“Just Pay Ditko!” Part Eight : A Tale Of Two Kongas

Posted: August 12, 2013 in comics
Tags: , , , , ,

lonelyone

 

I can hear it already — “hey asshole, where’s the copyright stuff you promised for this post?”

It’s a perfectly fair question,  and all I can say is — I’m working on it. I have been given some intriguing leads to follow up on vis a vis the Charlton copyright situation that have resulted in still more questions, and some information on tangentially related issues that may or may not have any bearing  on my original questions, so how does this sound — I have some things are likely to keep me quite busy for the next few days, but when all that is cleared up, I’ll submit the next installment for this series, which absolutely will focus on these copyright issues, and that brief delay should afford the parties I’ve been in contact with a bit more time to address the questions I’ve put to them. If I still don;’ have some answers at that point, then I will, as discussed, just put the queries themselves out there as is in the hopes that legally-minded individuals might take notice and comment on ’em.

Sound like a plan? Okay, good.

And now I’ll quit talking to myself. Besides, the first copyright question I have will actually be in this post, which makes our focus today a rather nice segue (even, again, if I only say so myself) into those larger issues. So without further ado —

I’ve commented at length, particularly in part five of this series, on the forthcoming Yoe Books/IDW  hardcover reprint collection Ditko Monsters : Konga!, a companion book to the previously-released Ditko Monsters : Gorgo! book, which we reviewed on these virtual “pages” back in early June. There’s no doubt that it’s going to be a handsome piece of work, clocking in at  just over 300 pages, which I’m sure will be on extremely high-quality paper stock. I’ve expressed my concerns over publisher Craig Yoe’s previous apparent reticence to include any promotional material for Steve Ditko’s current creative efforts being published by Robin Snyder in his previous Ditko collections, but also noted that he’s rectified that situation with the forthcoming Konga book by way of a promotional plug for said work on the indicia page of this volume, a move which I endorse heartily and for which I’d like to take this opportunity, once again, to thank him.

But it should also be pointed out that, at least indirectly, Yoe’s Konga book exists in competition with similar material already in print from Ditko/Snyder, albeit in much less pretty, much less awe-inspiring form.

Ya see, ever since 1989, there’s been a modest collection of some Konga reprint work (issues 8, 11, 12, and 13, respectively) available from Ditko/Snyder called The Lonely One. It’s much less comprehensive, to be sure, than Yoe’s collection promises to be, has nowhere near the production values that book is certain to have, and yeah — it’s even in black and white. The one major advantage it has going in its favor, though, is that Steve Ditko directly benefits financially from its sale. If that interests you as much as I’m hoping it does, then please take a moment to visit this webpage for ordering information : http://ditko.blogspot.com/p/ditko-book-in-print.html .

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That being said, my main goal here today isn’t to dissuade you from picking up Ditko Monsters : Konga! in favor of The Lonely One. The idea has been muted on Rob Imes’ “Ditkomania” facebook group by certain interested parties that I’m perhaps being a bit too strident, too demanding, in my various posts on here, and while I don’t really agree with that very much for reasons I laid out last time around — most notably because Dark Horse, Yoe Books, and Fantagraphics, respectively, seem to have,  at the very least,  happily embraced my various suggestions for “paying” Steve Ditko and/or arrived at many of the same conclusions I have entirely of their own volition — I am sensitive to the negative connotations that would come by  creating a “bossy” or “demanding” online persona and if even one reader thinks I’m a bit of an asshole, it’s one more than I’d like — even if it might be unavoidable given the infinite multitude of human personalities out there.

I’ve remarked previously, as well, that I’m still undecided about whether or not I, personally, will be picking up Yoe’s Konga book, and that still remains the case. I’m definitely more inclined to do so given the positive steps Craig has taken in regards to using his platform to publicize the Ditko/Snyder work, his online promotion of their current Kickstarter campaign, etc. I think Craig’s been receptive to the concerns of some of us folks who have been encouraging him to do this sort of thing and that’s terrific. I hope he continues, and as I said, while my mind still isn’t made up about purchasing  his new collection, I appreciate the efforts he’s making very much and I’m far more likely to pick this new volume up than I was just a few short weeks ago.

So — where does that leave The Lonely One ? Well, while I’m not necessarily ready to enthusiastically endorse Ditko Monsters : Konga!, I really don’t feel much of an urge at this point to actively dissuade anyone from picking it up, either. You’re certain, at the very least, to get more than your money’s worth in terms of great Ditko material presented in a truly magnificent package, and since playing “armchair dictator” here has never been my intention, how about this — if your own individual conscience precludes you from picking up Yoe’s new collection, then by all means don’t. But if your own individual conscience doesn’t, in fact, preclude you from buying it, then by all means do. And if you’ve still got enough money left over to pick up The Lonely One, as well, then please consider doing so, since that’s cash right in Steve Ditko and Robin Snyder’s pockets — cash which will help them continue to publish their new projects.

Does that seem  fair? I hope so.

Now, as to that promised copyright question — maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the copyright to the Konga movie,  upon which the character in Joe Gill and Steve Ditko’s comics is based,  still in force? It’s my understanding that, unlike  the Gorgo film, which is clearly in the public domain, the rights to Konga as, at the very least, a cinematic property, are still in place. I noticed, upon urging from a couple of parties, while leafing through The Lonely One again, in between silently “ooh”ing and “aah”ing at the gorgeous art,  that the character of Konga is never explicitly mentioned or referred to by that name in the book, and I know that Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko are pretty meticulous about following copyright law to its absolute letter. Is it merely the case that the Konga copyright has been allowed to lapse in the years since The Lonely One‘s publication, and I’m just flat-out wrong about it still being the property of its (at least one-time) holder,  or are the comic rights a completely separate entity from the film rights? I don’t think Yoe Books and IDW would be reckless enough to put this out of they weren’t absolutely certain of its public domain status — I might have occasional qualms with how they’re doing things in general, but they’re clearly smart people — so is it, in fact, possible for a film’s —and by extension its title character’s — copyright to be an active and going concern while the rights to the comic adaptation of said film and the comic depiction of said title character have been allowed to lapse into PD status? That seems incongruous to me, but I’m assuming it must be the case since the new Konga book was solicited months ago now and there have been, at least to my knowledge, no legal hurdles of any sort  placed in its way.

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