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Normally, I use this space every week to link to some interesting/different/cool stuff about comics that your "regular" comics news sites have missed. Today, though, I am linking to just one page: the Federal Communication Commission's Contact Us page.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has put out a proposal that runs contrary to the opinions of the vast majority of... well, everybody and is phenomenally bad. The proposal is deceptively titled "Restoring Internet Freedom". If you read through it, you will see that it in fact does the exact opposite of what the title claims, and severely curtails the open internet we currently have today. Not only does it not help consumers, it actively harms them, removing many of the protections from large corporations that are already in place. There is nothing in Chairman Pai's proposal that helps anyone except internet service providers like Verizon, for whom he worked until recently, and Pai's justifications are based on patently false claims.

This proposal is an absolutely travesty that serves no purpose but to line the corporate pockets of service providers. The vast majority of the tens of millions of formal public comments have been against the bill, and those that were for it seem to be largely fraudulent, as determined by New York Attorney General Eric Schneider, who Pai has been actively stonewalling throughout his investigation.

So I urge you to contact the FCC directly and let them know that Pai's proposal would be disastrous, and that everyone there should do whatever they can to shut it down. Pai is acting on behalf of service providers, actively working against you and me, the internet-using (and webcomic reading!) public. This needs to be stopped, and stopped quickly.

The Federal Communication Commission's Contact Us Page
The following article is by Frederic Hunter. It was sent out via the Christian Science Monitor Service, and this particular version was pulled from the January 6, 1974 edition of The Toledo Blade. It's a surprisingly respectful article for the time.

I'm bringing it up today because it looks at why nostalgia took hold of so many people back then in the hopes that it might offer some insights for the waves of nostalgia we see today. Manny Weltman offers this poignant, on-point analysis: "People are unhappy and depressed with the times we're living in. They want physical reminders of happier times."

Indeed, Mr. Weltman. Indeed!
Corey Blake recently noted over on Mastodon that Spawn #10 from 1993 is curiously absent from most of the reprint collections featuring issues on either side of that one. The 2005 trade paperback collection, for example, reprints Spawn #1-8 and #11-12, and the original trade collection from 1996 reprints Spawn #6-9 and #11. But the book is available on comiXology and the 2010 Origins collection. So what's the deal?

The issue, as you can see by the cover, features a crossover with Dave Sim's character Cerebus. The issue was, in fact, written by Sim. Sim had, even by then, been a long proponent of owning all of the intellectual property he created. I'm sure he saw a lot of potential in Todd McFarlane's still new venture, and didn't want to become shafted later on if the character took off and McFarlane was able to make money hand over fist on Sim's work, while he got paid a simple page rate. McFarlane no doubt was cognizant of that, as well, having co-founded Image one year earlier specifically because he saw Marvel make gobs of money off his Spider-Man work without compensating him (in his mind) fairly. So Sim almost undoubtedly had a stipulation in his contract with McFarlane that the work he did on Spawn #10 precluded any reprint rights.

My first thought -- and this is what I told Blake yesterday -- was that the original contract would have been written in 1993, well before digital comics were a going concern. They were barely even a thing at all back then! So it's entirely possible that the contract was written in such a way that digital reproductions would be permissible basically via a loophole in the language. One of the smartest things McFarlane ever did was hire some amazing lawyers when he started Image; much of his financial success comes from contracts that are incredibly favorable to him, much moreso than most other creators. While Spawn was no doubt a creative success, it was various licensing deals both in comics and in toys that allowed him to become a millionaire. So finding and exploiting a loophole such as one that I described would certainly be within the realm of possibility.

But I also did some additional research that leads me to think maybe this wasn't so shady a deal after all. The book on comiXology wasn't available until 2015. However, Spawn #10 had already been reprinted on paper in the hardcover Spawn: Origins book from 2010, the most recent Spawn reprint book to cover that period. More notably, the paperback versions that came out in 2009 did NOT have the critical issue included. Which leads me to think that McFarlane and Sim came to agree on a new contract sometime in late 2009, after the paperback collection had gone to press.

I suspect that McFarlane had been working on the Origins book for some time, and had contacted Sim about renegotiating their contract. I expect it irked McFarlane that an early issue had been effectively inaccessible to fans for over a decade when everything else was available. And I'm sure he got repeated complaints from fans as well. So he tried working with Sim, and the two ended up going back and forth longer than he anticipated and was forced to go to press without that one issue at first. But they had sorted things out by the time the hardcover version was ready to go to press.

All that said, in a letter Sim wrote to Erik Larsen, he noted, "I tend to be the same way about contributing wherever I can see a need and where I have an interest. I certainly didn’t make sure that I had a rock-solid contract with Howard Shum before volunteering to jam on an issue of Gun Fu and I never asked Todd if I was going to get paid for the issue of Spawn, let alone what I was going to get paid." That doesn't mean a contract wasn't in place -- in fact, I suspect McFarlane's lawyers would have insisted -- but it does call into question even the theory that Sim would hold up reprint rights for almost twenty years over a contract issue if he didn't have much interest in the contract in the first place!

So while I initially responded to Blake pretty confidently about that loophole thing, I've got more questions now than when I started thinking about this!
Here are this week's links to what I've had published recently...

Kleefeld on Comics: On Business: Do the Right Thing
http://ift.tt/2jn3i3A

Kleefeld on Comics: On History: The More Things Change...

Patreon: MTV Geek Classic: Kleefeld on Webcomics #46: The Mentorship Experiment https://t.co/geK7cq5sNS

Kleefeld on Comics: Weekly Comics Links
http://ift.tt/2zGxGMK

FreakSugar: Webcomics Wednesday: Mastodon?

Kleefeld on Comics: On -isms: Cone of Silence 2?

Patreon: MTV Geek Classic: Kleefeld on Webcomics #47: The Hourly Comic https://t.co/geK7cq5sNS

Kleefeld on Comics: On Strips: Li'l Abner, The TV Show
http://ift.tt/2zQzTDq


Al Capp's Li'l Abner was, as you probably know, very popular back in the day. Enough to spawn a movie in 1940 (which I wrote about here) and and a more widely known color version in 1959. There was even a 1952 TV show based on the Fearless Fosdick comic that appeared within the Li'l Abner comic itself. (I wrote about that here.)

What I just discovered, though, was that Li'l Abner continued to be popular enough that a TV show pilot was made in 1966. It was never picked up by any of the networks, but the pilot did evidently air once on NBC in 1967. To fill some otherwise dead air, I gather. It's phenomenally bad, even by 1960s' sitcom standards. What I liked about the 1940 version was that the costumes and makeup was done well enough that all of the characters were immediately recognizable, even if you only had a passing familiarity with the comic. This version, by contrast, takes more of a half-assed approach and only Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae seem to bear any resemblance to their comic strip counterparts.

In any event, here's about fifteen minutes (three 5-ish minute clips tied together) of painfully bad writing. The only real saving graces are being able to look at Jeannine Riley and/or a pre-Brady Bunch Robert Reed, depending on your preferences.

A couple years back, I responded to the then-recent allegations of Nathan Edmondson harassing women at conventions by saying that my platform here is open to anyone who would like to, anonymously or not, get word out about any harassment issues in comics they've had to deal with. I've never had anyone take me up on that offer, but in light of recent revelations, I'll put it out there again. As I wrote then...
To anyone out there reading this, I would like to offer my platform here as an outlet for speaking up against harassment in the comic industry. If you're concerned that using your own account to document your issues will result in harming your career, I can relay your story here anonymously. I don't work in the industry, nor do I have aspirations to, so I'm not concerned with what career bridges I might burn. As I stated earlier, I'm not even a journalist, so I don't feel the need to worry about keeping good relations with publishers so I can maintain some level of access to their news. My concern is equity. I want everyone to have the same opportunities based on their talents and skills, and I don't want anyone to feel slighted, much less threatened, because of of their gender/sexuality/race/disability.

This isn't a gossip site -- I don't think I could run one if I wanted to -- but I do want to call people out who treat others disrespectfully. Just because a creator is talented and/or popular gives them absolutely zero right to treat others in a degrading or demeaning manner. So if a creator harasses you (sexually or otherwise) and you're not comfortable having your name attached to complaints, feel free to contact me at sean@seankleefeld.com and I will do what I can to help get your story out there with whatever level of anonymity you desire.

If there are creators out there who are getting away with unacceptable behavior, they should be called out for it. I like to think I've displayed independence and integrity with my blog over the past several years, and I offer that along with this platform for anyone in comics who needs it.
The offer still stands. And it will continue to stand as long as I have a platform to leverage.