The Today Show, 1989. Posted by tomtiddler1.
Hi, I'm Thad.
I'm a thirty-year-old computer scientist who's spent the last few years bouncing from one temp IT job to another.
I just got married.
The Today Show, 1989. Posted by tomtiddler1.
Via uploader coltin5, who says it's from a concert in Saarbrucken, Germany.
Archie is the most anti-creator publisher in the comics industry.
DC's bad. Marvel's worse. But Archie is the worst.
To this day, Archie's official company line is that Archie (the character) was created by company founder John Goldwater, while Bob Montana merely created "the original characters' likenesses". And it took an out-of-court settlement for Bob Montana to get even that half-assed credit.
And talking of court cases, what happened when Dan DeCarlo tried to get a piece of the Josie and the Pussycats movie? He was fired. After freelancing for the company for forty years and becoming the definitive Archie artist (and indeed the definitive "good girl" artist). And firing him apparently wasn't enough — Archie actually started removing his name from reprints.
Archie has the gall to continue to claim that Dan DeCarlo didn't actually create Josie — a character who is named after his wife.
Archie creators don't even get royalties or any form of profit sharing — you get a page rate and that's all.
So it was against this historical backdrop that I heard Ken Penders claim that his Sonic comics had not been work-for-hire, and I was skeptical. Well, "skeptical" is one of the politer words I used at the time — I also said his claims "strike me as some legitimately crazy shit".
(I suspected for awhile that this was why I was never approved to post on Ken's messageboard; now I'm more inclined to believe it's just an automated system that filters out four-letter names as probable spambots. At any rate, it was still a rude thing to say and I now believe it was factually inaccurate besides.)
That was my read on the case for the first couple years it ran, but not long after that, the other shoe dropped and the scope of what Penders was really claiming became clear: Archie never made him sign a contract. If you look through my posts from around that time (and I'll have a bibliography post in the next couple days), you can watch the scope of the claim begin to dawn on me and my view of the case start to shift to Penders's favor.
Hard as it was to believe, it was starting to look like Archie, the company that had been so iron-fisted in its treatment of its own creators over the past 70 years, really had dropped the ball. Ken wasn't the only creator making these claims. Scott Shaw, Elliot Maggin, and a laundry list of others were too.
Here's the thing about work-for-hire: under the Copyright Act of 1976, work-for-hire agreements must be made in advance, in writing. If Ken did not sign a contract before producing his work, then it was not work-for-hire.
Which still doesn't necessarily mean, in and of itself, that he didn't transfer the rights to Sega by way of Archie — he could have sold the rights, even if the work wasn't produced for-hire.
But that doesn't seem to have happened.
Archie has produced some contracts which appear to have Penders's signature on them — but they're sloppy, incomplete photocopies, and they're dated years after Ken first started writing and drawing Sonic comics. Ken has implied, though he's been very careful not to say it outright, that his signature may even be forged on them.
And personally — and please note that this is pure unsubstantiated conjecture on my part — I think he's got proof. Because by the end of last year, Archie was talking settlement.
Indeed, Archie's lawyer recently said the company was "desperate" to settle. But it hasn't.
And that's because this isn't just about Ken Penders and Archie. Sonic is a licensed comic; Sega owns the rights. Not just to the original characters, but to all the comics and everything in them. If Archie lost the license, Sega would retain the rights to reprint everything through another publisher (like how Dark Horse can reprint Marvel-era Conan and Star Wars).
At least, that's how it's supposed to work. But, if Ken is right and Archie never made him sign a contract, that means he owns, or at least co-owns, all the material he wrote or drew.
The way the contracts were supposed to work is that the writers and artists sign them and immediately give up the rights to Sega. According to Penders, Shaw, Maggin, et al, that didn't happen.
So Sega is denied the ownership it expected, because Archie screwed up the paperwork.
And, not to put too fine a point on it, Sega's been sued over it. And might be again.
Because I've been talking about Archie v Penders here, but there's another suit out there: Penders v Sega and EA.
The Sega/BioWare game Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood included villains who resembled Penders's Dark Legion characters. I will grant that I've never played Dark Brotherhood — but I'll also say that the very first thing I thought when I saw the advertising materials was "Oh, it's the Dark Legion."
So Archie v Penders has a direct bearing on Penders v Sega and EA — because the outcome of Archie v Penders will determine whether Penders owns the Dark Legion and has grounds to sue for their appropriation in the first place.
If I were representing Sega, I'd be pretty angry at Archie for fouling up the paperwork and putting my company into this position. And I'm willing to bet that Sega is a lot less interested in settling than Archie is. Because even if it reaches an arrangement where it pays out a small, one-time settlement fee and doesn't have to worry about paying Penders for reprints or for any future games or reissues, a settlement opens the door for more writers and artists to assert their copyrights and pursue compensation.
So that's where things stand as of last week. Archie wants to settle but Sega hasn't granted approval for a settlement.
The judge is pushing to bring Sega in on the negotiations ASAP, and that should determine whether the suits are settled or go to trial. There should be more news any day now.
Well! That was quite a lengthy outage. Apparently my provider was moving to a new building.
I should be back with my next Penders post later this evening.
Been awhile since we checked in on Ed Seeman. Here's a post he calls Electric Circus 60's Disco Zappa Music, with the following explanation:
This 60's disco was located just below Andy Warhol's Loft and down the block on St. Marx Place in Greenwich Village from where Zappa was playing for six months at the Garrick Theater. So I used his music from my "Uncle meat" footage to score this completely unedited film shot on one 100ft. roll.
Thanks for all the posts, Ed. Looking forward to many more.
I'd like to talk about Archie v Penders, because it fascinates the hell out of me. In fact, I've got enough to say about it that I'll be on the subject for most of the week, if not longer.
But I should probably get some disclosure out of the way first.
First of all, my feelings on creators' rights are pretty well known.
And second, I corresponded with Ken Penders for years in the mid-1990's and he was pretty cool to me.
It may be hard to remember in these days where I can just get into a political debate with Ethan van Sciver or ask Kurt Busiek about his unpublished Final Fantasy comics, but it wasn't so long ago that most people didn't have the Internet and it wasn't common for fans to connect directly, personally, and regularly with comics creators.
The first cartoonist who I ever knew to directly engage his fans online was Ken Penders. (Not the first person, and not even the first person who worked on Sonic the Hedgehog at Archie — that honor goes to editor Paul Castiglia, who likewise was a class act — but the first person who was actually writing, drawing, and inking the things.)
In those days, the main place where I participated in Sonic fandom was on a mailing list run by Ron Bauerle. And when I say "mailing list" I mean something less sophisticated than an automated majordomo system; I mean people E-Mailed Ron and he forwarded those E-Mails to a list of addresses, manually, with some edits and comments of his own.
Ken was kind, engaged, patient, and forthcoming. He took the credit or blame for ideas that were his, and he was entirely candid about decisions that were forced on him by Archie or Sega.
I always liked the guy, though I grant I often had a funny way of showing it. I was thirteen, fourteen years old, and behaved about like you expect an angry, entitled, teenage member of comic book fandom to behave. And Ken was always patient and polite with me (and others), even when I didn't earn it.
In my defense, there were times when he actively and transparently trolled the fans. The biggest thing that ever happened on Ron's mailing list was when one day Ken posted — in a fake casual, "oh by the way" manner — that he'd just written a script where he killed off Princess Sally.
He may not have deserved all the vitriol he got for that — but he did very clearly and deliberately invite it.
(And while I remember being nastier than I should have been, I won't recant the substance of my criticism of the story — if possible, my disdain for the "women in refrigerators" and "revolving door of death" tropes has only deepened in the intervening years. It was a terrible idea, a terrible execution, and, all right, at least the "Director's Cut" reissue of #50 shows that editorial meddling made the comic even worse than if Ken had done it the way he wanted to.)
But again, I always liked Ken — he was a nice, friendly, forthright guy, who made time for his fans. Even when I didn't like the comics he was writing or drawing, I still liked him.
And, nontrivially, I also think he's a big part of why Archie's Sonic comic is still out there.
The mid-1990's were a weird time for Sonic fandom. The cartoon had ended, and the games were going through what would become the longest dry spell in their history.
Nobody expected, fifteen and twenty years ago, that Sonic the Hedgehog would still be running in 2013, zooming toward issue #250. (And that fact is essential to understanding the current legal disputes. It looks to me like Archie got sloppy with its paperwork, precisely because this was a licensed comic that they didn't think would last. But more on that tomorrow.)
Indeed, Ken didn't tell us at the time, but there was every possibility that the book was going to end with #50. I mean, given that the story arc was called Endgame, that should have been obvious, in hindsight.
But Ken, more than anybody else, is the guy who kept the book afloat. He's the one who took the wheel in the teens (#16?) and decided the book should depart from the slapstick roots of the Scott Shaw/Mike Gallagher/Dave Manak era and generally start to look more like the Saturday morning cartoon. He wrote more complex, character-based stories. That's how the comic attracted an audience outside its 8-to-12-year-old target, how it managed to keep its 8-to-12-year-old target, and generally the reason there's still a Sonic comic at all. Ken believed in the book, he took it seriously, he made it the best he could. It wasn't always great — in fact, there were times it was downright lousy. But a Ken Penders story was still usually better than anything printed in the first 15 issues.
And look, I quit reading Sonic comics ages ago. People say Ian Flynn is great and I take them at their word. I definitely acknowledge the possibility that he's writing better comics than Ken ever was. I don't know.
But I am pretty confident that Ian Potto would never have gotten a job writing Sonic the Hedgehog if not for Ken Penders. Firstly, because there wouldn't have been a Sonic comic if Ken hadn't shepherded it through some of its most turbulent years, and secondly, because it was guys like Ken, Paul, and Karl Bollers who interacted directly with the fandom and created an environment where fans like Flynn and Dawn Best could actually make the step to pro.
So anyhow, that's my bias in all this. I like Ken Penders as a dude. I like a lot of what he did when he wrote and drew Sonic and Knuckles. I don't like a lot of what he did, too — and while a lot of that's down to editorial meddling by Archie and Sega, some of it is indeed down to decisions made by Ken himself.
But that's not why I think he's right and should win the case against Archie — indeed, when he first announced he was pursuing legal remedies I thought he must be crazy, and said so, rather rudely.
But as the facts have come out, I've found myself believing Ken isn't just morally in the right, he's legally in the right.
And that doesn't have anything to do with whether I, or anyone else, actually like him, as a person or as a writer or as an artist.
That's a point Sonic fanboys just can't seem to grasp in this case: whether or not you personally like Ken Penders's Sonic and Knuckles comics is completely irrelevant to the merits of his legal case.
I'm sure somebody's got this in better quality somewhere, but here's the one I ran across, courtesy of uploader qahtani.
"People are people and they are basically bad."
A little cynical for my tastes, but I must say I enjoy his commentary.
Uploaded by LightningStrat. He doesn't name the original source but it looks like the early '80's and those subtitles are German.
You know, I'll say one thing for Windows:
Every single time I have a problem with Linux serious enough that I start to contemplate how much easier life would be if I just used Windows, Windows finds a way of reminding me that no I really wouldn't at all.
I don't know what happened to my HTPC. I suspected file corruption, but chkdsk /f came up clean; waiting on /r right now. Sincerely hope there's nothing wrong with my hard drive; I've reinstalled enough OS's in the past few weeks. And anyway, I've run chkdsk and it's come out clean.
It worked all right when I sat down. A little sluggish bringing up Colbert, and the lipsync was off for a bit, but it self-corrected and played all right. Right up until the end, when VLC hung and then everything else hung.
I did a hard reset; the system hung again, solid hard drive light, and I saw something I've never seen before: when I hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete, it stalled and eventually pulled up an error message saying it couldn't bring the Ctrl-Alt-Del screen up.
Repeat this stuff over a few reboots and iterations, some Safe Mode, the erroneous theory that last night's AVG update was responsible…you get the idea.
No idea what the fuck is wrong. Tired of this shit. Why must all my computers fail at once?
I'm typing this on my laptop. Which I haven't upgraded to the latest version of Ubuntu yet, because I don't need one more computer to break.