There’s a couple of instances of people making fanart, and then the fanart being co-opted by others, and there’s a lot of discussion — light, heat, some signal, lots of noise — about both.
- Case one: the now apparently-resolved case of Anita Sarkeesian and Tamara Gray’s rendering of Princess Daphne, discussed at length on the second episode of Surviving Creativity. The best thing about that episode of SC¹ is the acknowledgment that some actual legal expertise is required (something missing in most internet discussions of trademark, copyright, and fair use), and the promise that Katie Lane of Work Made For Hire will be joining them to add that expertise. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Katie Lane is smart, and that next episode will be mandatory listening for all independent creators.
Case two: before Gigi DG launched Cucumber Quest, she had a webcomic called Hiimdaisy, which combined fan art and parody of video games (as near as I can tell, I never read it and Ms DG took ’em down some years ago). There’s presently a Kickstarter campaign to continue the work with an explicit acknowledgment that it’s inspired by Ms DG, although it’s a new artist. Ms DG is aware, but is distancing herself from, the project².
My take on the whole thing is if you wanna do fanart, then do fanart, nobody can prevent you from drawing whatever you want. But it seems a bit classless to make your fanart an extension of somebody else’s visual style (and to trade on their name), and it seems to skirt all the legalities to raise money in order to make your fan-thing.
Sure, sure, you say it’s non-profit (not that those are two magic Get Out Of Copyright Jail words), but you say that the bulk of the funds your raising are for the purchase of a Cintiq and somebody’s keeping that toy when this is all said and done. Better apply any and all overages in the funding to a legal fund, ’cause that right there is the sort of thing that gets people sued. Each day that goes by increases the odds that the project gets canceled, either by a come-to-his-senses Renard, or (more likely) by Kickstarter.
- Weird that two different second-order It’s somebody else’s intellectual property incidents would pop up in so short a time frame; despite my opinioneering in the last item (it need not be said that I am not a lawyer, but that opinion would inform my thought process if I were a member of a jury, which is possibly just as important) my real thought on the matter is this: it’s better to have your own ideas.
Case in point: Karl Kerschl, who could spend all day drawing Other People’s Stuff if he wanted to, but who clearly allows the OPS to take up hours that aren’t taken up with his own work. The Abominable Charles Christopher is some of the best work of anybody’s career, and nobody can tell Kerschl what he can or cannot do with it.
And what he’s doing with it today is announcing preorders for the softcover edition of Book 2 of Charles Christopher. Let me be blunt: the only reason for this to not be on your shelf is if you already own the hardcover. You’ve got perfectly good blood plasma you aren’t using, sell some of that and put in your order.
- And in further praise of coming up with Your Own Stuff, the aforementioned Steve Hamaker shared something on the twitter machine today:
My wife, Jenny Robb interviewed Bill Watterson for the upcoming Calvin & Hobbes exhibition at the @CartoonLibrary. http://library.osu.edu/blogs/cartoons/2014/03/20/new-interview-calvin-hobbes-creator-bill-watterson-and-cul-de-sac-creator-richard-thompson-talk-libraries-comics-and-the-creative-process-with-ohio-state/ …
Jenny Robb is the curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State, and as such has probably been around more magnificent comics art than anybody else currently drawing breath. She’s frighteningly smart, and she’s scored the Watterson half of what’s actually a double interview, the other half being done with Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, conducted by exhibit curator Caitlin McGurk. Read them both here, and if you’re anywhere near Columbus, Ohio and don’t go see the retrospective while it’s running, we’re through. On the off chance that you’re not anywhere near Columbus, Ohio, kindly remember that you have two kidneys for a reason.
¹ The disappointing part of the podcast was that colorist supreme Steve Hamaker was part of the discussion and was sorely underutilized. If you’re going to have him on, let’s hear about his creative process! Guests can add a hell of a lot to a discussion when the topic is something they’re involved in, otherwise it’s just kind of unfair to them.
² Although project creator Jack Renard takes a different tack on this, presenting the project has having DG’s tacit approval.