Thursday, May 29, 2003

Comics and Controversy V

Johnny and Edgar Winters sued DC Comics for portraying them as "villainous, gnarly half-worm, half-human creatures with green tentacles sprouting from their chests" in a 1995 comic series. A decision is due from the California Supreme Court any day now.

Previously, St. Louis Blues hockey player Tony Twist sued Todd McFarlane for a Spawn character named the same -- and had an early court win overturned. Not too many issues ago, Wizard magazine highlighted some awesome long-lost celebrity comic cameos featuring folks such as the Saturday Night Live cast and David Letterman. And you don't see Dean Haspiel and Ivan Brunetti suing Bob Fingerman for their cameos in his recent book.

But the interesting thing about the Winters case is that they didn't sue for libel -- they challenged the commercial use of their public images. Now, I wonder if the Winters brothers are considered public figures, in which case, pleas for parody are much stronger legally. And it's arguable that the Winters brothers should have a pretty thick skin to albino jokes already. Because, really, what's next, suing Michael Moorcock for Elric of Melnibone?

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