Got Me Swinging

Today on the site, in case you were concerned that we would slack off on our Jack Kirby coverage, Jeff Trexler explores the most recent developments in the Kirby legal battle.

On Monday the Supreme Court announced that yet another brief has been filed in support of the Kirby family’s attempt to regain the copyright to key Marvel properties. Have these briefs truly made it all but certain that the Court will not just agree to hear the case in the 2014-15 term, but rule that Jack Kirby’s creations were not work for hire?

To get the full significance of these filings it can be helpful to understand what they are. The technical term for the briefs that were filed is amicus curiae (plural: amici). This is Latin for “friend of court,” a description reflecting the fact that the person filing such a brief is not a party to the case.  Amicus briefs have become rather popular in recent years, and it’s not uncommon to read reports about how a particular brief is destined to change the world forever. This might be true in some instances, but such reports can also be the sign of a legal Funky Flashman — attorneys, academics and interest groups often use such briefs to promote their causes or themselves, and it is not uncommon for the filing of an amicus brief to be accompanied by an aggressive PR outreach.  This can serve any number of purposes, such as drumming up business, fundraising, pacifying members, or building a lobbying campaign for legal reform. Making an effective case for those with the most to lose may be beside the point.

As a result, the ABA Journal notes in a recent articlethe filing of amicus briefs is not in itself a sign of momentum for either side. The Court can receive anywhere from several dozen to over a hundred amicus briefs on a single case, and some Justices view these filings as little more than flies in the judicial chardonnay. While having a respected author can increase the likelihood that the clerks and Justices might at least take an amicus seriously, that will not save it if the argument contains mistakes or merely repeats what the parties have already said.

And Brian Nicholson reviews QCHQ.

The book looks exquisite. The art is beautiful, brightly colored, and feels smooth to the eye, with its primary palette based around the bright orange of the Nickelodeon logo and the pinks and turquoises of fluorescent neon gels. Anyone who has been looking for a heir to Paper Rad’s approach to color and settling for Brendan McCarthy comics or Lynn Varley’s work in The Dark Knight Strikes Again can breathe a sigh of relief. Here is a step forward that operates on a level of artistic awareness, rather than just playing with various effects filters. Speer’s work embraces the aesthetic appeal of gloss but seems aware that “rendering” refers not just to the time it takes a computer to create a viewable form of an effects-laden image, but also to the industrial processing of lard.


You know it's not George Gene Gustines writing when there's a culturally relevant story about comics in the New York Times. So naturally it's Guy Trebay on my pals Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbein's MASSIVE operation. I can't think of a happier comics story of late: Good things happening for good people serving good art.

Here's a fine interview with Sam Alden.

Hey, why don't you go over here and read about Jeff Koons. It's a pretty good piece by Jerry Saltz that takes in the meaning behind the art and money. This has little or nothing to do with comics, but something to do with "comics" in the Koons approach to appropriation, which is about as interesting as all discussions of appropriation are: Not that interesting. Wasn't someone talking recently about comics as a middle-class proposition? Read about Jeff Koons and try to imagine anything even 5% comparable in comics, in terms of financial and cultural support/power. Our major distribution network for new work is a series of gymnasiums across the country. One of our two major collecting institutions actually (proudly!) dedicates resources to Elfquest and Chris Claremont. It's hilarious and yet still better than it used to be. At least there's more and better work than ever before. That's a bonus. One such new work is Dash Shaw's Cosplayers 2, which everyone on earth should buy. It's nice that one of the best living cartoonists in the world releases total gems of comic books like it's no big thing.