Monday, June 23, 2014

Warning: our IP thread is about to include some very geeky strands

The impetus is this lawsuit by the children of Jack Kirby who are trying to get a share of some of the revenue generated by the characters he helped create or created outright for Marvel/Disney (two companies that both built their early business models on public domain and, in some cases, not-so-public but poorly guarded intellectual properties). It's another telling if depressing story of just how far the regulatory capture of copyrights has gone.

To kick off the strand, those of you reading this in NYC might want to check out this new play about Kirby. The New York Times is impressed:

Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente, the husband-and-wife playwrights behind “King Kirby,” know the score. She wrote the smart Off Off Broadway shows “Cut” and the fangirl-friendly “Geek”; he was a co-author of the graphic novel “Cowboys & Aliens,” later adapted for a Hollywood sci-fi western. With this supple, informative and poignant portrait, they offer penetrating insight into the tirelessly prolific Kirby (1917-94), whose brawny and dynamic yet nuanced style dominated comics for more than 40 years. Their play (Kirby was known as the king) documents a creator who attained immortality even as his life ended amid a morass of corporate exploitation.
At a lean hour and a half, this production hits nary a speed bump, thanks to its fluid script and the director John Hurley’s assured pacing. Janie Bullard’s sound design and Olivia Harris’s set and lighting are unobtrusively effective, while Holly Rihn’s costumes nicely evoke changing times. The cast is uniformly on target, with Steven Rattazzi’s Kirby a sympathetic blend of street smarts, boyish creativity and a hard-working, over-trusting disposition.

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