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Comics A.M. | Sherlock Holmes copyright case appealed to high court

by  in Comic News Comment
Comics A.M. | Sherlock Holmes copyright case appealed to high court

Legal | The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn a June decision by the Seventh Circuit affirming that the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published before Jan. 1, 1923, have entered the public domain. The estate had long insisted licensing fees be paid for the characters and story elements to be used in movies, television series and books, but author, editor and Holmes expert Leslie Klinger refused to fork over $5,000 for an anthology of new stories. In a series of legal defeats, the Doyle estate not only lost any claim to the stories but had to endure stinging public reprimands by Judge Richard Posner, who labeled the licensing fees as “a form of extortion” and praised Klinger for performing a “public service” by filing his lawsuit.

In its petition to the high court, the Doyle estate continues to cling to its argument (gleefully dismantled by Posner) that Holmes is a “complex” character that he was effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States; therefore, the entire body of work remains protected by copyright. Hoping to draw the interest of the justices, the estate points to a circuit split on the matter of extending copyright. The lawyers also repeat the unsuccessful argument that Klinger’s case shouldn’t have been heard until after his book was published. In June, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kegan refused to issue a stay to prevent the Holmes stories from officially entering the public domain. [TechDirt]

Creators | Stan Lee’s upcoming visit to San Antonio for Alamo City Comic Con provides an opportunity for several people, including Sean Howe, author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, to reflect on his iconic status. [Express News]

Creators | Alison Bechdel discusses winning a MacArthur “genius grant”: “It kicks me out of the league of just being an everyday schlub, which is kind of my shtick. What do I do now that I’ve succeeded? In the early ’80s, I started writing a comic strip about lesbians. I can’t think of a less likely career path in winning a MacArthur fellowship. Maybe being a bank robber. It was that outsiderness that drove me, and it’s a little unmooring to find myself an insider.” [Vulture]

Retailing | E.J. McLeavey-Fisher has documented the demise of his local comic shop, Comic Book Heaven, in Sunnyside, New York, in a video. Owner Joseph Leisner shut down the shop last year, saying, “The store’s not making any money and, besides, I’m as old as Methuselah.” Also, the kids these days are too busy texting and playing video games instead of collecting stamps and baseball cards, like in the olden days. [Sunnyside Post]

Retailers | Gaston Letelier of Meltdown Comics & Collectibles is among the small-business owners interviewed about a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles to $13.25. Although he used to pay for employee health insurance, he says the economic downturn forced him to stop offering coverage and cap wages at $10 an hour — a dollar above the state minimum. “I can’t do more,” he says. [Los Angeles Times]

Creators | Cartoonist Joe McCarty tried to get out of Milan, Missouri, several times, including a stint at art school in Chicago and another drawing cartoons for Disney, but he kept getting pulled back, and eventually he settled down and married the prettiest, smartest girl in town (that’s officially certified — she was the high school valedictorian and a beauty contest winner). At the age of 99, he is finally retiring as the weekly cartoonist for the Milan Standard, where, like other editorial cartoonists, he ruffled many feathers over the years. He also painted many murals; as one local comments, “everybody has seen him up on a ladder somewhere around town.” [Kansas City Star]

Creators | Lindsay Ishihiro talks about How Baby, the comic she started drawing when her baby was six months old and her husband returned to work: “He’d always encouraged me to start applying myself to drawing a serial webcomic, but until that point I just hadn’t connected with a story or even a subject. When it was just me and Kiyomi facing the day together, suddenly I was presented with a wealth of funny observations and no one to share them with as they happened. So, I started doing what came naturally to me: drawing them.” [BabyCenter]

Publishing | Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie is the guest on the Lets Talk Comics podcast. [Lets Talk Comics]

Conventions | Whit Taylor’s report on Small Press Expo includes an interview with organizer Warren Bernard and an account of the trip Bernard and a number of creators made to the Library of Congress to see their rare comics collection. [The Comics Journal]

Retailing | A Boy and His Tiger Comics has just opened in Macomb, Illinois; the name is a tribute to Calvin and Hobbes. Owners Johnny Coker and Brandon Thompson bought the business from the family of the late Paul Astrouski, who ran it as Journey Comics. “It was always known as kind of just the old comic shop in town,” Thompson said. “High school kids didn’t hardly come in. College kids didn’t hardly come in. We want to hit that.” Their first order of business: cleaning the place up, building shelves, and reorganizing it to make things easier to find. [The Western Courier]

Retailing | Alyssa Ramsfield surveys the local comic shops (including one that has mini-golf) in Thurston County, Washington, which includes the city of Olympia. [Thurston Talk]

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