Tag Archives: Superman

COPYRAGE: Sony screws Bob Dylan fans with ridiculously limited-edition box set

7 Jan

by Mike Hansen

Bob Dylan 50th front

Way to rub it in everyone’s faces, Sony!

U.S. copyright law tends to revolve around ensuring that Disney continues to own Mickey Mouse in perpetuity (along with Warner Brothers clinging tenaciously to Superman and Batman, Marvel to Captain America, etc.). In Europe, it seems to be all about its music superstars.

Today, Rolling Stone reported something sure to annoy 99.999999999999% of Bob Dylan fans: about 100 copies of an official 4-CD, 86-song Bob Dylan box set of 1962 outtakes (Dylan’s first year with Columbia Records, now owned by Sony Music).

“This isn’t a scheme to make money,” a Sony Music source tells Rolling Stone. “The copyright law in Europe was recently extended from 50 to 70 years for everything recorded in 1963 and beyond. With everything before that, there’s a new ‘Use It or Lose It’ provision. It basically said, ‘If you haven’t used the recordings in the first 50 years, you aren’t going to get any more.'”

Bob Dylan 50th backSo even though Sony doesn’t intend to make money from these recordings (most of which are widely available on bootleg), it wants to ensure that they don’t enter the public domain so they can be freely copied and shared. Really? Is Sony that afraid of having to compete with anyone’s ability to package, release, and distribute the material in a manner of their choosing?

Bob Dylan’s 1962 debut LP became a part of the European public domain on January 1st, meaning anybody in Europe can release the music without paying Dylan one dime. “The whole point of copyrighting this stuff is that we intend to do something with it at some point in the future,” says the source. “But it wasn’t the right time to do it right after he released Tempest. There are other things we want to do in 2013 though.”

Oh, okay: so Sony DOES intend to make money off it. LATER. So they’re lying. Classy!

I’m all for compensating artists for their work, but these are recordings that sat on the shelf for over 50 years while the artist and record company made no effort to make a penny off them. And instead of just allowing the material to become public-domain (like Dylan’s first album and, I assume, the Beatles’ earliest recordings), Sony released just *100* copies of the material to protect its copyright while ensuring that virtually 0% of Bob Dylan fans will actually (legally) hear the material. In a business where record labels routinely underpay their artists (and overpay their executives), this is simply a corporate move to hold onto property it doesn’t care about, just in case it might be worth a few dollars later. This doesn’t benefit the artist; it doesn’t benefit the consumer; and it doesn’t benefit the corporate behemoth greedily clutching the rights. What’s the point?

According to the New York Times, it looks like only Dylan fans in France and Germany can legally download this material from the artist’s website. What?

… Sony is not alone. Universal, which owns the Motown catalog, has released a series of jazz, gospel and rhythm and blues albums under the rubric “Motown Unreleased 1962,” which makes a large body of its unissued archives eligible for the European copyright extension.

Wow. If this isn’t abuse of copyright law, I don’t know what is. It’s no wonder music fans continue to use extralegal methods to acquire music. This is Exhibit A for why copyright law needs to be amended for the benefit of creators and the public, instead of for corporations that behave like mental patients.

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Hey, it’s a Brand New DC NEW 52 survey

22 Jun

by Mike Hansen

Frankenstein (DC Comics)

A New 52 character. Also a metaphor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m back, folks!

Looks like DC Comics has stuck with Nielsen to offer another online survey – go here and let them know what you think of the New 52 so far. I just took the survey, and I was happy to let DC know what it’s doing right or wrong.

One thing to watch out for: “Orange Ivy” is the fake title this time. Make sure you mark that you’ve never heard of it, or you won’t be able to take the full survey.

A couple of thoughts on the survey:

Once again, there is no option for indicating that a customer purchased print comics from an online comics retailer. Some of the questions about going to a comics shop and making impulse purchases or whatever don’t really apply if some of the comics were preordered online.

Also, the survey did not ask any detailed questions about the characters, story, or creative teams – there was one question about how important these are to me when I buy comics. I suppose DC doesn’t want its readers second-guessing the always-fine decisions made by its editorial staff.

Anyway, check out the survey – and feel free to let me know what you think…

More Links Catch-Up (Walking Dead, Superman, Alan Moore, Joss Whedon, D&D, etc.)

14 Jun

by Mike Hansen

CBLDF

CBLDF (Photo credit: badlyricpolice)

Sorry about the lack of posts yesterday – I’m hammering away on some comics story proposals to pitch to publishers in the coming weeks. I’ll be sharing more info about them in the future. In the meantime, I thought you’d dig these stories:

Awesome story about a kid who asks a comics retailer, “Are you Superman?”

After moving their channel numbers, Dish Network has threatened to stop carrying AMC’s networks next month. That means no more Walking Dead and Comic Book Men (among others) for millions of people. Click here to tell Dish what you think about this.

The CBLDF gives a quick take on the mother who complained about an Alan Moore comic at a library being available for teens. (While I’d call Neonomicon one of Moore’s more “adult-oriented” comics, I’d never suggest that teenagers aren’t mature enough to handle “mature-readers” comics – after all, I happily read Elfquest, Groo, Swamp Thing, Sandman, and Hellblazer as a kid – all of which had nudity, sex, and/or “graphic” violence…)

Now that the Avengers Continue reading

Links: The Oatmeal update, Avengers, New 52, World War Z, etc.

12 Jun

by Mike Hansen

The cover of World War Z

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew Inman at The Oatmeal raised his $20,000 to spite FunnyJunk in only 64 minutes. He’s now at over $117,000.

Warren Ellis explains why he’s cool with Iron Man 3 using his ideas without paying him. (At least modern creators know what they’re getting into – too bad it doesn’t help the original creators that built comics in the 1930s-1970s.)

Liked the Avengers movie? Support the Jack Kirby Museum!

Were cave dwellers the first animators? Could be.

Speaking of animation – this is the greatest comics commercial I’ve EVER SEEN:

Why can’t DC’s New 52 commercials be that good? (And why are the currently running commercials advertising the upcoming collected editions almost exactly the same as the old ones? That’s a good way to get kids to tune out.)

Speaking of the New 52, it looks like Continue reading

LOTS o’ Links (May 30 2012)

30 May

by Mike Hansen

Jack Kirby with Avengers cover

Hail to the King, baby.

The best links I’ve come across in the last few days/weeks – bookmark and read at your leisure:

The Bonfire Agency has put its money where its mouth is, and created FanPan, an online consumer focus group for comics readers. Sounds interesting.

The ONLY Avengers film review you need to read.

Possibly the most important comic you can buy and/or download this year: STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE, from one of America’s best investigative journalists (whose work towers over the often-shoddy reporting of U.S. corporate media). Check it out.

Since I’ve been talking about bonus features, here’s something everyone should know about DVD bonus features. Mark Evanier shines a light on something rather messed up about multimillion-dollar movie studios.

On a related note, here’s a horror story of how Warner Bros treats the translators of Harry Potter novels around the world. They’re even not invited to the film premieres, even when their work is used for the films without credit or payment. Classy.

Would WB treat J.K. Rowling the way DC treated Alan Moore? (Or just their translators?)

Did you know that the first appearance of Batman has rarely been reprinted in its original form? Most “reprints” are actually an edited and REDRAWN version of the story – see this post for a dramatic comparison of a few panels. Ugh! (If you want to read the real deal, it seems that the Batman in the Forties trade paperback is the only recent reprint of the actual original.)

Nice interview with Matt Wagner on his final Zorro story arc – Wagner remains one of the best writers (and artists) in comics, and his Zorro work is one of the best things Dynamite’s ever published. I recommend it for, well, pretty much everyone.

Have you seen this adorable story of how Marvel created a deaf superhero to convince a child to wear his hearing aid? Big points to Marvel for this one.

In the wake of the Avengers movie’s success, Image publisher Eric Stephenson republished his essay on Jack Kirby.

Legendary Marvel writer/artist Jim Starlin (whose work was credited in the Avengers film) had to buy his own ticket. And didn’t get any money for the use of his work. Sigh.

A surprising profile/interview with Stan Lee (who, unlike former freelance Marvel writers and artists, gets $1 million a year for life from Marvel) actually got his take on creators’ rights. Here’s another interview with Lee along the same lines.

Here’s Chris Roberson’s full interview with the Comics Journal in the wake of his departure from DC.

Batman in the Forties TPB cover

The only place to read the REAL original Batman story?

The CEOs of Disney (which owns Marvel) and Time Warner (which owns DC) were each paid millions of dollars last year. I wonder how much the creators of the superheroes they own made.

This is old news at this point, but the comments thread of this piece on Before Watchmen at The Beat is well worth reading – lots of comics pros have things to say, including Toby Cypress, Stuart Moore, Ed Brubaker, and Kurt Busiek.

Former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter has a lot to say about the “shared-universe” concept and a new business model for work-for-hire. Can it be done? I dunno, but it raises some interesting ideas. (This post is also the last of a series reacting to brilliant futurist Cory Doctorow (of BoingBoing, the best must-read website on the planet) and his ideas about using technology to share ideas and work. Obviously, I recommend them, too.)

A just-released German Donald Duck reprint accidentally misused the word “holocaust.” Oops.

An Iranian cartoonist was recently sentenced to 25 lashings for daring to draw a member of Iran’s parliament wearing a soccer jersey. Dear Iran: Go fuck yourselves.

A Swedish manga translator was put on a sex-offenders list and forced to lose his job and “manga expert” title for owning comics that were ruled “child pornography.” This, of course, does not do one damn thing to protect actual children from actual offenders. Good job, Sweden.

Steve Bennett has the most interesting take I’ve seen yet on the “gay people in comics” issue:

Why now?  Because we’ve undoubtedly reached the tipping point where homosexuality has become so ubiquitous in American life if it’s absent in popular culture its noticeable.  And as to why comics?  Because comics are, hopefully, still a part of mainstream American popular culture, and to be that it was to reflect reality… even if there are people who reject it.

This ties in to something that drives me nuts about most movies and TV, which is the continuing near-absence of minorities besides “token” characters with race-based dialogue (“Aw, hell no!”). And, of course, there’s the Bechdel Test

Okay, so WHY am I linking to things that criticize Marvel and DC while interviewing people who work for Marvel? Well, Continue reading

The internet reacts to gay people in comics

29 May

by Mike Hansen

A lot of folks have piped in on this already, but here are a couple of images that I thought worth sharing:

TERRIBLE PARENTING

(Personally, I don’t have a problem with kids looking at either – kids are smart enough to know what they can handle. But this still makes a good point.)

Ty Templeton on why gayness matters in a super-heroThat’s really shoving it down our throats!  (Originally posted here.)

Thieving Bastard Gets 6 Years in Prison for Stealing Superman Stuff

16 Nov

by Mike Hansen

This is an original Superman costume owned by ...

Here, donators, put this on. You've earned it. (Image via Wikipedia)

I saw this yesterday and forgot to mention it (and I’m probably the last to, at this point…) – the Belleville News Democrat reports that scumbag Gerry Armbruster, the man who stole 1800 Superman items from a disabled collector, was sentenced to six years in prison:

…[Theft victim Mike] Meyer was touring [Superman co-creator Jerry] Siegel’s home Tuesday when he heard that Armbruster had pleaded guilty and received a six-year prison sentence.

“Mike said he wishes they could have put him in for a couple of years longer, but he is happy that (Armbruster) will spend some time behind bars,” said Keith Howard, friend and fellow Superman fan who accompanied Meyer to Cleveland.

Police caught up to Armbruster in September while investigating another crime: Armbruster had beaten and robbed a 76-year-old man who was trying to hire him to clean up a vacant business on the block.

Armbruster pleaded guilty to residential burglary and aggravated battery…

What an absolute bastard. I wish him luck finding a job in six years: I don’t think Google will be very forgiving to him in that time.

I’m Continue reading

DC New 52: I Read a Bunch More #1s (and a Few Others)

18 Oct
Superman making his debut in Action Comics #1 ...

Boy, this comic sucked. Good thing it's being rebooted! (Image via Wikipedia)

Okay, this is just about my last word on the DC New 52. I need to figure out which titles I want to keep checking out, so I can finish this month’s Previews order! DC’s New 52 sales are great; they’re not gonna be as great in a year as people start trade-waiting or dropping titles entirely; and hopefully the quality will continue to improve…

If anything, I have to say that the first impression of the New 52 given by Justice League #1 isn’t all that accurate: this isn’t the DC Universe told early-Image-style, just Justice League. Every book really does have its own identity, rather than a uniform (and boring) house style; and DC deserves praise for this. Not that every title is good – in fact, some are pretty dreadful – but it’s easy to see that they’re trying.

(I should also mention that any criticisms of the creators’ work on these series is not entirely their fault: the New 52 clearly has a much stronger editorial and management influence than most work-for-hire projects, and plenty of blame can be laid at the feet of DC for what doesn’t work. On the other hand, I’m going to blame the creators themselves for everything that’s done right: If they’re doing incredible work while giving up their rights to it, they deserve the credit for its success.)

(And yeah, I know all of these books came out a few weeks ago. This ain’t Comic Book Resources, kids!)

Now, let’s see if any of these are as good as DC’s best company-owned title, Tiny Titans

Action Comics 1 cover

Gowan, now, git!

Action Comics #1 & 2: I’m impressed. Writer Grant Morrison has found a way to write about Superman’s early days in Metropolis in a way I haven’t quite seen before. The story Continue reading

Superman Fan Mike Meyer’s Happy Ending

17 Oct
Superman's origin is reimagined in The Man of ...

Today, Mike Meyer is a Superman. (Image via Wikipedia)

In what must be the most heart-warming story I’ve talked about on this site, Super-fan Mike Meyer has donated his extra Superman comics and items to his local children’s hospital.

From Comics Alliance:

It didn’t seem like there could be a better ending to the case of Mike Meyer than the return of his vast collection of Superman comic books and collectibles following their alleged theft by a man who pretended to be his friend, but we think you’ll agree this is it… the comics community rallied in support of Meyer, a 48-year-old lifelong Superman fan who lives on part-time work at McDonald’s and Social Security for a mental disability, by organizing a drive to replace the items that had been so cruelly stolen. With his collection now recovered by police and the alleged thief in jail, Meyer took a cue from the selfless superhero he idolizes by donating to a local children’s hospital the excess items that were donated to him.

…Over the course of his life Continue reading

DC New 52: I read SWAMP THING #1 & 2

6 Oct

by Mike Hansen

Swamp Thing 1 cover

"I've...got...your...NOSE..."

I’d read a lot of positive comments online about the new Swamp Thing series by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

So far, it’s pretty good.

More than anything, I can’t help but notice the strong references to Alan Moore’s definitive run on Swamp Thing. I’ve read very few Swamp Thing stories beyond Moore and Rick Veitch’s runs, and the original run by creators Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, and I’m guessing that DC expects this of much of the new series’ audience: In addition to homages in the art backgrounds to significant Swamp Thing creators like John Totleben, Steve Bissette, and the above-mentioned writers and artists, series artist Yanick Paquette creates layouts that heavily reference the classic work of those same artists. It’s a nice tribute, and an easy way to say to the reader that this new series aspires to live up to the lofty standards of the previous classic stories.

I hope Continue reading

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