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Marvel Comics Settles with Estate of Jack Kirby, and Includes Creators’ Credit

Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 08, 2014

Marvel ComicsAt the end of September, Marvel Comics announced a settlement of a long-standing copyright dispute with the estate of Jack Kirby, the comic book artist who co-created many iconic superheros, such as Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, and The Incredible Hulk. The settlement was announced a few days before Supreme Court Justices had scheduled a call that was due to discuss whether or not the high court would consider the case. Although the terms of the settlement have not been revealed, The Hollywood Reporter has reported that new issues of Marvel Comics now include a credit line, “Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby” on the back cover.

The settlement represents a tenuous victory for the Kirby estate. In 2009, after Disney reportedly paid $4 billion dollars to purchase Marvel, the Kirby estate issued copyright termination notices on 45 Marvel characters, as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976. The case bogged down in court, and seemed to be over for the Kirby estate in 2013, when the Second Court of Appeals determined that Kirby’s work was created under a work-for-hire agreement, and that Marvel is considered the statutory owner. The estate of Superman creators, Siegel and Shuster, suffered similar legal setbacks when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a 2001 agreement the estate signed with DC Comics was legally binding, negating an earlier ruling from 2008 which reverted copyrights to the estate.

The estates of both Jack Kirby, and of Siegel and Shuster filed a petition to have the Supreme Court overturn the lower court rulings. Their efforts gained traction when amicus briefs were filed by numerous copyright experts and pro-creator organizations, including the Graphic Artists Guild. On October 6, the Supreme Court refused to hear intervene in the copyright dispute, offering no explanation (which is typical in such decisions). While the settlement with the Kirby estate brings some comfort to creators, the lack of a Supreme Court hearing means there still in no clarification on the issues raised by the lower court rulings. As the University of Miami Law Review reported, “The Kirby brief concludes that the lower court’s overly broad interpretation of the “instance-and-expense” test will subject artists’ rights to “revisionist history” and will unjustly deprive them of their property rights by creating an “almost irrebutable presumption that any person who paid another to create a copyrightable work was the statutory ‘author’ under the work-for-hire doctrine. Assuming that someone paid these independent contractors during that time period, it seems that almost no one could benefit from the 1976 Copyright Act’s termination rights provision.”

Guild Member Discounts: WordPress A-Z Webinar Series and Blinkbid Invoicing Software

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 29, 2014

Two of our favorite partners, Joy of Code and Blinkbid, have extended new discount offers to Guild members.

WordPress A-Z Webinar SeriesBud Kraus of the Joy of Code has developed a four-part webinar series, WordPress A-Z, taking place October 16, 23, and 30, and November 6. The webinar series covers an overview of WordPress, building a site from start to finish, incorporating a blog, and finding and installing plugins and apps. Guild members are offered the course at a 25% discount, for $100 at the Early Bird rate (expires October 10).

Register for the webinar series online. (You will be asked to provide proof of Guild membership.)

BlinkBid logoBlinkbid produces easy-to-use estimating, production, and invoicing software targeted to creative professionals. Their latest update, Version 7, has added features such as redesigned production module, a discount field, and a Quickbooks export feature. Guild members get $50 of the cost off the purchase price.

To receive the discount code, log into Member Central on the Guild website (in the upper right corner), and visit our Member Discount page.

Exhaustion, Obsolescence, and Self-Worth

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 24, 2014

In May, designer Jason Santa Maria published an article speculating on what course his career (and life) would take should he ever stop designing websites. Considering the impressive trajectory of his career, the article was notable. Santa Maria is a Senior Designer at Vox Media, founded of Typedia and A Book Apart, formerly worked as creative director of An Event Apart and Typekit, served as an AIGA/NY vice president, authored On Web Typography, and currently teaches at SVA’s Interactive Design program. What would make an individual with such extraordinary experience question his future in his chosen field?

In “What’s Next,” Santa Maria explains that he’s preparing for the possibility that someday he won’t be able to (or interested in) continuing his career in web design: “I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think that there will be a time when I don’t want to, or can’t — due to fatigue or professional obsolescence — work in this industry anymore.” He worries that his own fascination with bygone skills, such as handset typography, and his drive to explore deeply into topics will leave him off-guard as technology progresses. He concludes by speculating that “[f]lexibility in work habits and in thinking, rather than languages and programs, might be our most useful skills.”

However, in a follow-up article, “Correspondence with an Ex-Designer,” Santa Maria reveals a deeper disquiet that lead to his soul searching. A reader named Ruth responded to his earlier article by describing her journey from designer to sheep farmer, reassuring him that “(w)hat’s next — all depends on you, what motivates you and what makes you happy — there will always be new challenges, but that is what life is all about...” In his response, Santa Maria spoke of his “exhaustion [that] comes from the industry often taking more from us than it gives” and his growing sense of disconnect. Again, he found that Ruth’s reply was on target: “Keep working on it — it is important to you, in your own personal development — that development is important — not the expectations of anyone else. Self-worth is so important.”

With the daunting external factors facing creatives — marketplace pressures, client expectations, the unceasing need to up one’s skills — the exchange between Santa Maria and Ruth is particularly reassuring. It highlights the commonality of professional burn-out, and provides some insight into the personal strength individuals can draw from. Here’s to hoping that Santa Maria continues to find his inspiration, and in doing so, share his story.

Photograph of Jason Santa Maria used with permission.

© Jason Saint Maria

For the Font- and Dog-Obsessed

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 22, 2014

© William Wegman

A fun diversion was published by William Wegman, the artist whose iconic portraits of his dogs Man Ray and Fay Ray brought the Weimaraner dog breed to new heights of popularity in the 1980s. In mid September, Wegman posted on Facebook a short video of his latest crew of Weimeraners patiently modeling letterforms. Up to four dogs stretch, nose to tail, and curl their lanky bodies to create the letterforms as Wegman recites the alphabet.

Wegman has a long history of featuring his dogs in videos. One of his first productions from 1975, Dog Duet, shows Man Ray and Fay Ray oddly staring about the studio space with great intensity. Only at the very end of the short film does Wegman reveal his trick: a tennis ball, moving about off camera, to the great interest of the dogs. An earlier film clip, Spelling Lesson (1973) has Wegman correcting Man Ray’s spelling. It’s an intriguing peek into the wonderful relationship between the artist and his muse.

 
 
Image © William Wegman

Chronicling the (Extra)Ordinary: Tiny PMS Match

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 18, 2014

© Inka MathewThe Pantone Matching System has gone from being an invaluable tool for designers to a cultural meme. The Pantone company is capitalizing on the public appetite for designer-chic by producing color-swatch themed goods, from iPhone cases, to mugs, stationery, and pencil cases. The creative community has taken inspiration from the iconic swatches, producing their own variations based on superheroes, skin tones, beer, chocolate, and food – both using food to create swatches, and matching food to swatches.

One inspired take on the Pantone system is cataloged in Tiny PMS Match, a blog created by designer Inka Mathew. For the past year, Mathew has been color matching objects from her daily life to Pantone swatches. Since the objects need to fit within a Pantone swatch, they are tiny, nondescript items that ordinarily would be overlooked: seeds, buds, a Froot Loop, a worn toy fish. But as photographic subjects, framed by their swatches, they become imbued with beauty and mystery.

The blog archive also serves as a touching visual journal of everyday life. For example, her travels are chronicled in the swatches, as a French thimble, an English souvenir, and seashells make their appearance. Family life is revealed in a Barbie shoe, children’s vitamins, and a wedding ring. Even the changing seasons are reflected, as the buds of local flowers are replaced with blossoms, seed pods and autumn leaves. It’s a lovely meditation on the extraordinary beauty to be found in an ordinary life.

© Inka Mathew Tiny Pantone Match

Images © Inka Mathew. Used with permission.

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