Sunday, July 20, 2008

Snyder, Robin Snyder...Ditko Squad

Great excuse to show one of the most brilliant Ditko covers of all time

I'm going to throw this open because I'm being pestered by Robin Snyder who keeps asking me odd Ditko-related questions but never gets right to the point.

I think he overestimates me, and perhaps because he himself has worked with Steve Ditko assumes that I to would think it pretty normal to just, maybe, drop him a line. I have to say Robin, when Neil Gaiman is almost paralysed with fear at the prospect of talking with Mister Ditko, you underestimate the esteem in which the great man is held if you think it would be that easy for me. So to clear things up, no, I have not spoken to Steve Ditko; I cannot speak to Steve Ditko: if Steve Ditko spoke to me, my heart would stop.

The matter that Robin is so exercised about is the Mister A story that appeared in Witzend that I have put on the blog here. Robin is of the opinion that it is a copyright matter. And that is where our opinions differ. Robin appears to believe that showing the publication here is tantamount to publishing the thing, or republishing it. I disagree.

The original post here, is clearly a post about Wally Wood's publication Witzend. Wally Wood's Witzend, as one of the commentators on the post pointed out, is an important self-published publication, that many people have never seen and have no knowledge of. It was published 30 years ago by Wood himself. I have posted almost, but not quite, all of the publication on my blog, including the entire Mister A story (not the only one on the www, by the way), from that Witzend, for the purpose of study.

Several things strike me, the copyright vested in the work relates to the work Witzend, in its entirety, it does not relate to individual stories and great though the Ditko story is, it is simply part of this copy of Witzend. Another issue may have had no Mister A adventure, or 4 two-page stories, or a written story. If it was necessary to obtain copyright, and I don't believe it is, the copyright would only need to be obtained from Wally Wood or his surviving representatives; not every contributor. Secondly, this is not the copy of Witzend in its entirety, it is part of the publication, so although all the pages of Mister A are on display, every page of the full publication is not. Thirdly, this is a little blog, and the piece is here for study under fair use and fourthly, if Steve Ditko asked me to move it; I'd probably do so anyway because I'm such a fanboy, the moment I recovered from shock.

As far as I'm concerned, the thing meets the criteria of fair-use, and it is clearly on a blog where the practise of cartooning and the study of that craft is discussed and debated. I might be wrong, so I'm going to switch off the little button that allows me to stop you lot from telling me what you think (the nerve). If you have a view let me know.


Gerry said...

Rod- I think if your intent was to sell reproductions of this art to profit yourself that would cross the copyright line. I *think* this falls under fair use, as the work is fairly obscure and deserves to be seen by a wider audience.
That's just my opinion though.

Rod McKie said...

Hey Skarab, I have no idea why Robin Snyder's panties are in a bunch about this, as I pointed out I love the Ditko pages, but they are not what the post is all about, the post is about Witzend. It was Wally Wood who went to the trouble of putting it all together and a narrow focus on Ditko's input is missing the point altogether.

Perhaps Robin Synder has some other agenda.

Anyway, I don't understand why I had to okay the comments - maybe that has put RS off, I'll try to find out why everyone can't post freely.

Bhob said...

Where do Snyder's comments appear? Rod, note that my story "The Rejects" appears in my book Against the Grain where it is covered by not one but two copyrights.

Rod McKie said...

I'm waiting on him posting here, so far he has been emailing me.

His objection seems to be that the story is complete, and he has quoted a piece of copyright law that is really intended to cover and protect an entire book - such as Against the Grain. I mean, a review that used every single page of a 120 page book, including the covers would clearly not be a review, but you can't argue that down to any size publication or you couldn't reproduce a poster.

I'm not mental about keeping it there as a point of principle or anything, I'd lob off a couple of pages no problem, but I can't see what Robin Snyder is getting at. which is why I'm leaving the posts open for him to say.

I mean, I checked to see who had highlighted the page and the technocrati link lead to an art community who were knocked out by The Rejects (that character minus the bunny ears could be Bone) and not so interested in Mister A.

Another was interested in Witzend's role in the mini-comics universe, which is interesting, given its size; but I know where they were coming from.

Me, I'm looking at work like Bone and at some Manga and at the Bizarro anthologies and The Rejects looks and reads like it could slot into any publication today. It's a brilliant piece of work.

Bill Pearson said...

Rod, If your intent was to describe Witzend, you could have reproduced a page or two from every story in an issue, which is acceptable as a provision of the copyright laws, but not entire stories which were copyrighted by the individual creators.
That's piracy, which is about as bad as forgery, which I see from another post you disapprove.
Maybe you don't intend to publish these stories elsewhere, but others might, and if challenged, claim your publication of them on your blog put them in public domain.
I accept your explanation of your understanding of Fair Use, and that you had no devious intention, but please don't do it again.
Thank you for your complimentary comments about Steve Ditko, Wallace Wood and Witzend.
Bill Pearson, publisher of Witzend

Bhob said...

"fairly obscure": I can't see whether something is obscure or not has anything to do with "fair use" or copyrights.

"others might": Yes, this is how erosion of copyright happens. As I recall, a chap who put up a Betty Boop site over a decade ago was surprised when he heard from King Features' lawyer. Sad and frustrated, he explained to his readers that he couldn't understand why they were asking him to cease and desist. Didn't they understand that he loved Betty Boop?

Bhob @ Potrzebie

Rod McKie said...

That makes it clear enough Bill, I certainly wouldn't want to be cited as the person who placed the publication in the Public Domain, that would horrify me. I had no idea that could be argued.


I don't think Skarab meant that any 'fairly obscure' work is fair game and copyright can be ignored -I think, bearing in mind he knows I'm based in the UK, he was getting at the relative obscurity to my handful of regular readers.

As far Witzend goes, I wanted anyone popping in to see what was, clearly, a very special publication as is, rather than pages of incomplete and bitty stories from several issues,
but, if Bill's fears are well-founded, then I think it would be safer cutting the page count down.

Rod McKie said...

Bill, thank you for the kind words. I've cut the post down.

I have to say, it is my intention at some stage to blog on IPC's Power comics which published, largely, Marvel reprints. The Ditko Spiderman stories look marvelous and of course they are line drawings. For me, they symbolise the comic and Neil Gaiman waxes lyrical on those publications in the intro to Albion.

Now IPC will claim copyright on the entire comic, but they surely only bought the right to reproduce Spiderman in the UK on one rights basis and perhaps a second use in the POW! annual. But, at the same time, the text, the POW! comic, is an important artifact in the development of British comics and I'll be viewing it as a British text, and interpreting the law in that context.

My intention would be to reproduce the entire Spiderman episode from one issue of the comic, but not the entire comic.

I find it difficult to believe that this action would place Spiderman or POW! in the public domain, but I certainly wouldn't want the Marvel suits up my yazoo saying it might.