Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Protecting Your Digital Comic or eBook [UPDATES ADDED Q6, Q7, Q8)

Recently Jozef and I had been considering our Elf~Fin publishing options as the big 'pitching to publishers' phase is about to begin in 2009. We were speculating that we could bring it to market quicker if we were to digitally publish it page by page on a weekly basis rather than to wait until the entire first and second issues were ready (they run at 44 pages per issue). This is usually what a comic book publisher and a distributor such as Diamond would demand prior to going to solicitation and print. The downside to electronic publishing, however, is that we had no idea how to go about protecting our finished work or indeed what tools there were to accomplish this, as we did not want finished art pages to indiscriminately go out into cyperspace. Then, about two weeks ago, we got our answer when we stumbled across a software package that, in the first instance, is specifically geared to helping people create eBooks and make money by selling them online, but more importantly to us, offered the security protocols needed to give us some mental and emotional security about how to control our digital product. 

At this point in the blog post, we're going to be completely transparent and mention that we want to promote this product to you on a commercial basis as well as a practical basis, as we think it is particularly relevant to our readership – many of whom are comics creators, authors and illustrators. If you decide that this software suits your needs after reading about it, we're going to ask that you click through this site to get to the nitty gritty information on how it works and then to go onward to buy it so that we can get a percentage of the sale, which will in turn help us get our comic book series out to you faster. Having said that, we are also asking you to trust us – we will ONLY promote books and products such as this one that we are convinced will help you market and/or protect your IP in the various comics, ebooks or information products you choose to launch now or in the future.

The software package is called eBookpro. As mentioned before, it is geared to people who want to create and release electronic books. We were convinced about its authenticity after reading all the promotional material and asking a whole bunch of questions to the Director of Business Development of the company that developed and now distribute the software whom I met recently in Sydney and who I've emailed several times over the last fortnight. What is important in all of this is that this product can be adapted for use in comics. 

Here are the questions I posed to him from some of our professional colleagues in order to make sure the product was right for us at Black Mermaid™ as well as you.

1. I heard that the eBook Pro software has inbuilt protection so that if the ebook was distributed by a customer to a third-party in defiance of the purchasing agreeing and therefore be in breach of copyright then the originator of the ebook would be able to shut down that illegal copied file. Did I hear correctly and can you explain more?
Yes, you have the ability to choose how many times somebody can register your eBook. We default to two registrations in case somebody wants to put it on their laptop and computer. So then, let's say the customer sends it to a friend. The friend cannot register the book, therefore is unable to see it.

2. Can this software be applied to protect webcomics and/or comic book pages that are released digitally prior to print publication?
If you release them digitally through eBookpro then you are fine. Anything outside of eBook pro will not be secure. Even sending stuff to your publisher should be sent through eBookpro. You basically have complete control over who sees it.

3. Can your software apply to fiction product as well as non-fiction and information product?
Absolutely – any information that needs to be secure can be used with eBookpro.

4. Most creatives I know (including ourselves) use Macs. At the moment your promotional literature says that the "System Requirements are Windows 98SE, 2K, ME or XP" as well as Internet access. Will this software ever be available for Mac users?
Our Mac eBook Viewer is compatible on the following hardware: Intel or PowerPC processors. 
Operating System Requirements: OSX 10.4x or newer.
Keep in mind it will be your customer [who will be reading/viewing the eBook] ... you will need to understand if they have Macs or not.

5. You say that the finished ebook product can be viewed on Macs provided they are as you said "Intel or PowerPC processors with an OSX 10.4x or newer operating system". But can I, for example, load your eBook Pro software onto my MacBook which has a Max OSX operating system 10.4.11 and actually use it to create my eBook or eComic?
Curently eBook Pro Business edition is Windows compatible software, although eBook Pro does have the ability to create both Windows and Mac compatible ebooks. Since you are a Mac User, the best solution if you have a newer Intel CPU based Mac is to either use Bootcamp on OSX Leopard or Parallel or VMWare Fusion to run your Windows applications.
You can read more about Bootcamp here:
To read more information about Parallels Virtual Desktop software:
To read more information about VMWare Fusion software:

6. I won't be posting my graphic novel as an ebook, but as individual pages. Would this software protect that?
Absolutely. We have had engineers use the tool to send their work to other engineers or for proposals. They simply want to protect their intellectual property.  It can be one page or hundreds.

There is also a viral system in eBookpro; you can prompt all the people that download the page to send it to their network and when a new person wants to see the work (opens eBookpro), they have to give their name and email address to see anything. So you would be building your list through viral networking using the software. And at the bottom of every page you can prompt people to buy your print comic or series.

7. So can you load the finished artwork (it could be in Photoshop or it could be handpainted and scanned in) onto eBookpro and then upload it via eBookpro so that people all over the world can read it but not download and potentially steal it?

Absolutely, AND they can send it to their friends/network to build the list of potential customers!

8. I would be posting the page to a comics press blog. Is it like some kind of watermark?
The product will not watermark the image; this will have to be done separately [OUR NOTES: this can apparently be achieved with PhotoShop].

To summarise, if you are selling your comic, you use eBookpro. If you want someone to download it and then in turn send it to their friends and so on, you use eBookpro. If you are sending the comic or intellectual property to another colleague or editor or whomever and you do not want anyone else seeing the comic except them, you use eBookpro.

For those [comic press blog] sites you could offer an option for them to download the whole series to date or the compilation of comics; and use eBookpro. Or on the authors website have a download using eBookpro. On the author page, you can write "You can see a variety of my work on my website, click here now and download some of my latest comics".

So if you are a publisher and are afraid that your customers will send your PDF product to all their friends and your future customers you have to get a copy of eBookpro. You do not have to spend your valuable time creating amazing works of art and literature for sale, only to have your works sent freely across the Internet robbing you of your living. Avoid this situation by getting a copy of eBookpro, Click here now!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Aussie Natives

Picking up from my previous post, here are two shots of some of the Australian indigenous flowers from our garden – the bottlebrush and the delicate and feminine grevillea, 

Spring Has Certainly Sprung

Anybody who knows me well knows that I hate gardening but I love gardens. I usually grumble when I have to work in the garden, although ironically I'm pretty sure I have a green thumb and a little commonsense when it comes to looking after plants. My most successful gardening attempt came when I moved into a terrace house in Sydney city with Jozef and ex-Black Mermaid Productions™ partner Bruce Love at the time we were working on WaveDancers. The back courtyard was a veritable tangle of weeds and plants that could not breathe. The previous tenants or the landlord had not watered or fertilised them for goodness knows how long, so I put on some gardening gloves and got to work. I pulled out the weeds, pruned and watered all the established plants, swept and removed all the rubbish only to reveal that the back yard was concrete rather than dirt. I also found some large bones buried in the soil which I speculated to be the remains of a human murder victim, but I was met with laughs and derision by my two house-mates who shall remain nameless in this sentence at least! Mind you this was before CSI or other forensic television show days so I wouldn't have known where to go to get them analysed. The upshot of cultivating the garden was that within a week the plants grew new buds and within about two to three weeks the garden just absolutely came to life and began to thrive with a little TLC.

During the last few weeks I have been watching the garden on the farm erupt in blooms. I don't know what it is about the weather conditions everything is flowering en masse. I went snap happy yesterday trying to capture everything – I hope you don't mind me showing you. Oh, and just so you know, I'm not good at identifying plants – I barely know their generic names let alone their Latin names.

The first pic is of the daisies and whatevers around the base of the gum tree (eucalypt). The second pic is of a beautiful red rose. I'm not usually a rose person (I like more exotic flowers) but this one left me marveling at nature. It had the look and feel of red velvet – you know the kind that is used for curtains at a theatre.  Georgia O'Keeffe would have had a field day with this rose if she got up close and personal. The third pic is of the cottage garden around the fountain near our BBQ area. Lovely!

Friday, October 24, 2008

ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference 2009

ICv2 is the thought leader for the comics and graphic novels industry amongst other pop culture subjects including manga and anime. ICv2 has just announced its annual conference to be held on Thursday 5 February 2009 – the day prior to the NY ComicCon. The promo material says:
In a time of rapid change, market players need both insight into the trends and the inspiration to put that insight to work. Insight comes from information, and inspiration comes from hearing different perspectives on what's working and what's not from the smartest, most successful people in the business.

The ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference is where the graphic novel industry gathers to get that insight and inspiration, and in its fourth year, the Conference will play a more critical role than ever in helping publishers, retailers, librarians, creators and agents continue the growth of graphic novels into a dominant medium in American culture.
Jozef and I went to the 2nd Conference in 2006 and we got an awful lot out of it. Next year Art Spiegelman will be talking and that (as well as the industry white paper) is worth the price of admission. Sessions include "Comics on the Web – Marketing Tool or Revenue Stream?", "Comics and Social Networks", and "What the !@##*! Happened to Comics". Check out the NY ComicCon website for details. Wish we were going! Grumble Grumble ...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Art in the Eye of a Needle and the Head of a Pin

Check this out if you want a great news story. This artist is absolutely amazing. This is a wonderful story of somebody who came from adversity and was put down upon by teachers, who has since sold his collection for $20 million. If you want more, go to Maniac World for an ABC World News interview.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Star Trek Revisited

I watched Steven Spielberg's Munich the other day for the first time – two years after its release. I thought Erica Bana was tremendous, and began thinking that I hadn't seen him on screen for a little while for the simple reason that it's rare for me to make it to the movies nowadays. Then today (thanks to Colleen Doran's blog) I stumbled on this almost unrecognisable pic of him as a Romulan in the upcoming J J Abrams produced Star Trek movie. Check out this fabo UK Daily Mail article for movie business and great photos of the cast. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Women Updated

When I was a kid and long before Saturday and Sunday afternoons were filled with back-to-back sports program, the various Australian free-to-air television stations used to broadcast old movies from the 30s, 40s and 50s. One of my favourite pastimes was to watch some of these classics (and B-grade movies as well!) with my grandmother. The films I revisited time after time were romantic comedies, musicals, and various Arabian nights adventures. One of the movies that grabbed my attention from an early age was called The Women. It was made in 1939 – the same year Gone With the Wind was released. The Women, however, had a contemporary urban NYC setting, was black and white, and its cast was entirely female. It was jam-packed with famous A-List stars such as Moira Shearer, Joan Fontaine, Joan Crawford, Heddy Lamar, and Rosalind Russell. I loved the film – it was witty, bitchy, and down right entertaining. The only objections I had was in the denouement (ALERT – spoilers ahead!) – I was a pre-pubescent and obviously had no idea about feminist principles and the importance of equality and respect in relationships, but I thought that the major character should never have reunited with her cheating husband and quite frankly should have left the bastard and upgraded to a more loyal and loving type (by the way, the women in The Women are completely obsessed with their menfolk, however, no men actually make an appearance in the entire film). 

In addition to this micro cinema history lesson, it is important for you to know that the original stage play was written by magazine editor and socialite Clare Booth Luce who was a fascinating woman in her own right and who went on to become a Republican senator and then a US ambassador. I read a fascinating medical mysteries book about 15 years ago that talked about Luce's ambassadorial stint in Rome. While she was living in an old Italian villa, her health started rapidly declining to the point that she very nearly died. She returned to the USA and before long began to recover, only to return to Italy and start deteriorating again. On closer analysis (and this is a potentially good story line for House) it turned out that she had arsenic poisoning. No, it wasn't a murder attempt. Scientists traced the arsenic to old flaking paint in the bedroom of her Italian villa.

The point of this post (spot the alliteration there folks!) is that a new version of The Women starring Meg Ryan, Annette Benning, Bette Midler, Candice Bergen, Debra Messing, and Eva Mendes amongst others has just been released. It's definitely on my list of things to see but in the meantime you may want to do a mini-comparison of the two trailers for yourselves. And don't forget ... these two movies were made nearly 70 years apart.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mermaid Treasures 9

This sweet, little hand made porcelain figurine was given to me for my birthday two years ago. The soft pastel colours contrast vividly with the more brighter mermaid pieces in my collection. Jozef recognised it at once – when I first showed him – as being Spanish in origin and coming from the NAO factory in Valencia. This little one is called Sea Maiden and it was sculpted by Eva Maria Cuerva. You might also want to check out Sounds of the Sea, Jewel of the Sea as well as the mermaid historical collection on the NAO website. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Testimonials are KEY

One of the powerful messages I got at the "Big Mouth, Big Money" speaking seminar, was that testimonials are KEY to credibility, and are the voice to a new audience to tell them how good you are when they know nothing about you or your work. Authors have them as quotes on the back of their books, and no one is too big to benefit from a testimonial even Stephen King, a tried and true author.

Of all the speakers at the two day event, it was Joel Bauer that reached and moved me the most. I was so touched by his presentation that I gave him a set of my collector card set in appreciation. Well a few days after the event I received an email from Joel, and I feel I can share it here as his testimonial to my work.

"Dear Jozef,
Love your work, energy and focus...
Hope to see you soon!
Thank you for translation of your lifespan in dreaming!

Thank you Joel.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Getting the Most Out of Seminars and Conferences

Following up on our post-conference blogging from the last few days, I was left feeling incomplete. If you're anything like me you usually have reams and reams of printed and written notes, as well as lots and lots of valuable information spinning around in your mind but no strategy or system to implement what you've learned. This happened to me, so I decided to find a way in which I could most benefit from the learning experience and also transform what I had learned into practice. Consequently, I sat down and created a checklist for converting all this information into an action plan. 

I've since gone through the process, and discovered that it gave me great clarity. I thought the checklist may be useful to our Black Mermaid™ readers so here 'tis as my gift to you. Allow approximately one to two hours for every day spent at the event. It may sound onerous, but it will be worth it in the end because the act of revisiting and categorising the material will commit it to your short term and long term memory and snap you into action. This checklist has been designed for somebody like me who is visual (I use lots of colour and like to read) but can be customised to take into account people's various internal processing modalities (eg. record the tips on a CD).


Post-Event Checklist

1. Promotional Material
(a) Sort through promotional material and  identify which products/services are relevant to your business, and rank them according to the following criteria: 1=Very Important; 2=Useful; 3=Unimportant
(b) Join relevant email lists and/or check out any relevant websites according to importance classification
(c) File/discard relevant material according to importance classification.

2. Business Cards
(a) Sort through business cards and write on the back which conference/seminar you attended where you met this person, and any other specific identifying information (eg. sat next to him; wore alligator skin shoes)
(b) Rank each business card according to the criteria of whether their product/service aligns with yours and whether they are: 1=Currently relevant; 2=Potentially relevant; 3=Not relevant. File/discard business cards according to your relevance classifications.
(c) Email all the people with whom you networked to acknowledge meeting and connecting with them
(d) Join relevant email lists and/or check out any relevant websites.

3. Testimonials
If you had a positive experience at the event and gained value from it, then email a written, audio-taped or video-taped testimonial to the producer and relevant presenter/s.

4. Conference Notes
(a) Read all material and highlight the following information in relevant colours:
– Big and small ideas congruent with your business (Yellow)
– Marketing and sales tips (Pink)
– Speaking and presentation tips (Green)
– Website addresses relevant for your business (Orange)
(b) Integrate any relevant ideas into your marketing and business plan/s
(c) Create computer documents with the headings listed in (a) and add the relevant tips into their respective documents.

5. Action
(a) Break the business ideas down into steps
(b) Begin testing/trialing/implementing each idea by working step by step through the system.

6. Go Make Money and Be Successful  

And most importantly ... have fun!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Law of Attraction Made Good

Just letting you all know that I'm mighty chuffed. About 300 people attended the cash flow conference I talked about in an earlier post and each attendee received two entries into a lucky draw prize pool of about 12 prizes. Prior to coming to the event I had visualised myself winning the $50,000 cash (or the 2003 red convertible) that was up for grabs. No ... I didn't win either of them but I did pick up an iPod shuffle in a lovely tropical ocean blue colour, as well as a digital photo frame. Go me! Go the universe!

Conferences Dissected

I attended two back-to-back seminars on the weekend and Jozef went to one – the first three day event was called "Silent Killer: Three Masters of Cashflow Super Conference" and the second one was the "Big Mouth, Big Money" speaking seminar, which were produced by Mal Emery, Australia's answer (according to his website) to Napoleon Hill, author of the famous motivational tome Think and Grow Rich!  Now Jozef and I are not seminar junkies by any means but we do believe we/you need to accumulate knowledge and add to our/your repertoire of skills in order to keep evolving personally and in business. I for one am great at planning and admin, am good at my craft, but I suck ('scuse the language) as many other creatives do at money matters, which is why I thought it would be good for me to learn more about passive income streams. Turns out the five days were well worth the investment in time and money – our heads were spinning with the possibilities once the training was over and with marketing ideas to integrate into Black Mermaid Productions'™ short term and long term business plan.  The introduction to the concept of passive income was by far the most eye-opening – there are so many internet marketing opportunities, systems and tools that it shatters the traditional paradigm of having to leverage time to earn a living. Many of the presenters were making upwards of $50,000 per month just by working two hours a day. The actual shift in awareness at least for me was in identifying some of these strategies as the perfect solutions for people working in the arts who are forced to compromise and take on mundane part-time or full-time work to finance their passion – whether that be writing, art, acting, music or other. What can happen now is that by shifting one's mind-set and focusing on a particular strategy such as ebooks, ebay, or developing and marketing an information product or service, artists can work from home for a few hours a day, get some cash flow happening, and then invest the majority of their time doing the thing they love most.

The two day speaking event was a revelation as well. The two key speakers were the classy and talented Mississippi-grown John Childers who I had mentioned in a previous post, as well as the complex and multi-layered Joel Bauer who is one of the most extraordinary showmen and speakers we have ever come across. 

I have always wondered what it is about Americans that makes them so articulate and a few years ago that question was partly answered by a well-travelled Australian teacher who I had been interviewing for a book I was writing. She said she was convinced that Americans spoke so beautifully because they had been trained from childhood to present speeches and show-and-tells from the podium to the rest of their class, so much so that it became second nature for them to sell themselves and their message with great passion and finely selected, honed and expressed words. 

Joel Bauer, has elevated speaking to an artform and in my estimation is quite frankly a genius. He understands neurology, he understands pitch and voice control, he provides amazing content, he understands linguistics and acting and entertaining, he understands psychology and human behaviour and the subtleties of the conscious and subconscious minds. Jozef and I were positively in raptures by the end of the event and we truly understood and appreciated the power of language and emotion to stir and captivate the soul. We were aware of how we were being seduced but we surrendered to the experience because these kinds of moments are rare and they can change you overnight and crash through personal barriers to take you to a new level. 

So here are some YouTube clips for you to have a look at to give you a taste of what we had, which is still resonating within us. 

And by the way all you comic book professionals .... boys, if you want to increase sales then wear a black suit, white shirt and pink tie. And girls, the instructions are similar for you – black suit (skirt not trousers) and pink shirt. That is the colour combination that most people trust.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shattered Black Mermaids

We've just come back from five days of intensive seminars with long hours – 8am to 10.30pm, little sleep and spinning minds. We're wiped out now, hence the lack of blogging the last few days. Please forgive and give us 24 hours to recuperate. Reports coming soon.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Curiouser and Curiouser

It's recently been announced that Tim Burton is making a new movie version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Johnny Depp is playing the Mad Hatter (perfect casting!), Helena Bonham Carter is playing the "off with her head" Red Queen of Hearts (she'll deliver it!), Anne Hathaway is the White Queen and Australian born actress Mia Wasikowska is playing Alice – a teenage one not a pre-pubescent, which sort of spins the source material and my head around quite a bit. My memory of Alice in Wonderland has been dictated by the novel which I read over and over again as a kid, as well as the 1951 Disney animated version and the 1966 alternate animated Hanna Barbera version "What's a Nice Kid Like You Doin' in a Place Like This" where Alice falls through a television set instead of a rabbit hole (my goodness, I can still sing the song – strange what can be brought to the surface with the slightest of triggers!). The Burton version is reported to be a fusion between live-action and animation, using performance capture technology. Check out the UK Daily Mail for early pics. 

Professional Development Seminars

The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) is holding a number of professional development seminars that may be of interest to comics creators, ASA Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio members and our Black Mermaid™ blog readers. Although the seminars are aimed at authors and illustrators in general, the skills you will learn are definitely transferable into the profession and business of comics and graphic novels. Furthermore, many of the ASA portfolio members identified marketing as one of the key areas of interest, so two of these seminars will fulfill this need. The seminars are as follows:
Editing and Book Production – Wednesday 12 November 2008 (Sydney, NSW)
Marketing: The Author as Brand Name – Friday 21 November 2008 (Sydney, NSW)
Maximising Opportunities: 4-day intensive course for emerging professional writers – Monday 24 - Thursday 27 November 2008 (Adelaide, SA).
Please  note that the ASA website also has downloadable material from past seminars.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lament for Minx

We were disappointed to hear that the DC Comics Young Adult graphic novel imprint Minx has been cancelled. It was a great idea, the book covers were fabulous and from what we've read, the stories were pretty good too. We have great respect for the initiative and the editors behind it. Nobody quite knows whether to blame the publisher or the retailers, but this insightful article from PW Weekly examines the plight of comics publishers entering into the realm of traditional book publishing, and asks the question about whether or not – despite the growth of graphic novels in the marketplace – they are compatible. The author doesn't hold back:
Traditional publishing is a confusing mass of former small publishers (which worked rather the way independent comics publishers do now) that were encompassed by larger ones and then by larger ones until publishers were bloated, sprawling citadels and suburbs with no defining vision, populated with new CEOs who have never worked in publishing, disaffected and dread-filled editors, chummy agents, superstar and attempts-at-the-next-big-thing authors who receive mind-boggling advances, writers whose talent aren't enough to get them book deals because all the money was used up on advances for other authors, and the very occasional author who finds success and can make it stick. And they're all a little nervous about their futures.
In the meantime, here's an excerpt on the kind of excellent book we'll all be missing out on in the future taken from The Plain Janes. Vale Minx!

We Be Excited!

Elf~Fin just got a plug on Colleen Doran's blog and the Newsarama blog. Double yay!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New York ComicCon 2009

We had a great time at the NY Con last year, and die-hard conventioneers might be interested to know that the 2009 show tickets have already been released for sale way ahead of time. Buy your tickets online now. Once they're gone, they're gone!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Evyione for Everyone

We were contacted the other day by long term Black Mermaid™ reader Pam Crisp from Tasmania. Pam has been following the blog most faithfully and thought we (and you!) might be interested in a new Korean manga mermaid graphic novel series that was recently published. The series is called Evyione and the art and story is by Kim Young-Hee. The tale is apparently a retelling of The Little Mermaid but with a shift in perspective and role – it's told from the POV of a princess who lives on land who encounters and falls in love with a merman. Jozef's definitive criteria in assessing mermaid properties is whether or not the artist got the tail right, so we'll need to check this out pronto to see if Mr Young-Hee has succeeded, and also add the books to our respective collections. 

Orphan Works Bill

We've been following the issue of the proposed US Orphan Works Bill  through a number of topical websites and trying to understand how it will affect visual artists including comics artists working both digitally and in print. Neither of us are lawyers and neither of us are political animals and we have a difficult time wrapping our minds around some of these policies, but here is a summary of what we have gleaned from our readings:
  1. What are orphan works? Orphan works are defined on Wikipedia as a copyrighted work where it is difficult or impossible to contact the copyright holder.
  2. What is the Orphan Works Bill? This is proposed US legislation that will essentially allow individuals or organisations to arbitrarily use a work deemed to be an orphan work. The so-called copyright infringer will need to demonstrate that they have undertaken the minimum requirements for tracing the copyright holder and, if unsuccessful, will still be able to utilise the work without restriction. In turn they will supposedly pay 'reasonable compensation' commensurate with the use of the work somewhere down the track if and when the copyright holder discovers the breach. (We are unsure of whether that compensation is lodged with an agency that 'holds' it on behalf of the copyright holder, or indeed the compensation is only paid when the copyright holder challenges the infringer.)
  3. What are the implications for artists? The legislation recommends that a Database of Pictorial, Graphic and Sculptural Works be set up (these registries will need to follow guidelines set up by the government but may in fact be private commercial ventures.) The original creator of these visual works will need to register the copyright of all their art pieces in these databases. The copyright owners will thus need to pay a fee for the privilege of protecting their own work, which may end up being an expensive proposition. Those creators whose works have been used without permission can sue the infringer but, as mentioned above, may not receive substantive compensation.
Furthermore, the "Orphan Works: Legislation by Misdirection" article tells us that:

The key to the Congressional magic act has been to hide an anti-copyright rabbit in an Orphan Works hat while misdirecting attention to a tedious debate about "reasonably diligent searches," injunctive relief and statutory damages. 

Meanwhile the secret of the trick has been simple: redefine an orphaned work as "a work by an unlocatable author." 

The new definition would permit any person to infringe any work by any artist at any time for any reason – no matter how commercial – so long as the infringer found the author sufficiently hard to find.

Since everybody can be hard for somebody to find, this voids a rights holder's exclusive right to his own property. It defines the public's right to use private property as a default position, available to anyone whenever the property owner fails to make himself sufficiently available.

This is a new definition of copyright law.

Although the OWB is a US based initiative, many other countries including Australia will feel the impact of the legislation if it is passed through Senate. Colleen Doran talks about it on her blog:
And what are foreign creators supposed to do about all this? How do they handle this law which does not square with the copyright law in their own countries? Will they be forced to use our online registries to protect their works since whatever they do can be posted on the internet in minutes and, potentially, orphaned? Well, yeah. How's that fair to an artist in Sri Lanka? Or South Africa? How's that fair to older and indigent artists who have no computer access or simply can't afford to enter these databases?
Moreover, the MisDirection article cited above also tells us that:
On March 13, the Register of Copyrights testified before the House IP Subcommitte. On page 1 of her testimony she said:

"Every country has orphan works and I believe that, sooner or later, every country will be motivated to consider a solution. The solution proposed by the Copyright Office is a workable one and will be of interest to other countries."

You can be it will be of interest to other countries, because the copyrights of other countries can now be orphans in the U.S. too. The Copyright Office and the Senate have thrown down a gauntlet to the world.

Australia has a number of licensing agencies including Public Lending Right (PLR), Educational Lending Right (ELR), Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), as well as Visual Arts Copyright Collecting Agency (VISCOPY) – the latter of which deals with artistic works. It will be interesting to see what VISCOPY's POV is on this matter and we will be watching its website closely. However, we will try to keep you informed with other relevant articles and information so we can learn together. Here are some important ones to watch (thanks to Colleen Doran and Matt Elder for the leads).

"Orphan Works' Copyright Law Dies Quiet Death' (30/09/08)– Wired
"Orphan Works and Comic Book Death" – Newsarama 
"Orphan Works Emergency" (28/10/08) – Colleen Doran: A Distant Soil (hell, check out this entire 'must read' blog for comics creators).

 And here is an excellent audio summary on YouTube:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Famous Mermaid Tails

In 2004 I attended my first San Diego ComicCon. My aim was to go down every single aisle and see every single booth and go to see every single presentation and panel session of personal interest that I had highlighted in the program. I succeeded on all counts except where sessions were running concurrently and I was faced with a difficult choice of narrowing it down to one. Outside of that I managed to help Jozef complete a comic book series where he had a handful of missing issues. 

I also picked up lots of freebies on the way including a fabulous black vinyl and mesh Highlander (the movie) sports bag which to this day reminds me of Mary Poppins travel bag because you can fit so much into it. (I'll try and pack a lamp and a plant into it one day!) One of the many catalogues that caught my eye and which I picked up was called Profiles in History: Hollywood Auction 19. It had a photo of a Wah Chang green bejewelled dragon on the cover – armature from the film The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (MGM, 1962). I flicked through it and it was chock full of all kinds of Hollywood memorabilia including costumes, photos, posters, busts and props. 

Over the last week I have been madly decluttering again and I came across the catalogue. Flipping through it I found two items on interest for this Black Mermaid blog crowd – Madison's (Darryl Hannah's) mermaid's tail from Splash, and Jim Carey's mermaid's tail from a Herb Ritt's Rolling Stone magazine shoot (13-27 July, 1995). Thought you might be interested in both pieces although obviously they are both long gone and have been snatched up by some avid collectors somewhere. Don't know how much they sold for, but the asking price for the orange tail was quite understandably (knowing its place in Disney/Touchstone Picture's movie cultural history) $15,000 to $20,000. The green tail was listed as $1000 to $1500.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Elf~Fin Leaks & Peeks 3

We promised and now we're delivering. Here is a two-page scene from Elf~Fin: Hyfus and Tilaweed, incorporating Hyfus and a character you've not met before – Sandah. This will be the only complete scene from the first issue we will be releasing online prior to publication, although we may publish a few more random panels from the book.  We have deliberately not lettered the scene – we did need to maintain a bit of mystery after all, although it won't take a huge leap for you to figure out what's going on. We welcome all theories and summaries in the Comments section of this post. In the meantime, enjoy!

Picture Book Creators' Retreat 2008

The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) incorporating the Society of Book Illustrators (SOBI) is holding its annual Picture Book Creators' Retreat on 7-10 November 2008 in Adelaide, South Australia. BMP Director Jozef Szekeres will be one of the speakers, along with Dyan Blacklock and Nan Halliday. The retreat provides an opportunity for emerging an established picture book authors and illustrators to network, as well as to be inspired and energised in a supportive environment. The focus will be on graphic novels, creating stories with Indigenous content, as well as other activities. For further information and registration details, log onto the ASA website.