Fantagraphics Defense Fund Announced

The Fantagraphics Defense Fund has been announced to aid the independent comic publisher that’s been sued by Harlan Ellison. (via)

There’s a good summation of events so far in the announcement, laying out the two disputed issues, linking to the court documents, and providing this statement of intent about the company:

Many of you reading this know who we are and what we stand for. You probably know that we have been vigorously defending 1st Amendment principles many years before there was a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund — which we also supported since its inception (and which now, ironically, has rejected our request for financial aid. The second, perhaps more telling, irony is that Harlan Ellison won the Fund’s 1998 Defender of Liberty Award!). You also know the artists we have published over the last 30 years and our commitment to those artists and to the art form. Without additional financial assistance, we will have to reconsider many of our commercially marginal books (approximately half of them); the money that would make those books possible will instead be spent on legal fees. We hope you are willing to help us.

You can help in several ways, whether buying one of their fine publications (I recommend Locas, Peanuts, or Popeye as a start), giving money directly, or watch for future auctions. They’re also interested in fund-raising ideas. I like the realistic tone of their pitch:

You can donate money to the Fantagraphics Defense Fund if you’re so inclined. This money will be deposited in a separate account and used exclusively to pay our lawyers. We know that there are hundreds of good causes to contribute to; we know that most of our readers are on a budget; we know you have your own problems; we know your life does not revolve around helping Fantagraphics; and we appreciate that you have probably bought our books in the past and will probably continue to buy those books that interest you. No pressure. But, if you have the money and want to support us, we will be deeply and sincerely appreciative of anything you would be willing to donate — from five bucks to, well, the sky’s the limit. A handful of big donations from the well-off would help us immensely. Small contributions, even letters of support, will boost our morale.

As expected, at Newsarama, some people see this announcement as an excuse to pile on either or both of the litigants. Here’s the lengthy case discussion thread at the TCJ message board, with another one for Groth’s latest response to Ellison.

13 Responses to “Fantagraphics Defense Fund Announced”

  1. Justin Says:

    I plan on purchasing Pogo, if finances line up I might donate as well, as I know Pogo’s collection is still a ways off.

  2. James Schee Says:

    I need to see where I left off on Peanuts, and may try Popeye.

  3. Barry Says:

    I don’t believe in donating money to a for-profit organization, but I did just place an order for one of the excellent Peanuts boxed sets and may order another next month.

  4. amy Says:

    Please read this. I didn’t make this up:
    Fantagraphics has plenty of money as well as legal insurance. Read this before you donate:

  5. Johanna Says:

    There is no proof that Fantagraphics has either of those things. The column you reference says they should, and other publishers do, but in the specific case, Meth’s speculations are surprisingly fact-free.

    What most jumps out at me: He says he called other publishers for background, but he never mentions calling Fantagraphics and asking them directly. Did he? Was his call refused? Or did he simply not bother? It’s a surprisingly obvious oversight not to even mention it, even if they wouldn’t talk to him.

    Based on the increasingly loony last paragraphs, I find myself wondering if he’s another one of those with a long-standing grudge against the company that he also neglects to mention? A quick Google shows that Meth praises Ellison and brags that Ellison “digs [him]”. That Meth has a history of being unwarrantedly rude to professionals and holds grudges for decades. And that in interviews he takes completely unrelated swipes at Fantagraphics, calling names.

    Not the guy I’d trust for unbiased reporting. Maybe he should have revealed some of that, hmm?

  6. amy Says:

    Meth only opines that they have insurance. He never said that he called them or didn’t call them.

    I don’t think his last paragraphs were at all loony; this was an opinion piece (it says that in the headline) and I think it’s clear that Meth has little if any respect for Groth.

    >That Meth has a history of being unwarrantedly rude to professionals and holds grudges for decades…Not the guy I’d trust for unbiased reporting.

  7. amy Says:

    I don’t mean to be posting mutiple times but my comments keep getting cut off (see above) so I’ll try with elipsis…Meth only opines that they have insurance. He never said that he called them or didn’t call them…I don’t think his last paragraphs were at all loony; this was an opinion piece (it says that in the headline) and I think it’s clear that Meth has little if any respect for Groth…As for “Meth being rude to professionals,” Meth is also a professional. Second, the only professional I read him having a problem with was Barry Windsor-Smith. He seems to be well liked by his fellow professionals. I just watched him chair the “Remembering Dave Cockrum” panel at NY ComicCon where he was joined by Paul Levitz, Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson and Joe Rubinstein. Paul made a point of telling a small group of us after the panel how much he thinks of Meth and what he’s done for neglected professionals like Dave Cockrum.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Meth only opines that they have insurance. He never said that he called them or didn’t call them.

    That’s my point. If he’s going to make such a big deal out of calling other publishers, basing most of his “case” on it, then he should have said whether or not he called Fantagraphics and what the result was. It’s a really obvious hole that calls the rest of his piece into question.

  9. Chad Anderson Says:

    I’m with Johanna on this one. Labelling something as opinion doesn’t excuse you from doing some basic reporting. Plus, Meth seems to blur the news/opinion lines right off the bat when he says: “Fact #1: It is highly unlikely that a company the size of Fantagraphics isn’t covered by a standard publishers insurance policy for lawsuits precisely like the one they now find themselves entangled in with author Harlan Ellison.” On what planet is that a fact? It’s a supposition.
    If this had been speculation on Meth’s personal blog, I don’t know that I’d have as much of a problem with it, but given that Meth is writing for a new comic Web site (albeit one that so far amounts to a healthy group blog), I’d think they might want to hold to some standards of journalism. Is there any editorial oversight at ComicMix? It’s a red flag, as Johanna notes, to call other publishers but not the one in question. Why beat around the bush? Just go to the source. (And I think it’s highly unlikely Meth called Fantagraphics; there’d be no reason not to mention such a call in the column, unless, of course, the answer he got didn’t fit his agenda.)

    I thought he raised an interesting issue, though, so I went ahead and e-mailed Dirk Deppey at Fantagraphics to ask if the company had insurance to cover any damages from the Ellison lawsuit, and he directed me to a link where Gary Groth addressed the issue. And I (partially) quote:

    “…our legal expenses are being paid for neither by an insurance company nor by a “secret financial angel.” There is no insurance company; there is no financial angel. We are paying –and have paid– all our legal expenses ourselves. Just to be entirely clear and incredibly redundant: We have to this date paid 100% of our legal expenses without any help from an insurance company or any “secret financial angel. …””

    Even if Meth didn’t believe Groth, at least mentioning this response (or the one he got from calling him up, if he’d done so) would have made for a much better column. He could’ve gone into why he didn’t believe Groth’s answer and tried to back that up. I still might’ve found his argument dubious, but maybe he would’ve convinced me. As it is, he’s only convinced me to view any of his future writings at ComicMix (or elsewhere) with a grain of salt.

    Also, worth noting: Deppey addresses the column in today’s Journalista. If I wasn’t Web-impaired, I’d give you a link, but I am Web stupid.

  10. Johanna Says:

    The link you mention; it’s under the Comic Industry section.

  11. amy Says:

    Meth wrote an opinion column. He did not write an investigative article nor a newspaper article. An opinion column does not necessitate contact with parties on both sides of the argument.

    Johanna–why are you defending a pornographer?

  12. Johanna Says:

    An opinion column that purports to be based on research still should be held to certain standards. You’re missing the point.

    And what’s wrong with pornography? I read some of it, I’ve reviewed some of it. That question tells me more about your biases than I think you know.

  13. Blog@Newsarama » Meth vs. Deppey. Fight! Says:

    […] to protect them against lawsuits like the current one, so beware of giving any money to their newly erected defense fund: Of course, the comic book industry sometimes functions outside of common sense and standard […]




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