in webcomics) just in time for either a third update, or for time to end in 2012, whichever comes first. C’mon, Eric — prove me wrong!
  • Looks like WOWIO payments for Q2 2008 are still going out; just got an email from a creator that he was just paid. It would be caddish of me to point out that we’re now in Q4 of 2009, but hey — at least people are getting their money.
  • If you’ve noticed a dread, palpable chill in the air, if the very atmosphere over New York City seems somehow befouled and borderline evil, there’s a reason. All that is unholy celebrates the unbirth of the darkest creature yet to tear its way into our reality, one that spews forth the very nightmares that will rend the world piece from piece, leaving all who encounter it gibbering pools of tears and sorrow. Also, there is probably cake.

    Happy Birthday, Andy.

¹ Feel free to substitute alternate descriptors for this individual; suggestions include “–––––––”, “––––––– –––––––”, “–––––––” and “How Do You Live With Yourself?” Redactions because Unger has specifically asked that derogatory language not be used.

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