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Fantagraphics vs. Everyone (Part Two)

 

Capital City’s Collapse and a New Status Quo

Larry Reid: When I started working there in ’92, Fantagraphics, and all comics publishers, I believe, survived solely with this very odd economic model called the Direct Market. It was wonderful for the publishers because you get these preorders from Capital, Diamond and then there were a couple of smaller ones, and you knew exactly how many comics you were going to sell three months in advance. You printed that many, and then they were gone.

It was hard enough competing with the Image titles and their imitators, but then Gary went out of his way to piss these people off and call them names, God love him. And I didn’t really have a problem with that, because he was right, they were shlockmeisters and they were dumb assholes and I didn’t like them.

Groth: We were being marginalized more and more at this point, because there was a lot of money to be made due to the popularity of Image and comics retailers were paying more attention to that and less attention to the kinds of comics we did. You could feel a tectonic shift. Everyone was trying to exploit this insane commercial bubble of Image — creators and retailers and anyone else who could ride the Image gravy train and make some dough before it collapsed. It was like getting in on a housing bubble and ripping off as many people as you can before it blows up in your face. Our sales just flattened out or diminished at this point, which was frustrating.

Reid: While Fantagraphics was sort of taking over the hipster world, there were like, probably 10 carbon copies of Image Comics. I can’t even remember; they all just came and went. I think that Image bubble, when that burst, that really imploded the whole Direct Market. But that was complicated, because Fantagraphics was getting squeezed out of shelf-space in all the comic book stores.

Spurgeon: The short form is that the big companies were pumping out an enormous amount of product and the smaller companies were basically just trying to hang on, keep a presence on the shelves, keep some focus on what they were doing. Marvel never really understood why they were paying money to distributors, so they bought a regional distributor called Heroes World and tried to distribute themselves. DC reacted by entering into a secret deal with Diamond that gave them exclusivity and DC the option of later purchasing the company, exposed by Eric Reynolds at the Journal. This set up a drama for the summer of 1995: Would the remaining companies, particularly Dark Horse and — by a factor of 10 over Dark Horse — Image Comics, join DC at Diamond or keep Diamond’s competitor Capital alive?

A Steve Geppi/Alfred E. Neuman mashup doodled by Eric Reynolds at Pro/Con 1995.

A Steve Geppi/Alfred E. Neuman mashup doodled by Eric Reynolds at Pro/Con 1995.

Reynolds: Although I was merely a reporter covering it and not actively involved in the business, it seemed logical to me at the time that allowing so much of the distribution business to be consolidated into one distributor was a terrible idea. When we exposed DC’s secret deal with Diamond — which granted them favored-nation status, favorable trade terms and even an option to purchase Diamond outright — in the wake of Marvel purchasing their own distributor, it felt like we had the smoking gun that could undermine Diamond’s efforts to line up the remaining publishers. But of course that didn’t happen. The two publishers who could have tipped the scales and kept Capital alive — Dark Horse and especially Image Comics — cravenly lined up behind DC at Diamond and almost immediately put Capital out of business. It’s been over 20 years now that Diamond has had no competition.

I remember visiting Capital in Madison, Wisconsin, around this time and they had a dartboard made out of Diamond owner Steve Geppi’s face.

Groth: Our sales were not particularly affected by Capital’s absorption into Diamond. And although Capital went out of business owing us about a 100 thousand dollars, they eventually paid it; it took them a couple years, but they eventually paid every cent. Which is unheard of. It is to Milton Griepp and John Davis’ everlasting credit that Capital was the only distributor who ever went under who paid its debts.

Spurgeon: A few companies went exclusive with Capital, I guess in the long term to set them up as an “all the rest” distributor, or maybe to keep them alive until a possible lawsuit could be filed against Diamond’s dominance. Or maybe just to be contrary, I don’t know. Capital ceased distributing at exactly the wrong moment for Kitchen Sink: During the opening for the movie The Crow II, which bombed and cut short the company’s window for selling merchandise to almost exactly the number of days Capital was off the grid. This hastened their demise.

Matt Counts: The Capital City crash was basically the worst. When the dust cleared, we were pretty much left with Diamond being everything and Last Gasp being five to 10 percent of that at the most. I had moments where I was pretty sure that Fantagraphics would have to cut back considerably. I was certain people were going to be laid off, [but] as long as Kim and Gary could scrape together enough money to publish a comic book, Fantagraphics would keep going.

Groth: I’m still puzzled by the behavior of the majority of the publishers, who essentially created a monopoly with Diamond. I still don’t get it. Clearly, they wanted a monopoly, because they essentially created one. I don’t understand that.

Reynolds: At one point, we even discussed starting our own distribution with a few publishers like Drawn and Quarterly, Slave Labor, Black Eye and a few others.

Groth: We published the Paul Levitz memo in the Journal where DC’s option to buy Diamond was revealed. I remember talking to Larry Marder at Image about that, and basically he didn’t give a shit. I thought it would be a revelation to him, that he would step up and say, “No, we can’t let this happen and we have a tremendous amount of clout and we are going to keep at least two distributors alive,” and basically he, and I assume all the Image partners, for whatever reasons, when they had the option of either going with Capital or sticking with both of them, chose to go with Diamond and kill Capital. Dark Horse made the same choice. Capital clearly would have served as a perfectly acceptable distributor in the direct-sales market and a counterweight to Diamond. Diamond could not have offered Image anything that Capital couldn’t, and in fact, Diamond probably had to offer them less because they became a monopoly. But for reasons that will probably forever remain a mystery, neither Image nor Dark Horse elected to keep two distributors alive in the direct-sales market. So much for competition being an essential ingredient of capitalism.

Reynolds: The DC memo was possibly the biggest story the Journal ever broke. Probably my most memorable moment working for the Journal was interviewing DC publisher Paul Levitz at the time. He didn’t know that we had the memo, which was leaked to me by a confidential source at DC. When he denied several of the terms of the deal as laid out in the memo, I called him on it and revealed that we were publishing the memo. He hung up on me almost immediately and the then-publicist at DC told me afterward that I could forget about ever interviewing anyone at DC again. It was a tremendously important story that had ramifications that affected literally anyone in the business, yet I don’t remember there really being any fallout from it whatsoever. Image and Dark Horse just lined right up behind DC, and everyone seemed to simply accept it, just as they do now.

That probably chipped away at my desire to continue to cover the industry in that way, to be honest. If no one else in the business cared about this stuff, well, then it’s every publisher for himself and I’m going all-in with Fantagraphics.

Groth: I remember that being a pivotal point in the history of investigative journalism in comics. Fans didn’t give a shit, professionals didn’t give a shit. We could’ve revealed a secret memo from Image saying, “Hey, let’s fuck over every small publisher and form a cartel,” and no one would’ve given a damn. I think the comics industry had at this point settled into the business-as-usual status quo. Throughout the ’80s, the direct-sales comics market was young enough so that business practices and attitudes hadn’t yet been codified. In the ’90s, the atmosphere had become more competitive, more cutthroat and it was every man for himself.

I mean, prior to that period, creators were probably treated worse than they were in other fields in general; by the mid ’90s, they were treated at least as well as anywhere else and possibly slightly better.

I think what slowly happened through the ’80s and into the ’90s in mainstream comics is that creators got more power, the power imbalance shifted so that it wasn’t as lopsided as it had been, and things settled into some sort of acceptable capitalist status quo. There simply wasn’t the kind of consensus injustices that people could rail against effectively.

Gary Groth in his kitchen, circa early 2000s.

Gary Groth in his kitchen, circa early 2000s.

It’s what happens in this country: If you have a nice, fat and happy middle class, the implicit message is, “Fuck the rest of you.” Not enough of them to worry about, they have no political clout, nobody gives a shit about them, they’re too demoralized by it to do anything about it, and they don’t or can’t make enough noise. In the comics profession now, you’ve got a few superstars at the top, you’ve got the mid-list sellers and everyone else.

What you had in the ’80s were people who were willing to make noise, these sort of upper-level mainstream creators like Steve Gerber and Steve Skeates and Frank Brunner and and the whole slew of creators that Jim Shooter threw out of Marvel or who quit. Many of the writers whose interviews appeared in the [Comics Journal Library] Writers book, probably, who were making waves. As soon as Marvel and DC acquiesced and gave them a cut of the profits, basically everyone shut up.

Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, probably a lot of these guys — they’re making tons of money. Brian Michael Bendis. And everyone basically wants to be like them, and they don’t want to rock the boat, because if you rock the boat your chances of making as much money as them goes from one percent to zero percent. It’s a microcosm of the wider American public, where everyone thinks he can be a millionaire, which is why no one wants to tax the rich. You’ve got people earning 20 thousand dollars a year who don’t want the rich taxed. Why? They all think they’re going to be rich. It’s a sucker club.


22 Responses to Fantagraphics vs. Everyone (Part Two)

  1. The Harvey Pekar anecdotes seem off. First of all, Crumb and the other artists Pekar worked with don’t have any formal copyright interest in the American Splendor material. The registrations are solely in Pekar’s name. Beyond that, given the timeframe, I’d be surprised if Pekar was in a position to give permission to use the stories in The Complete Crumb Comics. Four Walls Eight Windows held the book-publishing license for the material in the 1990s, and the decision was most likely theirs. Their Bob ‘n’ Harv Comics collection came out at about the same time as the first Complete Crumb volume with Pekar stories. They would understandably be reluctant about allowing a competing book into the market. In short, I suspect the problem was a business issue, rather than some personal nonsense on Pekar’s end. Joyce Brabner would probably know for sure.

    As for the rest of the excerpts from this book, I must say it paints quite a portrait of Gary Groth’s conduct as an employer, his attitude towards employees, and the workplace environment he fostered. The Frank Young sections were particularly telling.

  2. Paul Tumey says:

    These excerpts are fascinating to read — they don’t seem to enlighten me much on comics as an art, but they are juicy as hell. I cringe to read this stuff and realize how badly business in the comics industry was conducted back in those times. I hope some can learn from this history — but the “sucker club” mentality has persisted throughout American comics, going back to the early days of newspaper strips. One tiny thing I noticed: the Steve Geppi/Alfred E. Neuman mashup identified as a doodle by Eric Reynolds to my eye appears to have the handwriting of art spiegelman in the lower “What? Me worry” part. Either that, or Reynolds’ handwriting is a dead ringer for spiegelman’s, which is certainly possible. The drawing itself looks a lot like spiegelman’s style, as well. The lettering in the two upper balloons is by another hand.

  3. skrillexfan says:

    The Comics Journal was started by the same people who started Fantagraphics?

  4. sammy says:

    Martin, you sound ridiculous. Crumb, nor any artist, needs to hold the copyright on something to WANT to include it in their books. Things are done informally, work made for the passion of it, its completely normal to try to get something in your collection even if you don’t technically own it. Obviously Crumb felt the work he did with Pekar was significant enough to want to include it in his Complete Crumb collection series. Does that that even need to be clarified? And the idea that because some short strips appear in one book, they can’t appear in a different book of mostly different work is ridiculous especially in Crumb’s case where it seems he rarely, if ever, signed exclusive agreements-at any time, you can buy multiple crumb books with overlapping material. at this moment, the same strips appear in the Complete Weirdo from Last Gasp, The Complete Crumb from Fanta and in Sex Obsessions published by Taschen. Get a grip, dude.

    Reading the Fanta oral history, the thing that is most striking about Groth is that he was rallying day and night as if his life depended on it, for something that didn’t even exist-there’s about five years between the start of the journal and his discovery of Love and Rockets. That’s some serious conviction that comics can be literature without actually having an example of what you mean. The other striking thing is, is that kim jumped on already moving train that Groth had built and was already steering with sheer force of will. I love Kim and think of him as Groth’s partner all the way(especially after he lovingly passive-aggressively squeezed Catron out), but Groth was a man on a mission.

    sikrillexfan, please reach out to robert martin, and do a podcast together. I think there might be gold there. please post a link here when it’s done.

  5. skrillexfan says:

    Honesty Sammy “Harkham”, I’m surprised you had enough balls to think misspelling my name was a good idea. Let me explain what’s happening here to you

    This is a oral history book of self-promoting statements describing a critical journal that self-promoted the books that it published, and still does including the self-promotional oral history book I just mentioned.

    And you’re mad there is one negative comment and my own slightly satirical anonymous comment?

    What would be the motivation of adding any positive encouragement to these people on top of what they’ve already provided themselves? They’ve constantly been telling us so: they won the comic culture wars. Their mailboxes are choked with unwanted submissions they throw into a brand-new green dumpster.

    Sure,you can go the “hypocrite” route that robert martin went but that’s beside the point. I’m not interested in that point.

    My point is that it’s obvious that fantagraphics has chosen to reinforce it’s image rather than waste their resources on new creators. That’s fine but new creators aren’t going to waste their resources taking this book at face value.

    Sure, their image is appealing. I’m into it of course, we’ve all stared at it for years. But soon their won’t be much of a difference between the insider dirt in this book and “The Secret History” by Procopius.

    So you see Sammy, you made a mistake. i don’t even listen to skrillex. I’m a 23 years old creator.

    so yeah dumbass, maybe there is gold here. I worship myself, just like fantagraphics does. In that way I’m imitating them on a truer path than anyone in Kramers could ever dream of following

  6. Jones, one of the Jones boys says:

    I’m with Robert: **based on the excerpts here**, Groth sounds like he fostered an abusive, bullying work environment at the Journal and Fantagraphics. Prima facie, it looks like, if he was working in a business he didn’t own himself, he’d be fired and/or sued, or he ought to be. While we’re at it, it looks like that, secunda and tertia facie, too

  7. Ayo says:

    Hold the phone–fantagraphics has a NEW green dumpster?

  8. Sammy says:

    Skrillexfan, huh? good grief I misspelled your internet handle. That’s all, buddy. i liked your post, honest.

    Anyhow, another great line in this insanely awesome book comes from jim woodring describing an artist’s work as looking “like Elfquest as rendered by a third-rate Hare Krishna painter.”

  9. blerg says:

    Harkham’s response to Martin was epic and long-overdue. Like any human work, a comments thread should know when to quit, and now we’re heading into Before Watchmen/Perpetual Star Wars territory.

  10. I don’t know where I said or implied that Crumb was opposed to including the American Splendor material in The Complete Crumb Comics. I’m sure he’s always been in favor of it.

    All I said about Crumb was that he doesn’t appear to have an ownership stake in the material. That means he doesn’t have any rights. He cannot authorize the material’s use.

    I also never said that because material is featured in one book it cannot be featured in another. Of course it can. However, when one publisher holds the publishing rights, other publishers are generally required to get that publisher’s permission before including the material in their projects.

    That’s why I doubt that Last Gasp, Fantagraphics, and Taschen are all publishing Crumb work from Weirdo on a non-exclusive basis. I would expect that one of them has signed a license with Crumb for exclusive control of the publishing rights. The other two would be including portions of that material in their projects with the first publisher’s permission. I don’t know for sure in this instance, but that’s usually how these situations work.

    I would not call The Complete Crumb Comics, Volume 12, and Bob ‘n’ Harv’s Comics “different book[s] of mostly different work.” Over a third of the page count in that Complete Crumb volume—50+ pages–is taken up with Pekar material. That’s a lot of overlap.

  11. Skrillexfan says:

    Oh course I have nothing personal personal against you, Sammy. I just wanted to make clear to the community that my negativity has been carefully thought through and is multifaceted. Your post read as if it was attempting to lump all the fantagraphics haters together, and I am here to bear witness that we are a diverse group each with our own life story and unique perspective. New strands of this hate are being developed everyday, each more nuanced and exquisite than the last.

    Perhaps I should have merely recounted my observation of Fantagraphics at SPX2016. As niche celebrities they walked among us but the niche architecture favored them. What is an impressionable youth like myself to make of this? For a new generation, the conceit that fantagraphics are the underdog is something that must be taught as an historical truth, not something that we can ever learn through experiences.

  12. Eric Reynolds says:

    Dammit, it’s true: Art Spiegelman drew that caricature of Steve Geppi. I was just fronting for him because the political fallout to Spiegelman’s career would have been too devastating were the truth to come out.

  13. Wis says:

    What’s amazing is that Groth and someone like Joe Quesada are two sides of the same coin, whatever fundamental differences they have on the presentation, and value, of art. Both are whiny faux-tough guys who have a chip on their shoulder about comic books being taken seriously as some deep art by the unenlightened and elusive “mainstream”. If only they KNEW what deep shit the Europeans think comics are! Then they’d be sorry! Yeah right. Fantagraphics has always felt the rules don’t apply to them; they can put out public domain Simon & Kirby collections and not pay royalties and their PR rep can be biased and operate under a conflict of interest promoting their own significant other’s work over other creators under the Fantagraphics umbrella. A sucker’s game indeed.

  14. sammy says:

    Wis,
    Yes, everybody knows Jacq Cohen promotes her husband’s work more than any other artist and it was only until they got married that he had any success at all. Until then, nobody had ever heard of him. And if it wasn’t for her giving him ALL of fantagraphics resources, and none to anyone else, he would be nobody and all those underselling cartoonists would skyrocket, because we all know the only thing getting in the way of success for art comics is PROMOTION. Get a fucking grip. Talk about groping around for something whine about, good grief. There are legitimate worthy complaints about Groth and Fantagraphics, but your’s aren’t them. Gary never gave a shit about mainstream success-he was interested in ANY sustaining audience regardless of where it was or it’s size. There’s a big difference between that and what your saying, ding dong.

    my main complaint with WE TOLD YOU SO is not enough Dennis Worden and Frank Thorne.

  15. skrillexfan says:

    Wis,

    I agree with Sammy that attacking Simon/Jacq is not a strong approach to take in criticizing fantagraphics. We should all celebrate that comics have the ability to get someone laid. Furthermore, I’m not not sure how many people view fantagraphics today as an entity to any degree concerned with morality, since publishing, advertising and editing seem to be occupations based entirely on arbitrarily personalized preferences. Hopefully Sammy will tell us what he thinks the “legitimate worthy complaints about Groth and Fantagraphics” are and we can all use those to accomplish our goal.

    Also, I think this whole thread should return our focus to some of the really strong points I made in my earlier comments

  16. Dan Nadel says:

    I’m amazed that 40 years later Fantagraphics still causes such indignant outrage. Good lord. I thought only white men over the age of 50 still cared.

    Skrillexfan (why would anyone use that handle?) and, uh, Wis:

    Like Sammy, I agree that there are many legit complaints one could lodge about Fanta, some of which I’ve written about just recently on this very site and told Gary as well. I think that the history books are sometimes suffering from poor editing; I think the advertising campaign around the superhero books is, at best, socially, morally and aesthetically insulting. But whatever! I don’t let that spill over to my enjoyment of Joe Daly’s work.

    But you’re talking about the company ignoring younger creators, and that’s just false. Fanta is publishing more young cartoonists per year than any other publishing company in the world right now. Do I think it’s all good? No, of course not. But it’s a fact. And why in heaven’s name wouldn’t a company the size of Fanta have good signage at a trade show or convention? That’s just good business.

    Of course no one expects a young (20? 15?) person to know the history of the company, but at the same time, that’s what the book is for (as well as various looks back on this site). It’s a book that is, as Sammy notes, short on some people and long on others, but is hardly makes anyone central to Fanta look good! And before you say it, the title is transparently ironic. I know, irony is a hold over from the 90s. But so are many of us. Honestly, why would anyone, in 2017, “hate” a publishing company as diverse in its offerings as Fantagraphics? I don’t love it (I don’t love any companies) but it beats the hell out of anything else out there.

    And finally, the idea that a publicist would have a “conflict of interest” is just silly. Publicity is all about conflicts of interests! I’ll chalk up that weird obsession to inexperience in publishing. As has been the case for the last few decades, a lot (but not all) of the rage against Groth, TCJ, etc etc is internal to the person raging. It means you’re investing this company, which you know little about, and a person you know even less about, with far more power than they have. It’s a publishing company, not an empire. If only you knew how little money and power is involved. Oy vey. It’s small stakes. It’s great art and it represents a few life’s works, but it’s still, as anyone there would admit, small stakes in publishing.

    And finally, Robert Stanley Martin, says: “That’s why I doubt that Last Gasp, Fantagraphics, and Taschen are all publishing Crumb work from Weirdo on a non-exclusive basis. I would expect that one of them has signed a license with Crumb for exclusive control of the publishing rights. The other two would be including portions of that material in their projects with the first publisher’s permission. I don’t know for sure in this instance, but that’s usually how these situations work.”

    Actually, that’s exactly NOT how these situations work in independent, artist-centric publishing. That’s how it might work with a licensed property (I don’t know), but in the case of someone like Crumb (or, hell, we can use my own output as an example), he and his agent control the rights and can sell them non-exclusively if they please. It wouldn’t make business or creative sense to leave it all with a single publishing entity. The publishers know (as I would know as a publisher) that you make the book you make, and sell it based on Crumb’s “brand” not on exclusivity.

    That’s all! Happy new year.

  17. Dan–

    While Crumb and/or his agent CAN offer the rights to a specific effort or efforts non-exclusively, a publisher who isn’t a fool is extremely unlikely to publish the effort(s) if the publisher does not have exclusive rights, including approval for permissions. The reason why is publishers, unless they have a business death wish, want to make money from their publications. Entering into a publishing situation where a competing edition of material can be allowed into the marketplace regardless of your interests is self-destructive. A competing edition means your edition is that much less likely to make money for you.

    Publishers are often willing to grant permission for selections from the material they control if it is for a project that is not in direct competition with their offerings. An example is Alice Munro and Random House. RH can and does authorize the use of individual Munro stories to various anthologies, including the PEN/O. Henry Prize and Best American short-story annuals. The assumption is that people are not buying those anthologies strictly for the Munro work–it makes up a small fraction of the publication’s page count–and the inclusion helps promote Munro’s work to readers who have not previously taken an interest in her writing.

    The all but certain reason why you haven’t seen, for example, RandomHouse/Pantheon and Drawn & Quarterly editions of Ghost World, is because Fantagraphics has exclusive book rights to the material. I seriously doubt it’s because Daniel Clowes and his agent have decided to be nice to Fantagraphics and chosen not to license the material with competitors.

    I’m sure similar reasons are behind why Fantagraphics, despite a decade of promising, have yet to release a Complete Crumb volume featuring Crumb’s Hup! material. Last Gasp, not Crumb and his agent, most likely holds the rights to that work, and they’re not willing to grant permission for a competing edition at least until they sell out their inventory of the original comics.

    As I recall, Dan, you went out of business as a publisher. Could your “artist-centric,” non-exclusive philosophy of publishing have been a contributing factor?

  18. skrillexfan says:

    Dan,

    Thank you for your response

    I should have clarified that by “young” creators I was specifically envisioning a unpublished creator under the age of 25. “Straight out of Art School”. A debut similar to Dash Shaw’s “Bottomless Belly Button” was what I’ve convinced myself Fantagraphics are uninterested in replicating on a regular basis. Of course, pointing this out doesn’t really disparage Fantagraphics in anyway since no publishers are giving away debuts of this nature on a consistent basis.

    All the artists in the SPX panel “Fantagraphics Next Wave”, (Anya Davidson, Benjamin Marra, Noah Van Sciver, Simon Hanselmann, and Julia Gfrorer) are very cool. “We Told You So” is cool as well. But both of these “waves” translate very clearly to an artist my age as defining the limits of my value. I’m glad I’ve remained anonymous through all of this, as I’m quickly starting to understand insulting my distorted expectations must be to these creators who have labored many years. This might have been the end of my career.

  19. R. Fiore says:

    My recollection of conversations with Gary about the negotiations with Harvey Pekar about including American Splendor material in The Complete Crumb, which are only as good as my recollection and should not be taken as gospel, anyway my recollection is Gary told me he kept asking Harvey until Harvey said yes, and then he didn’t ask him any more. My distinct impression was that the negotiations were with Harvey directly and not any third party.

  20. R. Fiore says:

    Subsequent to the previous posting I recalled an occult method of divination known to the cognoscenti as “Looking at the Copyright Page of the Book.” There I find that the publishers thanked Harvey Pekar for giving his permission to include the American Splendor material, and the matter is identified as being copyright Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb. There is no notice of any other publisher giving permission to use the material.

    The notice on Taschen’s recently published Crumb Sketchbook Volume 1 says that it’s copyright Robert Crumb 2014.

  21. Copyright pages have been known to contain errors, and since Fantagraphics does not file copyright registrations for their publications as a rule, you cannot verify that claim with the Copyright Office.

    However, when I go over and check the Copyright Office’s database, this is what I find. All issues of American Splendor are copyright Harvey Pekar and only Harvey Pekar. No copyright registration was filed for the first Doubleday collection, although a registration was filed for Crumb’s introduction, which is copyright Robert Crumb. The registration for the second Doubleday collection says it is copyright Harvey Pekar and only Harvey Pekar. Four Walls Eight Windows did not file registrations for their editions. Ballantine’s Best of American Splendor anthology is copyright Harvey Pekar and only Harvey Pekar. According to the copyright office, Pekar claimed exclusive copyright to the material, and those claims were reaffirmed on multiple occasions. There is not a single instance on record of a shared copyright between Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb.

  22. Dan Nadel says:

    Robert Stanley Martin: You switched topics and tacks, so I don’t really know what else to say other than to point out a few things: Arguing about contracts you have never seen is futile at best. Speculating about the business practices of artists and publishers is equally futile, since you have no experience in the field. I will note, however, that contrary to your ad hominem quip, I did not “go out of business”. PictureBox is not releasing new books, but the backlist is active, as are royalties. The web site is quite clear about that. When I referred to my own output I meant as an author of multiple books and essays published by different houses, galleries, and museums.

    Oy! What a waste of time. I am embarrassed that I even engaged the trolls. I’d almost forgotten that attempting to deal in a good faith, factual manner with trolls like RSM is…interesting. Sorry everyone. I’m going to close this thread down because I think it’s spiraling into a classic black hole of silliness.