FEATURES : COLUMNS : REVIEWS : NEWS : FILM & TV : FORUMS : UGO

ABOUT




New Doc Ock Hits Spider-Man
Have you seen the new Doctor Octopus, designed by fan-favorite artist Humberto Ramos? Click to dig the Doc.
Marvel Hires New Publisher
Following such rumors, Marvel today announced that Bill Jemas has been replaced as Publisher. Now read who took his job.
CrossGen's Solus #7
CrossGen thinks you'll love George Pérez's new issue of Solus. And to prove it, here's a five-page preview.
Marvel Searches For She-Hulk
Writer Geoff Johns and artist Scott Kolins reunite for Marvel's Avengers as they search for She-Hulk.
Virtex Returns For Digital Webbing
A comic about a cybernetic cowboy that hunts outlaws riding dinosaurs? Where do we sign up? Read on and find out.
Marvel's Mutants Gains New Penciler
Marvel's New Mutants has a new artist onboard, and we've got a five-page preview. See if he's got the chops.
Image Rocks Out With Shangri-La
Are you ready to rock and roll? Image is, with their upcoming graphic novel Shangri-La. Read the details here.
Marvel Teams Up For A Good Cause
Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk team up for charity in a special December one-shot. Read all about it.
Davis' Marquis Returns In December
Guy Davis' sin-slayer is back in The Marquis: Intermezzo, coming from Oni Press. Read all about it.
Marvel Unveils '04 FF Plans
Marvel plans three Fantastic Four series for 2004, and we've got the details and preview art. Check this out.
2F2F DVD Contest
The hit street racing film 2 Fast 2 Furious is driving to DVD players near you. Win a free copy from Slush and Universal.
 








Opinion:
Comics & Copyright
By Joshua Elder

02.04.03


On Jan. 15, the Supreme Court upheld a recent law extending the duration of a copyright 20 years beyond its previous limit. This is a major victory for companies like AOL/Time Warner and Disney – many of whose characters would have begun entering the public domain otherwise.

And the media conglomerates’ gain is the public’s loss. The Constitution gives Congress the power “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” This raises the question: does giving a corporation what amounts to perpetual copyright protection actually promote progress? The answer: of course not.


Article continued below advertisement


Corporate characters – from Archie to the X-Men - are, by nature, static and unchanging. From a creative standpoint this is utter suicide, but from a business perspective it makes perfect sense. Characters that remain essentially the same over the years are easier to license and easier to account for on a balance sheet. The suits don’t care if that makes the characters irrelevant – as long as they still get a decent return on their investment. If the formula works, why risk changing it?

This is the antithesis of progress. It dooms the characters to a slow but steady decline into obsolescence, it turns them into “institutions” (read: characters that everybody knows but nobody cares about), and it keeps them out of the intellectual jungle that is the public domain – the one place where they might actually find a new lease on life. It also encourages companies to stop producing new ideas and instead concentrate on rehashing and revamping old ones. In the long run, this is as detrimental to the big media companies as it is to the consumer. The companies may be preserving the “integrity” of their characters, but what good will that do them if nobody cares about the characters anymore? For the comics industry – one so utterly and totally reliant upon franchise characters for its very existence – this is a form of slow suicide.

Thankfully Marvel refuses to let its flagship characters go quietly into that good night. With the launch of the Ultimate line, Marvel has found a way to have their cake and eat it too. The regular MU titles get to be the corporate standard bearers while the Ultimate line is freed to tell stories that actually mean something. Just compare Avengers with Ultimates. Avengers is a fine superhero comic that I enjoy reading every month, but I don’t wait breathlessly in anticipation for each issue like I do for Ultimates. The latter is simply a better book because it is able to step outside the choking confines of formulaic storytelling.

One of the earliest doom-filled predictions about the Ultimate line was that it would cannibalize sales of its MU counterparts. That couldn’t be more wrong. The Ultimate creators raised the bar fore their MU counterparts, but the old school writers and artists were up to the challenge. Amazing Spider-Man, New X-Men and Avengers are the best they’ve been in years. The quality is up and so are sales. As this example proves, a little competition can go a long way.

Bereft of an Ultimate-style line, the sales of the DC franchise characters are suffering. It’s true that Crisis did modernize and streamline most of DC’s marquee characters, but that was over 15 years ago and they’ve acquired a lot of new baggage since then. And to be honest, Crisis left a lot of the DCU’s history intact – creating almost as many continuity conundrums as it solved. DC needs to follow Marvel’s lead and create a line independent of the DCU where their flagship characters – Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman – can be freed to reach their full potential.

Creative freedom is absolutely necessary if Marvel and DC want to keep their franchise characters – and their companies - alive through the rest of this century. The courts have given them another 20 years of exclusive copyright. Let’s hope they make good use of it.

 

 
E-Mail Author  |  Archive  |  Tell A Friend

 

 



 
Sword of Dracula
Slush launches our Halloween countdown with the first in a series of spooky reviews. First up? New series, Sword of Dracula.
John Byrne's IMO
This week John points out that fans cannot read the minds of creators, although you wouldn't know that by listening to some of them.
The Dead Zone
Flesh-eating zombies battle the last remaining police officer in Image's new series, The Walking Dead. We review the first issue.
Steve Niles Interview
Slush interviews Steve Niles, the acclaimed writer of 30 Days of Night, who tells us about the relaunch of Fused.
A Spidery Preview
Have you seen the new Doctor Octopus, designed by fan-favorite artist Humberto Ramos? Click to dig the Doc.
Kill Bill Review
Slush reviews the first installment of Quentin Tarantino's kung fu slasher masterpiece, Kill Bill.
Viper Interview
Slush takes a look at new publisher Viper Comics, and interviews the guys behind two of its hottest books.
Peanuts Collected
Cartoon fans rejoice. Fantagraphics is reprinting the entire collection of Charles Schulz' Peanuts. Read on for details.


CHANNELS:  Features | Columns | Reviews | News | Film & TV | Forums | Slushfactory.com

Copyright © 2003 Slush Factory Entertainment (E-mail)
All Rights Reserved : No portion of Slush may be reprinted in any form without prior consent