Sites all over the internet, sites just like this one, use images from various movies, comics, TV shows, and more for commentary and analysis. The thing that allows them to do so is fair use. It’s pretty nifty, but comic artist Randy Queen seemingly didn’t think so.
Queen took issue with the blog Escher Girls, which points out impossible and unrealistic depictions of women in comics and other media. All the “sexy” poses that don’t look quite right get a bit of attention on the site. Coincidentally, Randy Queen is the artist of Darkchylde and Starfall, two books which are known for just these sorts of depictions. Queen has graced Escher Girls a few times, but recently he seems to have gotten fed up with it.
Queen contacted Tumblr, which is where Escher Girls is hosted, and reported several of the posts on the blog for copyright infringement. Tumblr removed the posts entirely, both text and images. Shortly after, Queen started emailing the Escher Girls staff threatening legal action.
Dear Eschergirls and Kim,
I would encourage you to put a stop to all of this. I have no problem getting legal involved for defamation, and for your various allegations on your takedown notice thread, and am happy to send a formal cease and desist letter from my lawyer.
Instead of simply removing the content you do not have the right to electronically distribute, you wish to push further, and publicly challenges my right to protect the perception of my IP as it exists today.
At this point, I will ask you to please move along, as no good will come of this.
Additionally, instead of taking shots at art someone did 18 years ago while they were still learning – which are no longer representative of their current art style or direction for their character – I encourage you to spend your time and energy on creating your own characters and comics which you can mkae your own personal sacrifices to bring to the world.
In short: Queen was threatening legal action to a blog that was using his art to discuss and point out what they perceived as a flaw in certain styles of art and the general attitude in comics. Threatening legal action was not the right choice, as some people thought. Among them was Rob Liefeld, who has more right than anyone to get mad at people criticizing his art.
— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) August 5, 2014
At this point the internet erupted. Fair use is something that many hold dear, especially those that run sites dedicated to reviewing, commenting on, and analyzing various forms of entertainment media. Queen had seemingly fought fair use and won.
After all the outrage, Queen did apologize. As he sent Ami Angelwings, Escher Girls admin, an email with the subject “Apology” and also posted a more public apology and explanation to his Facebook page.
Just wanted to clear up a few things that happened this past week. I have been having a very hard time in my personal life with the loss of my mother and my marriage having fallen apart and found myself in a very vulnerable and fragile state of mind. There were posts on the web criticizing my artwork that were brought to my attention and added to my stress. I reacted without thinking it through, but have now stopped, realizing my response was the wrong one to take. I am doing my best, each day, to get myself back on my feet and getting my life in a better place and realize now that I have just try to move on and get back to my art, the thing I find the most joy in these days. I want to thank those professionals, friends and family who have been giving me their support, understanding and love.
Thanks for listening.
Queen sounds genuinely sorry and the circumstances make it somewhat understandable. Even with his apology, Queen did do something big by showing the potential flaws in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is what allowed him to claim copyright violation in the first place. Rather than using it to actual squash violations, he used it to censor criticism, which I think we can all agree isn’t good for the internet as a whole.
Seriousness aside, just look at that cover by Queen above. Dude can’t deny any of what the Escher Girls staff was saying.