Thursday, August 02, 2007

In "Valiant" Vs. "Valiant," It's The Fans Who Suffer

Christ on a cracker -- check out this copyright mess with the Valiant characters.

Apparently during San Diego, at the same time Valiant Entertainment was talking "Harbinger" at the Valiant Fans panel, this ashcan called "Valiant Sneak Peak" was making the rounds at $40 a pop.

"Valiant Sneak Peak" features uncredited revamps of classic and nont-so-classic Valiant/Acclaim characters including a female Ninjak. It was put out by "Valiant Intellectual Properties."

Here at Newsarama you can read all about the arcane legal issues involved. If you can follow it, God bless you. It's all Greek to me, but there is one thing I DO know --

It's the Valiant fans who will get screwed.

Has anybody put out a tell-all bio on Valiant/Acclaim yet? Holy crap, that company has a tortured history. And it was bad enough that Turok, Solar, and Magnus would be forever separated from the bunch for trademark reasons. Now the whole future of the rest of the line is in doubt.

I predict in the future the issue of rights and "breaking up" characters from companies will be more and more in the headlines. We've certainly seen it with Superboy, who DC can no longer use.

Perhaps in the future companies like DC & Marvel will periodically "sell off" characters to make a little extra scratch?

If so, give me Doc Samson. Just because.


  1. Doc Sa-*coughsplattergagdie*

  2. On a related topic, does anyone know how the rights to Red Sonja ended up with Dynamite? I know that Marvel allowed the Conan license to lapse and then Dark Horse negotiated a new license agreement with Paradox Entertainment (the current owners), but Red Sonja was a creation of Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith for the Conan comics in the 70s. Did copyright to her character also revert to the Conan title-holders with Conan and she was sold seperately, or did Marvel retain copyright and sell it off at some point?

  3. I wanna buy Deadman. Lots of unrealized potential there!

  4. I recently started following the blog regularly after a hiatus when I finished reading "Goodbye To Comics." Hey, I followed Rich Johnston's link, and took the title at it's face value. I couldn't help but weigh in after following your link...

    From my layman's perspective, VIP doesn't stand a chance.

    1) This isn't a case where you have one or two similiarly named properties coming out at the same time ("Plasmer," "Plasm.") VIP clearly made a rights grab on trademarks for a slew of series derived from one publisher while it was struggling through bankruptcy proceedings. Key word being "derived," as in "derivative," as in the intentional exploitation of copyrighted characters in the marketplace. Unless each individual trademark dispute is adjudicated seperately, I can't imagine that will go over well.

    2) Speaking of "Plasmer" vs. "Plasm," while Marvel's position on the matter was seven shades of dubious, Defiant's book was still published as "Warriors of Plasm." Valiant Entertainment has the money to put out full color hardcovers in the immediate future after paying just shy of a million dollars for legitimate rights. VIP threw out a black and white ashcan. Who do you think has the deeper pockets for an extended legal battle? They couldn't even afford spellcheck! Again, this smells like a rights grab at best, and a bit of legal extortion in hopes of settlement profits at worst.

    3) Regardless of what name material from VE's "Harbinger" and other collections is released under, the property has a built-in audience. Regardless of what name characters from VIP's ashcan are published under, their success pretty much stands or falls on an unproven commodity in a hostile marketplace. Moreso, in fact, because of potential buyers who resent the rights grab or perhaps hold disdain/disinterest in the original Valiant properties. Another good possibility is that VIP know they are fighting a losing battle, but expect publicity (even sympathy) through a short-lived connection to the old Valiant properties. A rose by any other name...

  5. About Red Sonja:

    The rights to the character "Red Sonya," a Robert E. Howard character that partially inspired the creation of "Red Sonja," are held by Paradox Entertainment, who owns most of Howard's properties. However, while Howard's estate did own the character of "Red Sonja" created by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith for Marvel, they sold those rights in 1982 to what became Red Sonja, LLC. This may help to explain why Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't plat Conan when he appeared in the heroine's movie adaptation. I used to own a one-shot comic by Thomas and Steve Lightle that came out of some micropublisher in the mid-to-late 90's and was approved by Red Sonja LLC.

    Here's where it gets complicated: Red Sonja LLC licenses the rights to reference the Hyborian Age characters and concepts from Paradox, but are still in the process of suing Paradox for a misleading press release stating they owned "Red Sonja" instead of "Red Sonya." Got all that?