The webcomics blog about webcomics


Did you see this today? Because I saw this today:

I love and miss Zodiac Starforce

I’m really proud of the work that Paulina and I put into this book

It’s too bad someone sued us for a million dollars saying we stole their idea and it cost us tens of thousands in legal fees and basically destroyed our will to make more

[three broken heart emoji]

Zodiac Starforce was a Dark Horse series launched in 2015 by writer Kevin Panetta and artist Paulina Ganuchau. I never read it, but it was on my internal Check it out if the opportunity arises list; I’m not of an age that grew up with magical girls and so it wasn’t top of my priorities. Then one day it went away without explanation, despite being (from what I could tell), reasonably successful and well thought-of.

And now we know — a litigant (who is easily Googleable) without a lawyer — which is usually a sign that the legal arguments will be lacking in coherence and understanding of what the law actually is — sued on the basis that apparently anything that features zodiac-themed warriors belongs to him? For reference, he later sued Toei, on the basis that the English title of their Saint Seiya anime series, Knights Of The Zodiac, infringed somehow.

For reference, I first saw Saint Seiya in a hotel conference room on a nth-generation VHS copy around 1989, and even then it was known as Knights Of The Zodiac in English. But no matter! Mr Lawsuit decided that based on a book that ranks around 7.8 million on Amazon from 2003, he owns the entire concept.

Looking up his name, I find a pattern of repeated lawsuits that don’t make factual claims and misapply the law (various Zodiac-themed media; an apartment complex; a medical group), get thrown out for being deficient after a couple of years, then he sues the United States government because … they should have been constituted for the past 230 years in a form that allowed him to win in court? Maybe? There’s even an introductory sentence that reads, and I quote:

Pro se Plaintiff [redacted] has brought yet another action related to his purported intellectual property rights with respect to something entitled “Zodiac Knights 2000” or “Knights of the Zodiac.” [emphasis original]


… from which I’ve removed the name because for all I know this loonball constantly vanity searches and would decide I’m somehow violating his claimed copyright, trademark, moral rights, or whatever and I don’t need the aggravation.

And the thing is, I’m not sure what would prevent this. The whole Indie Eleven bullshit saga might have been precluded with a federal SLAPP statute, but this nonsense that Ganuchau and Panetta found themselves on the receiving end of? Nothing but a finding from a court that the plaintiff is a vexatious and abusive litigant will work. Well, that and a finding that he’s gotta pony up a bond for potential costs before accepting suit filings, since by my readings (and IANAL) of the court docs seems to indicate that he pleads poverty and can’t pay defendants for the costs of fighting his bullshit.

In the meantime, Panetta and Ganuchau have other work they’ve pursued and which you can purchase. If you love good comics and hate irrational bullies, might want to look at them.

Spam of the day:


Does … does this actually work? Like people don’t get automated renewal notices 30 days in advance and know that they paid their registration fees and click on your link in Gabon?

¹ I’m going to guess that you never want to see that sentence aimed at you by a federal judge, along with The Compliant, which is largely incomprehensible, and Plaintiff has filed no fewer than eleven different lawsuits in federal courts alone over the past seven years in relation to these claims. As Judge Julie Carnes in the Northern District of Georgia concluded in 2008: she “will not allow plaintiffs to waste any more of defendant’s or this Court’s time or resources.”

Those quotes, by the way, are from 2012. The dismissal of the suit against Panetta, Ganuchau, and Dark Horse was five years later, and he appealed, six months or so later. I don’t have docket access to see when that might have been resolved, but as Panetta speaks in the past tense, I’m guessing it was, like so many prior suits, dismissed with prejudice.

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