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Tony's Online Tips
Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Friday, April 6, 2007

League of Champions

After Tuesday's TOT on Rick Olney, the Ellison/Groth lawsuit, and the Soma/Brownstein Incident, I figured I could get through the rest of the week without being the least bit controversial. Looks like my math was off.

Dennis Mallonee, the owner and operator of Heroic Publishing, home of such spiffy titles as Anthem, Flare, and Liberty Girl, is hoping not to have to sue another publisher for which both he and I have a great deal of affection. Here's the note he sent me earlier this week:

Here's background info on this, just the facts stripped of any value judgement:

Marvel's publication of its Champions comic book from the mid- 1970's began in 1975 and ceased in 1978. Marvel did seek and was granted registration of the trademark it was using for that title. That registration, however, was not granted until several months after the title had ceased publication.

In the mid-1980s, on the basis of that registration, Marvel contested registration of the mark Hero Games was using at that time for its Champions role-playing game. The trademark board took notice of Marvel's abandonment of their earlier mark, and canceled that registration.

In the mid-'90s, although Marvel had never resumed publication of their Champions comic book, Marvel tried again to register their mark. Once again, their mark was declared abandoned.

Heroic Publishing, on the other hand, has since mid-1987 been using CHAMPIONS as a trademark in connection with Heroic's small line of superhero comic books, and fully intends to continue to use it. Having resumed publication of their Champions comic book in 2005, Heroic Publishing filed for registration in May of 2006. The patent and trademark office agreed that Heroic's claim to that mark was both legitimate and eligible for registration. The mark was published for opposition. No opposition was received. Accordingly, Heroic's CHAMPIONS trademark has been registered.

Champions Classic

Marvel is not unaware of the existence of Heroic Publishing's CHAMPIONS trademark. Late last year, when Marvel published a trade paperback collection of stories from their Champions series from the mid-70's, Heroic sent Marvel's legal office a letter advising them that their use of the term CHAMPIONS as a trademark for a comic-book-related product constituted an infringement on Heroic Publishing's existing trademark, and asking them to cease that infringement.

With Marvel's announcement of their own new Champions series, this now becomes a most curious thing. Marvel could have chosen to offer opposition to the registration of Heroic Publishing's trademark. Marvel chose not to offer opposition. Instead, Marvel has announced publication of a comic book title that, in light of the advisory sent to them last year, may well constitute a willful and deliberate infringement on Heroic Publishing's registered trademark.

Heroic Publishing's hope is that Marvel will begin acting in good faith, reconsider what they're doing, and come to some amicable agreement that will resolve this matter to the benefit of both parties.

I'm neither a reporter nor an attorney. I have not sought out Marvel representatives for their comments on this matter, though I would be happy to allow them the same forum I have given Mallonee. As far as the legal question raised, it looks to me like Mallonee has a rightful claim to the trademark.

I'm also not a mediator in the sense that I will or would ever act as a deal broker in such a matter. However, in my role as the writer of this column, I do have some comments:

Mallonee is a straight-shooter. Marvel has always fulfilled its obligations to me, sending me royalty checks on a timely basis when it reprints my old stories. I hate to see two of my "friends" in opposition.

So I urge Marvel to work out a reasonable deal with Mallonee. Maybe Marvel could lease a limited use of the Champions title from Heroic Publishing. Unless I'm misreading him, Dennis isn't looking for a big score here. He just wants his legally granted trademark respected and to publish his small line of comic books. Marvel has crazy-mad resources. I know Dennis is a reasonable guy and I hope whoever makes these kinds of calls at Marvel is equally reasonable. There has to be some sort of deal to be made here and, in the name of simple fairness if nothing else, it should be made.

That's my position and pretty much covers anything I have to say at this juncture. If there are further developments that don't violate any agreements between Heroic and Marvel, I'll share them with you in a future TOT.

******

COMICS IN THE COMICS

You know the drill. We start with Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers' Crankshaft from yesterday:

Crankshaft

I suspect there'll be some follow-ups to this strip and we'll share those with you as well.

Cartoonist Frank Page seems to love "Comics in the Comics" as much as I do. Maybe we should make his Bob the Squirrel a regular feature here. In the meantime, here's his strip from March 4, 2007, two days ago:

Bob the Squirrel

Going back into the CITC archives, here's a Triple Take by Todd Clark and Scott Nickel from May 21, 2006:

Triple Take

Our one more for the road today is John Deering's Strange Brew panel from May 22, 2006:

Strange Brew

Look for more "Comics in the Comics" in upcoming TOTs.

******

GET MORE TONY

Harlan Ellison Dream Corridor

Check out Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor: Volume Two [Dark Horse; $19.95] for a reprint of my adaptation of "Opposites Attract," a delightfully dark comedy that is one of my favorite HE stories. Working on this adaptation was one of the best and most satisfying experiences I've had in my 35 years in comics. The art by Rags Morales and the coloring by Marie Severin are swell. I'm thrilled to see it back in print.

"Opposites Attract" is far from the only reason to buy this book. There are ten other Harlan Ellison adaptations by some of the best writers, artists, colorists, and letterers in comics, including the classic "Rock God" by HE and Neal Adams, and a fragment of a story left unfinished by the late Curt Swan. There are a bunch of keen framing sequences by HE and Eric Shanower, and two prose stories by Ellison. That's a whole lot of bang for twenty bucks and it gets my highest recommendation.

Over at the Comics Buyer's Guide forums, "Tony's Other Online Tips" continues to post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Wednesday, I reviewed Fall of Cthulhu #1, and, today, I'm reviewing Keith Giffen's Tag: Cursed. You can read TOOT by heading over to:

www.cbgxtra.com

I do have pages at ComicSpace and MySpace. Now I haven't figured out exactly what to do with them, but I do visit them at least once a day.

If you want to be my friend on ComicSpace, you must have some background info on your page and not have any screaming profanity or vulgarity. I don't object to adult material, but I'm too old to giggle over rude and sophomoric expression. My ComicSpace page can be found at:

www.comicspace.com/tonyisabella

My MySpace standards are much the same with a few additional "conditions." For bands or musicians, I'm interested in adding them only if they have some connection to or interest in comics. I'm not interested in "webcam women" and I don't believe that you, a twenty-something and gorgeous woman, really wants to meet a 55-year-old married man like myself. Chalk it up to my low self-esteem.

On the other hand, I do love cosplayers of all kinds. I need more friends who wear costumes...and not just in my head. If you want to visit my MySpace page, go to:

www.myspace.com/tonyisabella

When there's more Tony to be gotten, I'll be here to tell you where to get it.

******

TONY POLLS

Little Man

Most every Tuesday, I post new "Tony Polls" for your balloting entertainment. Earlier this year, you were asked to vote on the annual Golden Raspberry Awards, or Razzies, (dis)honoring the worst in movies. Here's how you voted:

Of these nominees, which would you pick as the WORST EXCUSE FOR FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT?

Deck The Halls (Fox).....28.44%
Garfield 2: A Tail Of Two Kitties (Fox).....23.85%
RV (Sony/Columbia).....23.85%
Santa Clause 3 (Disney).....15.60%
The Shaggy Dog (Disney).....8.26%

WORST SCREENPLAY?

Little Man.....37.86%
Basic Instinct 2....29.13%
Bloodrayne.....13.59%
Lady In The Water.....10.68%
Wicker Man.....8.74%

WORST DIRECTOR?

Keenan Ivory Wayans (Little Man).....36.63%
Uwe Boll (Bloodrayne).....30.69%
Michael Caton-Jones (Basic Instinct 2).....17.82%
Ron Howard (The Da Vinci Code).....7.92%
M. Night Shyamalan (Lady In The Water).....6.93%

WORST PREQUEL OR SEQUEL?

Basic Instinct 2 (Sony/Columbia).....35.64%
Big Momma's House 2 (Fox).....22.77%
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (New Line)...17.82%
Garfield 2: A Tail Of Two Kitties (Warner Bros.)...12.87%
Santa Clause 3 (Disney)....10.89%

WORST REMAKE OR RIPOFF?

Pink Panther.....33.66%
Little Man.....31.68%
Poseidon.....11.88%
Wicker Man.....11.88%
The Shaggy Dog Story.....10.89%

WORST SCREEN COUPLE?

Shawn Wayans & EITHER Kerry Washington OR Marlon Wayans (Little Man).....43.48%
Sharon Stone's Lopsided Breasts (Basic Instinct 2)...28.26%
Hilary & Haylie Duff (Material Girls)....14.13%
Nicolas Cage & His Bear Suit (Wicker Man)....10.87%
Tim Allen & Martin Short (Santa Clause 3).....3.26%

WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS?

Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns).....30%
Jenny McCarthy (John Tucker Must Die).....22.22%
Kristin Chenoweth (Deck The Halls, Pink Panther and RV)...20%
Carmen Electra (Date Movie and Scary Movie 4).....15.56%
Michelle Rodriguez (Bloodrayne).....12.22%

WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR?

M. Night Shyamalan (Lady In The Water).....31.03%
Danny DeVito (Deck The Halls).....20.69%
David Thewlis (Basic Instinct 2 and The Omen).....18.39%
Ben Kingsley (Bloodrayne).....14.94%
Martin Short (Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause)...14.94%

WORST ACTRESS?

Jessica Simpson (Employee Of The Month).....44.32%
Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct 2).....21.59%
Hilary Duff & Haylie Duff (Material Girls).....14.77%
Lindsay Lohan (Just My Luck).....12.50%
Kristanna Loken (Bloodrayne).....6.82%

WORST ACTOR?

Marlon Wayans & Shawn Wayans (Little Man)...36.26%
Rob Schneider (The Benchwarmers and Little Man)...25.27%
Dan Whitney (Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector)...19.78%
Nicolas Cage (Wicker Man).....9.89%
Tim Allen (The Santa Clause 3, The Shaggy Dog, Zoom)...8.79%

WORST MOVIE

Little Man (Sony/Revolution).....55.43%
Basic Instinct 2 (Sony/Columbia).....23.91%
Bloodrayne (Romar Entertainment).....13.04%
Lady In The Water (Warner Bros.)....5.43%
Wicker Man (Warner Bros.).....2.17%

I lucked out last year. Of all the movies listed above, the only ones I saw were Superman Returns and Date Movie. So I didn't cast any votes this time around.

The biggest "winner" among the Tony Polls voters was LITTLE MAN with five awards, but who did the actual Golden Raspberries voters (dis)honor?

Here are those results...

Basic Instinct 2

Worst Excuse for Family Entertainment: RV
Worst Screenplay: BASIC INSTINCT 2
Worst Director: M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN
Worst Prequel or Sequel: BASIC INSTINCT 2
Worst Remake or Ripoff: LITTLE MAN
Worst Screen Couple: SHAWN WAYANS & EITHER KERRY WASHINGTON OR MARLON WAYANS
Worst Supporting Actress: CARMEN ELECTRA
Worst Supporting Actor: M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN
Worst Actress: SHARON STONE
Worst Actor: MARLON WAYANS & SHAWN WAYANS
Worst Movie: BASIC INSTINCT 2

In the actual Razzies, BASIC INSTINCT 2 narrowly beat Little Man by winning four Razzies to the Wayans Brothers' three. The Lady in the Water won two awards.

This week's "Tony Polls" ask you to vote on four categories of the National Cartoonist Society awards, which will be given out at the 61st Annual Reuben Awards Banquet in Orlando on May 26...and on two of the Hugo Awards, which will be given out at Nippon 2007, the 65th World Science Fiction Convention in Yokohama, Japan. You can cast your votes here:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

These questions will remain active until midnight on Monday, April 9, at which time they'll be replaced by brand-new questions. Tell your friends to vote while the voting's good.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back on April 9 with the first installment of my weekly "Marvel Mondays" series on the Marvel comic books of 1966.

Have a happy and safe Easter weekend.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/05/2007 | 04/06/2007 | 04/09/2007 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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THE "TONY" SCALE

Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

Tony
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TonyTony
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

TonyTonyTony
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

TonyTonyTonyTony
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.



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