Saturday, November 27, 2021

Comic Book Recommendations - 2021


            Another year is almost over, and once again, I’m going to provide a list of some of the creator-owned books I enjoyed this year. They may have been released in 2021; they may not have. As I stated in my 2020 list, I’m often woefully behind in reading. (Check out the 2020 list for some more great books.)

            I’ve provided links where I can. Links to Amazon will be affiliate links. Anywhere else is not. Even so, if you’re intrigued by these books, try to buy them from your local comic shop or book store.

 Chu, vol. 1 by John Layman and Dan Boultwood

I was a big fan of Chew, and I’m glad to have a return to its world. This time, it follows a sister of Tony Chu, the lead from Chew. While there are nice nods to the original series, this book stands alone and is easy to dive into for new readers.


The Good Asian, vol. 1 by Pornsak Pichetshote and Alexandre Tefenkgi

I’m a sucker for good film noir, and Pichetshote and Tefenkgi are nailing the vibe in this book. It’s an engaging read that explores some heavy topics around immigration and fitting in.


 Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams by Michael Allred and Steve Horton

The initial attraction for me was the trippy Allred art, but Horton and Allred also craft an interesting and informative book charting the beginning of Bowie’s career.


The Department of Truth, vol. 1, but James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds

A fascinating book exploring what would happen if false narratives became real.


Y: The Last Man, Book 5, by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra

I was incredibly late to reading this book, but it is excellent. The story follows the lone male survivor after a virus wipes out the male population on Earth.

 Murder Falcon by Daniel Warren Johnston

A surprisingly fun and emotional book with an interesting story and great art.


Black Magick: The First Book of Shadows by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott

A solid detective/murder story following a police detective who is also secretly a witch.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Do Dr. Seuss and Fair Use (Comic)Mix? - Part 4


            It was recently announced that the lawsuit between Dr. Seuss Enterprises and ComicMix has settled.[1] I have been following the case since it began in 2016, and I’ve previously written entries about it. You can find the most recent entry, summarizing the Ninth Circuit overriding the lower court’s finding of fair use, here.

            In a filing with the court, ComicMix and Seuss agreed that ComicMix’s book Oh, The Places You’ll  Boldly Go! infringes on copyrights owned by Seuss, and ComicMix is prohibited from selling or distributing the book. ComicMix has stated that the motivation to settle the case was Ty Templeton’s recent diagnosis with cancer. ComicMix, and the other defendants, chose not to continue with the lawsuit so that Templeton could focus on getting better.[2]

            Five years after it began, the case is over. ComicMix prevailed on quite a few of the claims Seuss initially asserted, but after its initial fair use win was reversed by the Ninth Circuit, it decided to stop fighting. As I mentioned in a previous post, most companies and people don’t fight this long. It is time-consuming and expensive to do so. However, when these disputes do get litigated, it helps shape the law and provide guidance for others.

            What did the ComicMix case achieve? It showed that it can be difficult to prevail on a claim of trademark or trade dress infringement based on distinctive typography in a book. It clarified some of the fair use factors used to determine whether a work is a copyright infringement. Finally, it serves as a warning that mashing up two different properties does not automatically qualify as a fair use under copyright law.

            If you learn anything from this case, it should be to proceed cautiously when you are utilizing someone else’s work or character without their permission in your own work. Unless it qualifies as a fair use, it is likely copyright infringement, and if you want to claim fair use, you may have to go to court to defend yourself.