Tag Archives: featured

Review: Low #1

Low01_CoverAIn the far distant future, the sun’s premature expansion has irradiated Earth, sending humanity to the lowest depths of the seas, hidden within radiation-shielded cities, while probes scour the universe for inhabitable worlds to relocate to. After tens of thousands of years, a single probe returns, crashing on Earth’s surface, a now-alien place no human has seen for many millennia.

Low #1, the new aquatic sci-fi adventure courtesy of writer Rick Remender and artist Greg Tocchini follows two teams from the last remaining cities undersea as they race to the most unexpected alien world of all—the surface of Earth.

Reading the description above, the series sounds really cool right? Well, even with an issue packed with solid 30 pages very little of the above is touched upon. There’s the sun expansion and water world, there’s looking for probes out in space, but the rest, not so much. Instead we get pirates and family heritage and an introduction to a lot of characters and an interesting world. But then there’s that description… that the comic didn’t quite deliver.

What was inside as far as story is pretty decent. There’s lots of tropes, and some are twisted around, which is nice to see done. But, I couldn’t help thing that the first issue might have been helped with a little decompression, which is something coming from me, since I usually hate that.

The art from Tocchini is interesting but, like the story it’s too muddled with two much to look at, and some things not clear enough visually. Some of it is beautiful though and like much of the book as a whole, I’m torn with some of it I really liked, and some of it being a let down.

The first issue almost tries to do too much on its own, but once the first arc lays out, I’m hoping things will be clearer and expect the whole to be stronger than the individual parts.

Story: Rick Remender Art: Greg Tocchini
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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San Diego Harbor Police Release Their Investigation Results Concerning the Injured Cosplayer

San Diego Harbor Police have released more news concerning the investigation of a cosplayer who wound up in the hospital with severe injuries early Sunday morning during San Diego Comic-Con. A plea was sent out to for attendees to send in any information they could to help piece together the puzzle as to what happened. Below is the full release from the department:

Incident Type: Arrest

Incident Date/Time: July 27, 2014 1:15 a.m.

Location: 333 W Harbor Dr.

Case #: 14-03122

Prepared by: Sergeant Todd Rakos

This press release is being issued because of the high volume of inquiries about this case.

The following information is updated from the press release issued on July 29, 2014.

BACKGROUND:

Shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday, July 27, 2014, a juvenile female was found with significant injuries in the pool area of a hotel at 333 West Harbor Drive in San Diego. The juvenile female had attended Comic Con earlier in the day and still had her costume on. She was transported to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.

In connection with the case, Harbor Police arrested a 29-year-old man early Sunday morning, July 27 at the hotel. He was booked into San Diego County Jail at 11:20 a.m. on charges of sexual contact with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The Harbor Police Investigations Unit has been investigating the incident, including the cause of the injuries to the victim.

INVESTIGATION RESULTS:

After the incident, Police began a thorough investigation of the facts, including a review of footage from multiple surveillance cameras, as well as the assistance of community members and Comic Con attendees who provided extensive information and sent photographs for review. The investigation concluded with a finding that the juvenile female’s injuries were not the result of a criminal assault, and were likely the result of a fall. Her injuries, and physical evidence at the scene, were consistent with a fall from the distance of approximately six feet.

This finding does not affect the charges against the 29-year-old male, which will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office. Because this case involves a minor, no further information will be released about this incident.

We wish the victim a speedy and full recovery.

…as well as the assistance of community members and Comic Con attendees who provided extensive information and sent photographs for review.

For everyone who has read our original article (over 600,000 of you), shared the original article (over 13,000 times), and for those that reached out to provide photos that helped in the investigation from the bottom of our hearts at this site, we thank you immensely.

Hopefully as this year’s “con season” wraps up, and next year’s begins, we as a community, and those who produce conventions, will think about ensuring the safety of attendees both on site, and after convention hours so that others aren’t hurt in any way.

If you’d like to wish the cosplayer well below (we won’t identify her due to age), you are welcome to. If you’d like to talk about “safety” at conventions, and ideas for improvement, you can do so as well in the comments. Any non-constructive comment will be deleted.

The Leftovers – “Gladys” – Review

Leftovers“But what a fool believes he sees
No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems to be
Is always better than nothing
And nothing at all keeps sending him…”
– “What A Fool Believes” – The Doobie Brothers

I apologize that this Review of Sunday’s episode of The Leftovers is a little late, but I wanted that first scene to marinate in everyone’s mind for a little before you commented below. I watch a lot of TV, which I’m sure quite a few of you know already, and there have been few scenes that have elicited the kind of reaction I had when I saw Gladys in those cringe-worthy first minutes. It was brutal to say the least and I have been anticipating what all of you thought about that scene and the episode as a whole.

I believe what happened to Gladys will reverberate throughout the remaining episodes of the season. It definitely added to the theory that the GR is being set-up as the series first ‘big-bad’. After watching the episode, I immediately tried to draw conclusions to who killed her and why? A few scenes stuck out to me as odd and if we piece them together I think we can come up with a plausible explanation of what is going on in Mapleton. Mind you, none of what transpired in this episode was in the book, so I don’t already know the answer to this; we are all in the same boat. In fact, the TV series now appears nothing like the book, except for the basic characters.

The first scene that I recalled was the first few seconds of the episode. Gladys and Patti sit across from each other and between them is Patti’s desk. They sat in silence, of course, staring at each other before exchanging a terse nod, as if they knew what would transpire and they had a prearranged agreement about something. I found this a little odd, but it makes me initially think that the GR and Gladys were in on the barbarous stoning that resulted in Gladys’s death. The GR would have much to gain from Gladys becoming a martyr of sorts. The second scene(s) that somewhat supports this theory is Patti taking Laurie to her ‘day off’ breakfast at Denny’s [1]. I think she was doing this to recruit Laurie to be the next martyr or possibly choose someone else for the spiritual position.

Something else I was thinking about is the mysterious character named Dean, who shoots stray dogs and has a perpetual supply of chewing tobacco in his mouth. If you noticed when Gladys was snatched up by the convenience store there were dogs barking in the distance. Since I associate everything relating to dogs to Dean, I think he was in on it along with that man walking his two dogs that came up to Kevin’s car and startled him awake. I know, I know, that is specious reasoning, but you all think Dean had something to with it too, right? He just happened to be in the woods at the time they were looking for Gladys – He is always chewing tobacco (much like the other GR Members always smoking) – and he is trying to become friends with the towns Chief of Police whose wife is a member of the GR.

There are so many cults popping up all over that the ATF changed it’s name to “Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives and Cults” – The ATFEC. And apparently they get raided to bring about their end according to Agent Kilaney (get it? ‘kill any’– no?…is that a stretch?…ok). So far, we have these cults: Holy Wayne, The Guilty Remnant, The Barefoot People (remember this is what Tom and Christine are pretending to be with the targets on their foreheads), Heaven’s Converts (this is the cult that was on the TV getting raided when Kevin woke up in the beginning of the episode – the compound was in Noma, FL where Agent Kilaney was), and Tomorrow’s Family. I suppose this is to blur the lines between religious and cult beliefs in our society. People will believe what they want to believe and everyone has their own agenda for believing. In a moment that expresses his belief system perfectly Reverend Matt says to Kevin, “Killing these people is pointless, they don’t care because they are already dead. What I want is to bring them back to life.”

At one point the Rev tells Kevin a story about Thomas the Disciple and Jesus. The meaning behind it is that it is easier to stay silent, then it is to speak truth. This is a comment on the GR and Gladys and their relationship with the town of Mapleton and it’s citizens. I imagine we will find out by the end of the season if it is easier to stay silent or speak truth. When taking in to account the whole episode, the message that comes across is ‘doubt’ and how it relates to ones religious beliefs. Doubt is a necessary element to any religion so faith has something to be compared to and springboard off. Patti says to Laurie, “Doubt is fire, and fire is going to burn you up until you are but ash.” Gladys, unfortunately, had doubts.

[1] – I don’t think it was actually Denny’s, but I thought it was funny, so I wrote ‘Denny’s’.

Thoughts and Discussion

- There was pretty good song selections in the episode. Here they are for those of you want to know:
“Kiss On My List” – Hall & Oates
“What A Fool Believes” – The Doobie Brothers
“Warrior” – Terry Divine-King & Winston Francis
“The Twins (Prague)” – Max Richter

- My other idea for the Tagline to this Review was “Officer Mustard Stain”.

- Did you notice…Gladys had 13 rocks thrown at her. The number 13 has a mostly negative connotation and is referenced quite a bit in religions.

- LOST Numbers – Gladys was supposed to be in morgue drawer 4. Officer Mustard Stain had 8 white dress shirts at the dry cleaners. The numbers in the time in Patti’s car both times add up to 16. Laurie woke up at ‘2:3”8′ and it has been 8 months since she spoke.

- Did Patti put feces in the bag she wrote ‘Neil’ on and leave it on someones porch?

- In case any one was wondering Gladys is a latin name that means ‘Sword’. I have no idea what that means so if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them.

- Did anyone else think that Dean (the dog shooting guy) looked like the man processing bodies at the ATFEC center at the end?

- Nora’s statement to Kevin at the dry cleaners is a comment on the SD and makes light of it – “They’ll turn up pnce you stop looking for them.” Which they did. This is now the second episode in a row and third so far where something just “vanished”.

- Did you notice…Jill’s room has a lot of interesting things on the walls. One thing I thought was interesting and worth mentioning was the poster for “Murder By Death”. It is the name of a band and also a movie. The movie is a comedy that revolves around a murder mystery whodunit.

Thank you for reading my Review! Please comment below so we can discuss the episode further. I would love to know what everyone thought about that cold open and the episode in general. It’s hard to believe this episode marked the halfway point for the season – only five episodes left! Have a great weekend everyone!

Interview: Dungeons & Dragons’ Past, Present, and Future with Mike Mearls

2While crowdsourcing game testing is a long tradition in gaming, Wizards of the Coast took that to the next level with their latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the classic roleplaying game. Attracting 175,000 for their D&D Next project, the company received feedback from the community about the next edition.

Recently, with work complete the company released not only a new starter set, but a free PDF that allows anyone to download the game and get playing, a forward thinking decision that should be praised, and something you tend to not see from large corporations. This all leads up to, and gets people ready for, the Tyranny of Dragons storyline event which begins on August 14th.

To celebrate this new era, we got a chance to chat with D&D Lead Designer Mike Mearls about the past, present, and future of Dungeons & Dragons!

Graphic Policy: Before we get to the new release, it’s probably best to go back to the beginning of the process. What was the RPG and gaming market like when the idea for a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons came up?

Mike Mearls: While fourth edition really worked for people who liked detailed combat in D&D, we know that play style does not appeal to everyone. On top of that, the RPG category as a whole was seeing a decline in the number of new people coming into the hobby. Overall, tabletop RPGs were in decline for the past five years.

GP: What actually prompted the idea of a revamp of the system?

MM: We felt that we had to build a version of D&D that could cater to a wider audience. On one hand, veteran players like detailed character options and the ability to change the game to cater to their taste. On the other, the game had to have an easy to learn, central starting point for new players. Those two factors drove the idea of revamping the system.

GP: For the new edition you went the crowd sourcing route, and opened up playtesting to the world, attracting 175,000 playtesters. Where did the idea to go that route come from?

MM: In reviewing how third and fourth edition had been designed, we saw a real gap in understanding what people actually did with D&D. There were assumptions and conventional wisdom built into the game. That led to the idea of doing an open public playtest with rigorous, thorough data collection and documentation. We felt working directly with the D&D community would provide the most accurate picture of what people were looking for.

1GP: Was that also the seed that would lead your decision to releasing the basic rules as a free PDF?

MM: Definitely. The basic rules are both a way to say thanks to everyone who put in the time to playtest the game, and a way we can remove the rules as a barrier to entry to playing the game. D&D is memorable when you get a chance to play it, and nothing beats free and digital for making the first step into a game as easy as possible for new players.

GP: The D&D Next playtest seems like a success, so much so that you’re going to continue to use the feedback loop for new products. What exactly do you have planned for that?

MM: We can’t cite details yet, but we have a limited number of issues we want to address via an open test. That will have to wait for 2015, though.

GP: You’ve released the basic rules as a free PDF, and have mentioned that you have a goal to expand the market. How are you doing that with the PDF?

MM: The great thing about the D&D Basic Rules is that it makes it easy for anyone to check out D&D. If you read about it in The New Yorker or at CNN.com, you can Google D&D and have the game in your hands in a matter of moments. Capitalizing on that initial moment of discovery is huge.

GP: With the advent of technology, gaming is no longer restricted to a room, as many folks are using Skype, or Google Hangouts to host roleplaying sessions. Did that factor in to the game play, and any plans on using that to help “spread the word?”

MM: It factored into the design in the sense that we wanted the game to be very flexible. Since we can’t predict where technology might go in the next few years, it was important to create a game that depended on as few physical components as possible. That lowered the barrier to entry, drove home what makes D&D unique (how many times have you heard it described as a board game that doesn’t use a board?), and brought imagination to the forefront.

Online gaming is definitely an area of growth, and we’re looking into what we can do to enable that.

wallpaper_Illo 2GP: Other than the PDF, you’re embracing digital with a project codenamed “Morningstar.” Can you give us any info on that? Maybe when we can expect an announcement or release?

MM: Sorry, no news on that front yet. We’re really excited about the digital tools they’re working on. I have them loaded on my work iPad, and they’re really easy to use. The entire Trapdoor team is putting tons of work into getting everything right, and I know that they are running a beta test of the tools right now.

GP: Beyond just the game, the D&D brand has to be on your minds. Wizkids is releasing figures as a tie-in. There’s the long talked about movie reboot. What else can we expect?

MM: We’re really looking at ways to make D&D something that you can engage with beyond the gaming table. Tabletop RPGs are awesome, but you can’t play them by yourself, or without a group, and so on. We’re partnering with companies like Wizkids and Gale Force 9 to produce tabletop accessories, but we’re also working on some digital projects that I can’t detail yet. But, the key is we’re looking at how people game these days and working to ensure that you can experience the stories of D&D however you like.

GP: For recent releases, there’s been synergistic releases in comics, books, video games, and more. Can we expect that to continue?

MM: Yes, definitely. The Tyranny of Dragons story line is a great example of this, with the TRPG featuring it as the debut campaign, the Neverwinter MMO using it to fuel their next couple of expansions, and both Gale Force 9 and Wizkids dipping into it to produce miniatures, tabletop games, and game accessories, and a new comic series launching with a Tyranny of Dragons story from IDW.

By focusing on the story, we make it much easier for D&D players to move between different categories. Even better, it means we do our story work early enough to let our partners work in a much more coordinated manner. The Wizkids miniatures match up to the Tyranny of Dragons campaign produced by Kobold Press, as do the Gale Force 9 accessories.

GP: Overall, there seems to be a resurgence of board games, and roleplaying games in recent years. What do you think is fueling that?

MM: I think that face-to-face gaming is a natural next step for many video game players. When you look at the explosive growth of PAX, ComicCon, and so forth, you see that people really like getting together and socializing. Games are a great way to do that. RPGs are some of the best face to face games around. They encourage creativity and bring people together in a really unique, compelling way.

In many ways, the Internet is an awesome tool for discovering and building communities of like-minded gamers and fans, but at the end of the day people still want to get together. Before the Internet, you had to rely on random luck to find other D&D players. These days, it’s so much easier to find like-minded people.

GP: Any hints what we can expect at Gen Con?

MM: We have a lot of fun stuff planned. The Tyranny of Dragons story line kicks off in the Adventurers League, the official D&D organized play program. We’re running plenty of games and a big event on Saturday night to launch things. We’ll have special panels on creating characters and getting started with fifth edition and all sorts of surprises.

The real highlight is on Friday night, when we take over the Georgia Street Pavilion right outside the convention center for a big street party to officially kick off the Tyranny of Dragons campaign. There’s going to be mystery, intrigue, food, drink, and maybe a dragon or five.

GP: D&D has been kept alive and seeing its next step guided by the fans. What have they meant to Dungeons & Dragons through the years?

MM: D&D isn’t a game. It’s a culture. Without people playing the game, spreading it, and keeping it vital, we’d have nothing. Unlike many other games, D&D is uniquely social. It can vary from hilarious to tense to tragic in a heartbeat. I think it’s unique in its ability to bring people together. When you think about it, every D&D session is unique. Each session is shaped by the vagaries of die rolls and the creativity that people bring together. Add in the DM’s ability to make anything happen, and you have a game that’s still going strong after 40 years.

Without the fans, and the great stories they tell around the table, the game would’ve faded away decades ago.

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SDCC 2014: A publisher’s perspective from Action Lab

Another San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone, and with that the postmortem, good and bad is being written and discussed. Comic publisher Action Lab Entertainment took to their Facebook page to discuss their experience at the convention and thoughts about the show in general.

Below is their full post unedited (and after you read it you should head to their site to support them with a purchase or two or three):

Comic Con International 2014: A publisher’s perspective

Another Comic-Con International has come and gone, and just as with the previous seven shows that I have attended, this year’s version both thrilled and horrified me. Most of us in the comic book industry already have heard ad nauseum arguments about how Comic-Con is no longer a “comic” con. The big studios have taken over the show, and comic publishers, dealers, and fans have become much less important in the grand scheme of the show. Attendees are there to sit on panels, catch a glimpse of celebrities, show off their costumes, people watch, and, if they are lucky, pick up an exclusive or three that they can flip on eBay. The crowds are huge, the space is difficult to broker, and everything is incredibly expensive. Because much of this has been discussed previously by people more qualified than I am, I am not going to focus on that. Instead, I want to look at it at the micro level, from the perspective of the smaller comic book publisher.

For those of you who don’t know, as the President of Action Lab Entertainment, my primary functions at the show each year are to maintain our booth, sell our products, and (hopefully) network in hopes of developing new relationships, brokering new deals, and finding new talent. This is my third year at SDCC with Action Lab after five years manning the booth with Ape Entertainment.

I feel fairly safe in saying that, for most publishers of Action Lab’s relative size, Comic-Con is not a “sales” show. That is, you can’t expect to generate a profit at this show. A corner booth in the less-trafficked Independent Press Pavilion (the red carpeted area for those of you who have been there) runs about $3,300. This gets you a 10’ square space, two 8’ tables, and one outlet. A middle booth, with only one table, still runs $2,700. Adding my $600 airfare, five nights in a hotel at roughly $200 a night, food, shipping, and other miscellaneous expenses, you’re dropping about $6,000 to set up at this show. Granted, I shared in these expenses with others, but the point is still relevant.

And as a whole, business for us was decent. We moved quite a bit of product. We had exclusives. From simple observation, I’d say we were doing a hell of a lot better than many of the booths around us. But it is still a losing endeavor. But we understand this. As I mentioned, this isn’t a sales show. For people and companies like us, this is predominantly a marketing and networking event. And as a result, given the sheer size of Comic-Con, we could make the argument that we HAVE to be there. More on this momentarily.

Sure, some of the more recognized comics publishers like Boom, IDW, Marvel, Image, and the like have larger budgets, paid employees, and corporate backing that allows them to buy big spaces in prime locations, ship thousands of books, offer extensive exclusives, and get media coverage that smaller guys like us can only dream of. Comic-Con becomes a giant advertisement for them—advertisement that creates demand for their product.

Action Lab and similar publishers, on the other hand, have to claw for every nickel. We don’t have the name recognition, and have to earn it the hard way. Sure, those other guys were like us at one point, but times were a lot different back then, and creating your niche was a little easier (and less expensive). Competition for entertainment dollars has increased multifold, comics have become very expensive, and convention goers only have so much money to spend and so much time in which to spend it. And most of that money is not being spent on comics.

Comic retailers are feeling this heat as well. Chuck Rozanski, the owner of Mile High Comics, has gone on record saying that this very well could be his last Comic-Con. He simply does not make enough money to make the show viable. He mentioned that he can make twice the money at smaller shows with less overhead. Why? Because not only is he competing with every other comic book vendor on the floor, but also because he is competing with the publishers as well, who pull out all stops to make the quick buck at the convention. This doesn’t even mention the large percentage of people at the show who have no interest in purchasing comic books whatsoever. I am happy to say that we, as a publisher, have worked very positively with Mile High and other retailers. We offer them our exclusive covers at wholesale prices at the show. We offer to have our creators sign books at their show. We understand the relationship that exists between the retailer and the publisher, even at a convention like San Diego. While I am not here to laud Action Lab, the point is that everyone seems to be competing with everyone else at Comic-Con for limited dollars. Many retailers and dealers have decided to go elsewhere because it is no longer profitable. I don’t necessarily think this is the right thing to do. The comic book industry is small and incestuous. Market share is small enough that it behooves all of us to work together rather than begrudge everyone else.

But back to my earlier point. We HAVE to be at San Diego. Why? For one thing, not being at San Diego creates, at least on the surface, the belief that you aren’t a big enough player (and as such, not important enough) to compete in the comic book market. Simply being there sends the message that you DESERVE to be there. Second, it is a massive marketing and networking show. There are creators, distributors, digital vendors, agents, entertainment moguls, retailers, media, and other industry professionals there with whom a positive relationship can help you. If you are lucky enough to get selected for a panel (which we have been the last two years), you can show off your work to a captive audience and generate future interest, publicity, and hopefully business. What this ultimately means is that you have to write this show off as a business expense. It is advertising. It is publicity. It is the ability to touch a few thousand people in one fell swoop.

All of us who are a part of Action Lab are very proud of the product we are producing. We have an amazing array of talent producing some of the best comic books out there. The staff we have here are incredible in their own right, doing all they do for love rather than profit. We all still have day jobs. Most of us cover our own expenses at San Diego and other shows like it. But we endure. We endure in the hopes that the right people will discover us, and tell the industry what we already know about our product. Spending thousands of dollars at Comic Con maximizes our chances of this happening. And it will.

I invite all of my friends in the industry to share this and spread the word.

Review: Deep Gravity #1

deep gravity #1 coverHe didn’t get onto the most lucrative interstellar mission for the money—Paxon wants to be reunited with the woman he loves. But his high-stakes journey takes him to a savage world full of the galaxy’s most dangerous game, where the gravity can turn your bones to powder.

I’m much more of a sci-fi person than a fantasy person, so getting my hands on the start of a new series, I’m always a bit excited to see what it brings to the table. Deep Gravity #1 by Mike Richardson, Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko, with art by Fernando Baldó, is familiar, but there’s just enough that’s new and different to get me to want to come back for more.

The familiar part is an alien world that a company has gotten rights to mine/explore/grab resources from/etc. That’s been done many times before, and many times well. Here are the tiny details. As the title hints at, the gravity on this world is different, much greater than that of Earth. Add in radiation, and the amount of time someone can stay on the planet is limited. With a new crew coming on planet, and old crew leaving, you can see where its all going. Add in the relationship angle and there’s a lot that we’ve seen before in other stories. But, again, its the small details that matter here, and those are entertaining and new.

But how its put together is interesting. Much of the writing reminds me of Hardman and Bechko’s previous work, like their Planet of the Apes run. They have a certain style to what they bring to the page. That’s not good or bad, but if you’ve enjoyed their previous work, there’s familiarity here that’ll get you to probably enjoy this new series as well. The two plus Richardson, have dreamed up an interesting world that we learn about as the main character Paxon does. That leads to some exciting moments that catch him and us off guard. Going forward, that discovery will likely be the strength of the series.

Artist Fernando Baldó brings us a solid style. It’s not too flashy or fancy, and definitely doesn’t jump out to me, but it’s solid work with some nice design for the alien world and space ship. It gets the job done and there’s some nice touches.

Overall, while the first issue might seem familiar, and “been there,” there’s a lot new and some great potential going forward. I’m pretty sure I know what to expect next, but even so, if the rest is as entertaining as this first issue, we’ll have a solid sci-fi read to finish off the summer and take us into the fall.

Story: Mike Richardson, Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko Art: Fernando Baldó
Story: 8 Art: 7.75 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

SDCC 2014: SDCC Sends a Cease and Decist to SLCC

Saturday as folks were enjoying San Diego Comic-Con, a letter made its way through the press from Salt Lake Comic Con concerning a cease and desist letter they received from SDCC concerning their use of the word “Comic-Con.”  San Diego Comic-Con, or Comic-Con International as they’re going by now, trademarked the term in 2005.

comic-con trademarkHere’s a link to the letter SLCC received from SDCC’s law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. And here’s a copy of the press release that Salt Lake Comic Con sent out.

San Diego Comic-Con International vs. Salt Lake Comic Con 
 
- San Diego Comic-Con International sends cease and desist order siting intellectual property infringement for use of name of “Comic Con” -
 
SALT LAKE CITY, July 26, 2014 – On Friday, July 25, 2014 Salt Lake Comic Con (http://saltlakecomiccon.com/) organizers received a cease and desist order from San Diego Comic-Con International asserting that Salt Lake Comic Con cannot use the term “Comic Con” for any event, logo, trademark or website moving forward, further claiming ownership of all variations of the generic term “Comic Con.”
 
San Diego Comic-Con International is asserting intellectual property infringement for use of the name “Comic Con”, challenging hundreds of comic conventions around the country and the world already using the words comic con for their show.
 
To view a copy of the cease and desist order or to join Salt Lake Comic Con’s effort to protect Comic Con, click here.
 
Dan Farr Productions produces the Salt Lake Comic Con events.  The next Salt Lake Comic Con is scheduled for September 4-6, 2014 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.
 
“This cease and desist order is baseless and has been attempted before by this organization and has failed. Our primary concern is our fans and making sure we provide them with an event that allows them to meet, greet and get up close and personal with their favorite celebrities and pop culture icons,” said Dan Farr, Salt Lake Comic Con Founder and Show Producer.  “We’re puzzled why Salt Lake Comic Con was apparently singled out amongst the hundreds of Comic Cons around the country and the world. We intend to vigorously defend ourselves from this frivolous action.”
 
In one year, Salt Lake Comic Con has achieved record setting success.  The first Salt Lake Comic Con surpassed more than 72,000 fans.  In its second event called Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience (FanX) attendance exceeded more than 100,000 people making it the third largest Comic Con in the country. For Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 show organizers anticipate an even larger outpouring of fan support with expectations of more than 120,000 fans.
 
“San Diego Comic-Con International is threatening not only us, but all the other Comic Cons by trying to prohibit them from using the term for their events, “said Bryan Brandenburg, Salt Lake Comic Con Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer.   “San Diego Comic-Con attempted to trademark ‘Comic Con’ in 1995 and the application failed. Furthermore, precedence for the mark ‘Comic Con’ was set when Denver Comic Con received a trademark for their convention on November 26, 2013. Nobody owns the words ‘Comic Con’ (short for comic convention) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office has already ruled on this.”
 
To find out more information about Salt Lake Comic Con, the country’s third largest comic con, visit the Salt Lake Comic Con website.
 
ABOUT SALT LAKE COMIC CON:
Salt Lake Comic Con is organized by Dan Farr Productions in partnership with Media One of Utah, a joint operating agreement between the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, and ABC4/CW30 of the Nexstar Broadcasting Group. Dan Farr Productions is an event and marketing group devoted to organizing events, launching and acquiring new shows, and partnering with premium celebrities and brands in the pop culture arena. Dan Farr Productions is dedicated to producing spectacular celebrations of popular culture that lead the market in providing exceptional and rewarding experiences for our consumers, fans, celebrity guests, vendors and partners. Find out more at: www.SaltLakeComicCon.comwww.mediaoneutah.com,www.abc4.com/.

While I’m not a lawyer, I know quite a few individuals who are, and a few individuals who actually deal in trademark. Companies doing this sort of thing isn’t anything new. So, I decided to consult them as to what this all means and how much of a viable case San Diego Comic-Con has.

SDCC started in 1970, and since then dozens of other conventions using “Comic-Con” (or some variation) have sprung up. SDCC even isn’t the first “Comic-Con,” that belongs to the British Comic Art Convention which began in 1968, and does go by Comicon. That variation is important as you’ll see below. There is a strong case that the “Comic-Con” mark has been abandoned, as mark owners have a positive duty to defend the mark, or lose it.

SDCC’s complaint stems from SLCC supposedly sending a car to promote their show during San Diego Comic-Con 2014. Except, that didn’t happen. In an interview with The Outhousers, SLCC gives us the scoop:

There are “comic cons,” “comic-cons,” and “comiccons” all over the world every year. Why do you think Salt Lake Comic Con has been targeted in particular?

They found out we were bringing our wrapped car to San Diego and threatened us with legal action. We agreed not to bring it down and didn’t but they sent the letter anyway

We also had our 2nd event the same weekend as their Wonder Con and we had record attendance over 100,000 and they did poorly.

 

So, claims made in the letter to begin with are possibly false. But there’s the trademark claim itself. San Diego Comic-Con has sent “cease and desist” notices in the past, for example to Chicago Comic-Con, but those haven’t gone anywhere. So, they aren’t defending their trademark at all, and at a minimum not consistently. If you fail to enforce it, there’s legal consequences about how much you can defend it down the road, and what you’d get out of it if you do.

Next there’s the trademark granted. San Diego’s trademark is  for “Comic-Con” while Salt Lake uses “Comic Con.” It is a minor detail, but could be enough to distinguish the two uses in combination with the other context. If SDCC also claims the name without a hyphen, then they might also try to use other derivations including Comicon, which as we stated before was in use for a convention that proceeds SDCC by two years. Also, originally as filed, the term “Comic-Con” is a pretty narrow term to begin with, as it is not really unique . It is, at its heart, an abbreviation.

There’s also a chance that any decision if it were to go to court would grant the convention the use of the trademark in a geographic area, but not generally. Basically, San Diego to prevail would likely need to show actual damages from Salt Lake’s move. SDCC claims that SLCC promoted their show a the same time, both in person and online. Unfortunately for SDCC, so have many other conventions with the word “Comic-Con” in them. I’ve seen numerous online ads for instance during the same time period with that trademarked item included.

Salt Lake Comic Con has vowed they’re going to fight this, and they should, as from my understanding as well as the lawyer I consulted, San Diego’s claim is thin at best. But more importantly, this needs to be fought, because while SLCC might be the latest to be bullied, they won’t be the last.

SDCC 2014: Police Need Your Help Concerning a Cosplayer (Updated)

When a lot of the discussion before, during, and after San Diego Comic-Con has been about cosplay, harassment and consent, this drives home the point something needs to be done, and conventions need to take safety seriously. Tumblr blog Test Your Luck has the details.

One of my dearest friends was found on the side of the road, unconscious and bloody. She was wearing this cosplay on the day it happened. She was last seen with friends when she ran off after a disagreement. Please, please, please, if you have ANY information or saw her anywhere, contact her mother. The full information is down below. This isn’t okay and it’s sickening to know that this happened at a place people truly can enjoy themselves. Please spread the word.

”I just received a call from the San Diego Police Department and my daughter (redacted) aka (redacted) was found on the side of the road covered in blood with no ID unconscious. They are unsure what happened to her. My husband is on his way to the police station and then the hospital. If you have any information on what happened to her please send me a facebook message or call me at (redacted). Thank you in advance”. -(redacted)

This is a good time for the community to come together and pass along info if they have any information, even a photo of the girl helps put together a timeline.

I removed the number of the mother, instead please call the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154. – See third update below

Update: G33k HQ has reported that SDPD says the San Diego Harbor Police are handling it, which explains why they could neither confirm or deny it when we originally contacted them. We’ve reached out to the SDHPD for verification and further details.

Update 2: I’ve tracked down the parents Facebook pages. The pages do look legit, have lots of friends and been active for quite some time. They both mention this unfortunate incident. For those saying this is a “hoax,” I don’t believe it is.

Update 3: We received a press release from the San Diego Harbor Police:

2014-07-29_2140

Since the victim is a minor, her privacy and that of her family should be respected. I’ve removed photos of the victim, and links to any identifying info out of respect.

Update 4: We’ve received a new release from the San Diego Harbor Police concerning events.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

bodies #1 coverWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in! Below are ten suggestions of comics, graphic novels, or trade paperbacks you should spend some extra time checking out and think about picking up.

Pick of the Week: Bodies #1 (Vertigo) – A new Vertigo mini-series that follows four detectives over four different time periods. A centuries-spanning murder mystery like nothing you’ve ever seen before, with four sensational artists illustrating a six-page chapter in each issue. Sounds so interesting, sign us up!

Armor Hunters: Harbinger #1 (Valiant) – Valiant has one of the best universes out there, and their current Armor Hunters story has been fun action bringing the various corners together to battle one foe.

Caliban #5 (Avatar Press) – Garth Ennis does creepy sci-fi horror in this underrated and criminally overlooked series.

Chew: Warrior Chicken Poyo (Image Comics) – Have you read any of the previous issues of Chew with Agent Poyo? That alone merits this to make it on the list.

Deep Gravity #1 (Dark Horse) – A new sci-fi series that takes us to a new planet where gravity is greater and teams are rotated in and out over short stints. The first issues is solid setting things up for what looks like an interesting story.

Evil Empire #3 (BOOM! Studios) – It feels like a while since this last issue but Max Bemis’ series that looks at a crumbling America turning towards Libertarian anarchy is too fascinating a concept to not make the list.

Hawkeye #19 (Marvel) – This one has been a long time coming. The rumors say this series is running down, so we’re savoring every issue while we can.

Letter 44 Vol. 1: Escape Velocity (Oni Press) – If you missed the first issues, here’s your chance to catch up. A new President learns about why his predecessor ramped up wars, and the revelation changes his view of the world, his job, and the humanity as a whole. A great mix of science fiction and politics

Transformers: Robots in Disguise #31 (IDW Publishing) – IDW’s entire Transformers line has been fantastic giving us a new spin on the classic characters. The comics are focused on religion, and nation building, but with giant robots.

The Wake #10 (Vertigo) – Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s series wraps up! It’s been a hell of a run!

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