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Strip 583, Volume 4, Page 60


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< Piro >

Saeko and Tomu Remix

"a big month"

Sunday - July 11, 2004

[Piro] - 14:55:00 - [link here]

Whew, what a week. I can't believe it's Sunday again. Looking ahead, I can see that the end of the month is coming up, and coming up fast. I need to get on the ball and update you folks on the two major things coming up at the end of this month. First there is San Diego Comic Con, and the second is the opening of the official new Megatokyo store, Megagear. I'll start with the Megagear stuff :)

It's weird, but I almost feel like i've been working on some kind of secret project. The blow by blow coverage of what it takes to get something like this up and rolling is interesting, but we've been too busy doing it to actually write about it :) Merchandise has already started to arrive here and I'm starting to get a feel for what the new line of Megatokyo stuff looks like. It's both exciting and nerve racking at the same time. Kinda like every comic i post - you have no idea if people are going to like them or not. In the end, my approach to designing t-shirts and stuff is the same as my approach to writing and doing comics - i make comics i'd like to read, and i make shirts that i'd like to wear and stuff i'd like to buy. I'm wearing one of the new shirts right now, actually. :)

Also, i have been getting a lot of emails about availability of things that were in the Think Geek store. Right now, if you head over to the ThinkGeek store you will find the remaining selection of what they have in stock, and if you'd like anything, please be sure to snap it up :) Not all items we were offering before we be available in the new store, but some will. For instance, we will have Ninj4 Hoodies, Megatokyo bookbags, the 3ViL L33t shirt and one or two other designs. Unfortunately, we will not have any more Miho or Kimiko blankets. We have other stuff in the works :)

It has taken quite a bit of willpower to not show you the new stuff. While it's true that a lots of my creative flotsam and jetsam never spills out onto the net, more often than not when i create something i think is worth showing people, it goes online (like this sketch of Saeko and Tomu I did the other day - I scanned and posted it on Fredart the next morning). In fact, on those rare occasions when i do finish a comic ahead of time, you have no idea how hard it is not to just post it. I'm spoiled, i guess. I tend to get instant feedback on stuff as soon as i finish it.

A lot of work went into the new stuff for the store. There are seven new t-shirt designs and six new ladies t-shirt designs, there is a new ball cap (it's so cute!) and knit cap (which is pretty cool). Sarah worked very hard to determine what would be the best kind of ladies shirt to use because we wanted girls shirts that didn't require you to have a Barbie doll figure to wear. I just finished a new mousepad design last night (it's the nice kind, not those horrid fabric things :P). I have to finalize the sticker designs. I have to figure out how to make this design for a coffee mug work. There's other stuff in the works too, stuff that will be coming in the weeks and months that follow the opening of the store. We will be offering a selection of art supplies, including sketchbooks (I have to keep resisting reaching into the box and grabbing them to use them :P). I'm having trouble locating a source for a particular .5 mm pencil i love to use that i'd like to offer in the store (i'll probably have to find a way to smuggle them in from japan :P). We're still working on the store website, i still have a lot of graphics to finish, i have only recently finished the overall design concept for the site. The list goes on.

It's all a little nerve racking because you really don't know if people are gonna like the new stuff, or if they will react well to the new website. I feel good about everything so far, and I guess we'll find out if you folks like them when the store opens on July 30th. That is, unless you are going to San Diego Comic Con.

Sarah and I are once again going to San Diego Comic Con, and we will be there for the entire show. We have a booth - booth number 2722 - and it's in a remarkably nice location right near the Dark Horse booth. We will be bringing a nice selection of the new merchandise to San Diego, so if you are coming to the show you'll be the first to not only see the new stuff, but to purchase it as well. The less we have to take home with us the better, too :)

San Diego Comic Con runs from Wednesday, July 21st (Wednesday night is Preview night), right thru Sunday, July 25th. Friday the 23rd will be a big day for Megatokyo at SDCC. The Megatokyo panel will be at 3:00 pm in room 8, and based on the fact that the room for our panel last year was *way* too small, the nice folks at SDCC have given us a much bigger room, so hopefully all of you can make it in this time. After this, I will be doing a book signing at the Dark Horse booth from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. It's kinda weird, having a signing scheduled right after Mike Mingola and Guillermo del Toro. ^^;;; While i will be spending as much time at the Megatokyo booth as possible, signing stuff and doing little scribbles for people, this will be my main scheduled signing, so feel free to show up and cause some havoc at the Dark Horse booth. Havoc is good. :P

Speaking of havoc, i was very surprised when i read this report over on ICv2 called "ICv2 Looks at Manga Channel Shift". Actually, the first time i read it, i didn't really look at the listing of the Manga top 50 for the 2nd quarter of 2004 as listed in the article. I knew that Megatokyo had been doing pretty well, but I didn't really expect it to be in that list - certainly not in the top 25 Manga titles. It took an email from someone to point out to me that not only was Megatokyo in that list, but it was number 10. Wow. Uhm, Wow. Give yourselves a hand, folks. That's some kind of support. Thank you, you have no idea how awesome that is.

One other little bit of havoc can be found in the July issue of Animerica. Y'now, years and years ago, when i first started really getting into anime, i started collecting Animerica magazine. This was back when i was collecting Ranma 1/2 VHS tapes - DUBS no less. ^^;; Now, here we are 9 years or so later, and this month's issue has a 3 page article on me and Megatokyo. ^^;;; I'm honored that Animerica felt that Megatokyo was worth giving a three-page feature. I'd also like to thank Dan for writing such a nice article. :) It's kinda weird seeing 'megatokyo' on the cover with Inu Yasha. Crazy stuff.

Anyways, this week is going to be a particularly long one. I have to do a comic each day this week in order to be ahead enough to keep the comic on schedule for our trip to San Diego. I'm taking a very serious approach to this, and i'm really keen on actually making this happen this week. It'll be interesting to see if planning ahead actually works. :P And on that note, i better get my butt to work. :P

< Seraphim >

From a video by Keith Sanborn - "The Artwork in the Age of its Mechanical Reproducibility by Walter Benjamin as told to Keith Sanborn"

"John Reid"

Monday - July 12, 2004

[Seraphim] - 19:30:00 - [link here]

The most interesting class I had last semester was on copyright issues including fair use and infringement. There have been some good cases this year. In February there was a decision on the Neil Gaiman/Todd McFarlane lawsuit over joint copyright ownership of several Spawn characters. The judge's decision in the case was some of the best legal writing I have ever read. It was what actually kicked off 'Seraphim Theater' dramatic readings. I read all 29 pages out loud to Piro while he was drawing (the comic was probably late that night). Any legal document or ruling that says things like, "McFarlane's original Spawn, Al Simmons, was a tall figure clad in what looks like spandex (it is actually "a neural parasite)" is brilliant writing in my book. The decision also reads, "But the Lone Ranger doesn't have a proper name either (at least not one known to most of his audience-actually he does have a proper name, John Reid)" - I did not know that. What a riot. The judge and his law clerk seemed to have a sense of humor and must be golden age comic fans. You can read the entire decision at Find Law under U.S. Court of Appeals Opinions and Websites 7th Circuit. Search for Gaiman or McFarlane.

My interest in copyright has to do with Piro, obviously, but also as a librarian. As a student you are bombarded with it in almost every class. Last semester an Intellectual Property Rights lawyer gave a lecture. She recommended some interesting sites. One was the Copyright Website. It has many notable copyright cases - some won, some lost. The movie The Devil's Advocate was embroiled in a lawsuit regarding the sculpture behind the desk in the devil's office. It was actually lifted from the facade of the National Cathedral in Washington. I'm sure they thought they were being really clever using a religious sculpture. Warner Brother was allowed to release 475,000 copies of the DVD that had been made but additional releases have all been re-edited. Which one do you have? Piro's disclaimer - you have natural copyright when you produce a work and can force people to stop infringing on your rights but registering the copyright with the Library of Congress allows you sue others for damages.

The website Illegal Art features examples of artists using corporate images, logos, and brands in their works. When you mess with corporate America the terms parody and fair use don't seem to apply. In the not too distant past the gents over at Penny Arcade got a cease and desist letter about a certain fruity entertainment character. No, not the robot with the orange. Would the company have sued Penny Arcade? Probably not. Would they have won if they had? I highly doubt it. Corporate America just wants to push people around and stifle creativity and thought. Suing the smaller guys was just made a little less attractive by the ruling in a case between Mattel and an artist who used Barbie dolls. Admittedly the dolls were not portrayed very flattering but the was his entire point. The photo I saw had Barbie dolls as the stuffing in an enchilada wrapped in tortillas and sauce laid out in a baking dish inside an oven. Mattel lost not only their case and their appeal - they were ordered to pay the plaintiff's $1.8 million in legal fees. Mattel is like 0-2. They also lost a case against MCA Records for the Aqua song "Barbie Girl". That makes me smile.

I just picked up a Fantagraphics book "The Pirates and the Mouse which is about Disney taking on underground comic artists in the 60's. The case is referenced many times in the Gaiman ruling so it must have become case law. I'm just positive that Disney's new movie, which is nothing more than a glorified National Geographic made for T.V. documentary, is a brown nosing attempt to get copyright protection into perpetuity for their herd of corporate characters. They managed to strong arm (or buy) another 20 year extension so what's another eon or two?


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