Don’t act surprised when a comic book artist rips you off

admin-ajaxI read an interesting article on Bleeding Cool about the troubles people are having with comic book artist Jason Craig. He’s currently the artist for Dynamite’s Evil Ernie. Last year people commissioned him to do comic book character sketches. They paid Jason Craig upfront.

Jason Craig has personal problems

Because of a whole host of personal problems including a divorce, a broken neck, high blood pressure, a foster child with Cerebral Palsy, and a bunch of other awful things, Craig spent all the money and never did the sketches. I know all about this because Craig posted about it on a public message board.

Craig detailed all his personal problems on a public Internet message board. Many of the folks who paid him for sketches he never did took their problem to the same message board. One of the problems with ripping people off over the Internet is they tend to make a stink about it.

The person Craig seems to have the biggest problem with is a ripped-off customer by the name of “Kyle.”

Most commercial commission sketches are not legal

Personally, I don’t have much sympathy for anyone who sends money to an artist in exchange for a commissioned sketch of a trademarked comic book character. The artist, in most cases, doesn’t have a legal right to create commercial art based on the trademarked character. You’re essentially paying them to do something outside the law, to create something that is technically illegal.

If an artist is willing to accept hundreds of dollars to create something they’re not legally entitled to create, should it really be that big of a surprise when they fail to do what they were paid to do?

I don’t think so.

New York Comic Con blames overcrowding on counterfeit badges

New York Comic Con counterfeit badges
The New York Comic Con

ICv2 interviewed ReedPop Group Vice President Lance Fensterman about this year’s comic book convention in New York City, the 2012 New York Comic Con. One of the things discussed in the interview was the crowds.

Since the New York Comic Con’s first year, in 2006, the convention has been plagued with an overcrowding problem. People with pre-paid tickets are forced to stand outside in long lines, unable to enter the Javits Center. In years past, the overcrowding problem was caused by ReedPOP selling too many tickets. This year, this wasn’t the problem. Instead, the overcrowding was blamed on counterfeit badges.

Lance Fensterman told ICv2:

I was very comfortable with the number of tickets I allowed to be sold. I think we have some issues around counterfeiting of badges. We confiscated a lot of counterfeited badges, and I think there are probably more out there. That’s a function of selling out faster and earlier than we ever have that we have to address.

Do I think it was too crowded on Saturday and Sunday? Probably. Do I think that’s a function of paying customers? No I don’t.

You have to watch out for counterfeit comic book convention badges

Counterfeit badges? Really? It’s 2012 and tickets or badges with barcodes are the norm. Don’t badges for the New York Comic Con have barcodes? Buy a ticket to any major or even minor sporting event, whether you purchase it online or offline, and it’s going to have a barcode. The ticket-taker scans your ticket with their handheld reader when you enter. If the ticket is legit, you’re allowed to enter. It’s been this way for so long that I honestly can’t remember a time when it wasn’t.

If counterfeit badges were indeed a problem this year, I blame ReedPop Group for allowing it to happen. They evidently designed a badge system that was too easily duplicated. Who’s fault is that, the people who purchased the fake badges or the organization that designed them?

The more likely cause of overcrowding was that they simply sold too many badges. Like they’ve done before and they will probably do in the future.

It’s what they do.

San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Admiral Motti bust

Gentle Giant Ltd. had a number of exclusive items for sale at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con, a mega comic book pop-culture event wrapping things up later today. Of all the exclusives being offered, my favorite is the Admiral Motti bust. Darth Vader choked the Imperial Naval officer with The Force until Grand Moff Tarkin made him stop. It’s from the first Star Wars movie, not the forth in the series, but the actual first one that started it all.

It’s stuff like this bust that makes me want to someday go to the San Diego Comic-Con.

I checked out eBay and one person has it listed for a Buy it Now of $174.99, but it comes with free shipping. How nice of them. Other people are selling them for less money, but not by much. Evidently they only produced 1,200 of them and they come with an autograph of the actor that played Admiral Motti.

I don’t know what Gentle Giant was charging for the busts.

When it comes to comic books on eBay, buy low and sell high

comic books on eBayI recently sold a comic book on eBay. It was The Walking Dead #19 and it sold for over $230. The United States Postal Service damaged it during transit, but they paid the insurance claim in full, so I guess it all worked out. It did cause some unneeded stress, so I had been reluctant to list any others on eBay.

comic books on eBay
The Walking Dead #19

I’ve sold another one of my back issues of The Walking Dead on eBay. This one was issue #6 and it sold for $87. The ironic thing is that I started the bidding at $30 with a Buy it Now price of $80. As soon as someone bid the $30 minimum, the Buy it Now price became irrelevant. Silly eBay.

comic books on eBay
The Walking Dead #6

I’m not taking any chances when it comes to mailing this comic to the high bidder. I packed it with the complete understanding that it will be subjected to a massive amount of abuse at the hands of the various incompetent, overpaid USPS employees who manhandle the U.S. mail on a daily basis.

comic books on eBay
As I’ve said, I’m not taking any chances. The comic is being sent not in a bag with a backing board, but one of those plastic CD-type cases made especially for comic books.

I’ve got more copies of The Walking Dead that I’m planning on putting on eBay. The prices some of theme are going for is downright ridiculous. Issue #27, the first issue with The Governor, is going for around $120 on eBay. I paid less than the cover price of $3 for each issue I have. They’re all sitting bagged and boarded in long boxes in the garage. I’ll probably never read them again, but if I do, I’ll probably just read the trades like a civilized person.

Scott Lobdell talks about the sexplotation of Starfire in a teen comic book

Comic book writer Scott Lobdell answered questions posed to him by readers of Comic Vine, a comic book blog. One of the questions asked pertained to the handling of Starfire, an orange skinned space alien with some rather unique views about sex. From Comic Vine:

I think what HAS surprised me the most is the vulgar tone of the comments I’ve read. When I hear people calling Starfire a “slut” or a “whore” or a “sex toy” it makes me sick to my stomach, honestly. I don’t think a person (man or woman) gets to define someone else’s sexuality and certainly not in such derogatory and dismissive terms. The notion that people genuinely believe they are staking the moral high ground in what they believe is their defense of Kori, by using such dehumanizing language is otherworldly to me.

I don’t think anyone is calling Starfire, a fictitious comic book character from an alien world, a slut, a whore, or a sex toy. On the contrary, I think what they are saying is that she is being unnecessarily portrayed that way by Lobdell in a book about teenage superheroes.

There is a difference.

In the first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws, we see Starfire proposition a male team member she barely knows for promiscuous sex. She makes it quite clear that if he doesn’t have sex with her, she will just go ask a random stranger. As they leave to go to his room, she makes it crystal clear that love has nothing to do with what they are about to do.

Red Hood and the Outlaws is rated for teens. According the DC rating system, a book rated for teens is appropriate for readers age 12 and older and may contain mild violence, language and/or suggestive themes. I’m not sure how this book fits within this rating. This book is more than suggestive. It’s not alluding to promiscuous sex outside a committed relationship, it’s clearly portraying it.

In my opinion, asking an adult to understand Starfire and her views on sex, is asking too much. How is a 12-year supposed to read this book and understand Starfire and her views on sex?

After reading the first issue of this series, it’s clear to me that this book is not for me. The problem is, I honestly can’t figure out who the intended reader is.

Brian Bolland and his Chicago real estate lawyer

Brian Bolland

This morning I found yet another email from comic book artist Brian Bolland concerning the whole issue surrounding my blog post over two months ago about a sketch he did at the 2007 New York City Comic Con. The email basically contradicts everything he has said about this matter up until now. He is now saying that the before mentioned Chicago real estate lawyer is his lawyer – even though he said prior that he was not.
This is what he originally told me about the lawyer:

The guy you refer to is A lawyer (apparently a Chicago lawyer) but he is not MY lawyer. I’m not employing anyone. He’s a friend and a comic fan.

Brian Bolland
3 May 2007

That seemed pretty clear to me. The Chicago real estate lawyer who represented himself as Mr. Bolland’s lawyer not only to me but to my hosting provider was in fact not his lawyer. Mr. Bolland even made the word “my” in uppercase letters. I took that to mean he was super serious about it.

Evidently not.

In his most recent email to me, he now sings a very different tune. He says this:

Mr. Caira was duly authorized to represent me in this matter. Although he is not my regular attorney, in this case and for this specific circumstance, he was acting as my representative.

Brian Bolland
4 May 2007

That just reeks of lawyer speak. As though a Chicago real estate lawyer wrote those words and told Bolland to send them. He also went on to state IN CAPITAL LETTERS that he wanted the entire letter posted anywhere on my blog where I wrote about this whole mess. That’s something I’m just not willing to do. Much of the letter contains facts that I know to be false and untrue.

I don’t put stuff on my blog that I know isn’t true.

My patience has run out.

The truth is I wrote a negative comment about a piece of art that Brian Bolland was paid $150 to do. The man is a professional artist. He ought to be willing to accept just a little bit of negative criticism every once in a while. He certainly seems more than willing to receive praise and admiration. If an artist is willing to be praised, he ought to be willing to be criticized as well. Especially if he deserves it. Otherwise, said artist comes off looking like a thin skinned primadonna. He himself said that the art “was a pretty meagre drawing for the money.

He also admitted that he “shafted” the guy who commissioned the art. I’m then supposed to believe that I went too far when I wrote that he “ripped off” that same buyer? Not hardly.

I’m tired of getting lied to. Chicago real estate lawyer first told me that he was just a friend of Bolland’s and that Bollard didn’t ask him to do anything. He stated that he was not acting on Bolland’s direction. When I refused to post links to eight (8) images of better looking sketches Bolland did at the same 2007 New York City Comicon, he changed his story and claimed to be Bolland’s lawyer. He then sent me the secret confidential Cease & Desist letter that I supposedly cannot show anyone. He also sent an email to my hosting provider and demanded that my site be taken down.

Chicago real estate lawyer emailed my hosting provider and said:

It is critical that this site and the offending content be removed before my client is damaged and my privacy rights are violated any further.

The “privacy rights” he speaks of refers to things like his name, law office telephone number, and his law office fax machine number he out on the Cease & Desist letter. Chicago real estate lawyer also went on to say:

Being that this is content in violation of the law I am notifying you of this situation before it moves to formal litigation in order to give you an opportunity to shut the site down before further damage is done to the name and reputation of Mr. Bolland by these scurrilous accusations.

Scurrilous accusations? They like to contend that by stating that Mr. Bolland “ripped off” the fan by drawing the “meagre” looking (his own description) sketch, people would immediately jump to the conclusion that Brian Bolland is some kind of wanted criminal. Give me a break. They were merely looking for any kind of excuse to silence negative criticism.

He threatened to sue my hosting provider unless my website was shutdown. Chicago real estate lawyer claims to have never said this. I think he was under the impression that my hosting provider wasn’t going to share the email with me. If that’s the case, he was wrong.

So what does this all mean? Well, it means that if Chicago real estate lawyer was indeed representing Bolland in these matters, Bolland cannot make the claim that he did not try to get my website shut down. I was more then willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when he told me that Chicago real estate lawyer was not his lawyer and that he didn’t ask him to do any of this.

Why would Bolland change his position on this? Most likely to protect Chicago real estate lawyer. Evidently, Chicago real estate lawyer shows up at any comic book con in the United States that Bolland makes an appearance. He helps him by running the lines and managing the sketch list. He fetches food for him to eat and beverages for him to drink.

You know, actual lawyer-type stuff.

Yesterday a couple of people in the comment section of my blog brought up the idea that Chicago real estate lawyer could be in trouble with the Illinois State Bar for claiming to represent a client when in fact he doesn’t.

I’m fairly certain Chicago real estate lawyer read those comments.

Not that I planned on perusing any type of complaint against Chicago real estate lawyer with the Illinois State Bar. I’m not a snitch.