Sunday, June 17, 2012

Marvel Boycott Diary: Quick Update On Winning, Losing

As usual, and into the future, the Marvel Boycott continues. Just a quick note, not a real update or anything. I mostly wanted to share this scan from one of my local papers, The Kitchener-Waterloo Record, from last month. The article is a reprinting of James Sturm's boycott article from Slate that was picked up by a number of papers months after it was originally posted online, on the eve of the Avengers movie premiere. The K-W Record is owned by The Toronto Star and I believe the article was first reprinted there. No comment on the article, except to say that I agree with everything in it. My chief joy is the headline, which is the sort of thing I never expected to see in print outside of the comic fan press, nevermind the daily newspaper I used to deliver as a member of my own childhood newsboy legion.

I probably won't be posting Boycott updates here as frequently as I have over the past few months. In many ways, the dialogue started by "Steve Bissette when he made the initial call for action in the wake of the Kirby v Marvel court decision last summer has borne strange and wonderful fruit, and the boycotters have succeeded beyond their imaginings. Sure, Marvel and Disney haven't reversed their stance and suddenly sharing copyrights with the Kirby heirs and other creators, nor has one iota of the billions of dollars The Avengers has made been earmarked for comics creators, but I think the tiny noise we have made has had some positive effect.

First, comics readers and the general public alike have been made aware that all is not perfect in Marvel land. Blog posts, newspaper articles and twitter conversations have made sure that thousands of people discussed the historical injustices perpetrated by Marvel on Jack Kirby and other comics creators in terms of fair payment, copyright, royalties, merchandising, etc. As well, the conversation has expanded to a consideration of the larger comics industry, especially after the news of Before Watchmen and Alan Moore's objections to the continued use of the characters and stories he created.

Second, the boycott has led some people to think about their place in the system and how they want that system to look. Creators and fans have reevaluated their approach to working for Marvel and DC and buying the product from Marvel and DC. Fan favourite creators have seen shifts in their readership based on how they approach these questions. We have actually had discussions about ethics and morals in comics and some people have actually changed their behaviours based on those (ongoing) discussions!

By these standards I feel that the boycott has been a success. The whole enterprise has something of a quixotic feel to it and maybe most of those involved didn't even dream that a handful of disorganized, disillusioned and angry comic book fans could have an effect on the policies or profits of one of the largest entertainment corporations in the world, but students of boycotts will tell you that the process of calling for big changes often leads to important little changes in consciousness and action.

That being said, I don't intend to stop calling for big changes. And I don't plan on buying Marvel or DC comics anytime soon, either.

Until next time, please remember to Boycott Marvel!


Cartoonist Seth on the Marvel Boycott

Should We Boycott Marvel?

The Jack Kirby Petition at

Friday, June 01, 2012

Mystery Hoard: Herman

Posted a note about the passing of cartoonist Jim Unger the other day and later was talking with a group of friends about the "Herman legacy" when one suggested that any nostalgia we might feel for early period Unger cartoons will easily be satiated by walking into any thrift store on the planet where the Herman treasuries could surely be found in abundance. Sure enough, six hours later I wandered into just such a store and stumbled upon the Mystery Hoard you see gingerly clutched in my hot little hands in this photo. Of course, I didn't buy the things since everyone knows that 98% of all Herman books have spent the bulk of their existence in people's bathrooms and are the greatest repositories of mildew, feces, and E. Coli bacteria known to man, outside of the executive boardrooms of Marvel and DC Comics.