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Tycho / on Sun, Apr 27 2003 at 8:19 am

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Read It Before They Take Legal Action

We’re thinking about a new running gag where we just get sued all the time and have to take the strip down.

Truth be told, this one is probably safe to post in ways the Strawberry Shortcake strip was not - unless Nazis sue us too, in which case, I will declare the world and my life subjects which are beyond parody.  Though it goes counter to what myself and many people believe about the protected nature of speech in America, were we to actually go to court over the previous comic, there is no guarantee of victory.  It’s not very clear cut, legally speaking.  Win or lose, though, there is a guarantee that it will take all of our time and money.  When it comes down to it, I would rather make comics and write my little newsposts than exhaust those energies grappling with a corporation that is large beyond imaginings.  Hopefully that is something we can agree on.

It is sort of a pain in the ass, though, which this strip revealed as we tried to write it.  So, can we even use the names of companies?  Well, clearly.  At least, I think.  But, what about the logo - is that fair game?  Maybe not.  I don’t actually know.  Also, I don’t want to run each strip by a lawyer to find out if we’re talking about some kind of legal conflict, where Gabe and I have to fight lawyers and also a lion in an crumbling ancient colosseum.  But it gets more problematic. 

Have you heard that old saw where somebody says that “children today recognize less than ten plants, but over a thousand corporate logos”?  Putting aside the fact the logos have the name of the company on them and plants typically don’t, you’re supposed to be just shocked by that plants/logos thing, and I’ve just never been able to muster the indignation over it.  Here’s where it starts to get tricky:  when I want to tell people where something is, I don’t tell them to look for the largest poplar, so it doesn’t matter if they can recognize its tulip-shaped leaves.  I tell them to turn right at the Texaco.  Or the Pizza Pipeline.  Or Jack In The Box.  They actually determine geography.  I actually can’t describe my surroundings without using these brands.       

I can hardly have thoughts without utilizing brands.  So, American McGee’s creative propensities amuse us.  What would happen if he turned his dark gaze on one of those sweet girls’ toys from the eighties, like Rainbow Brite or Sweet Secrets or My Little Pony?  No, I’ve got it:  Strawberry Shortcake.  Counting American McGee, a single train of thought requires no less than five products.  Look at Penny Arcade, for Christ’s sake.  I can’t even express concepts without leveraging some organization’s coveted intellectual property.  In the case of the now infamous strip, it wouldn’t have made sense to use anything but a commonly known product.  So now that these Goddamn characters and concepts and products are completely intrinsic to our language and thought processes, they are, in fact, inextricable, they can effectively police speech.  I’m not even trying to make a value judgement about that.  I’m simply amazed by it.

(CW)TB out.

long ago, man


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