The Ellison-Fantagraphics Settlement

ellison.jpgJust got back and have a million things I wanna do here, so what better than to comment on the recently released documents of the settlement between writer Harlan Ellison and publisher Fantagraphics? (the document is available here) Well, I guess there’s lots, but here we go. While it is obviously the most practicable reason for all involved, and eminently understandable that both parties wished to settle – Fantagraphics not wanting to spend a fortune in legal fees and Ellison basically just wanting to obtain some kind of redress he could subsequently hang his Phrygian cap on, like he did with his settlement with AOL a few years back. Congratulations all round on putting this matter behind you.
 

groth.jpgHowever, it is nevertheless sad to see what is essentially bullying tactics on the part of self-styled free-speech champion Ellison have an effect, no matter how diffuse. The major concession here is that Fantagraphics have conceded to remove the offending parts of their upcoming 30th anniversary book and company history, Comics as Art – We Told You So, despite having maintained and gone far to prove that these allegedly libelous statements are substantially true. Ellison has produced nothing that refutes the clear evidence backing up their statements in the book, provided by Fantagraphics in their motion to dismiss, and while he naturally should not necessarily be expected to do so in public and should therefore perhaps be given the benefit of the doubt, the evidence against him is substantial.

Regarding the other agreements between the parties, they are either sensible – that both parties should refrain from ad hominem attacks against each other – or subtly circumventive – that Fantagraphics will remove Ellison’s name and their interview with him from future editions of their interview collection The Comics Journal 6: The Writers. While the issue regarding the latter was not the reprinting of the interview, which they had and have every right to do, but rather arrogantly describing Ellison as a “Comics Dilletante” on the cover of the book, this is actually a wise settlement. It was challenging Fantagraphics’ right to putting his name on the cover of a book that contained an interview with him – not being able to sue them over the wording itself which is merely a statement of opinion – which was the most potentially serious of the issues in the lawsuit. If Ellison had carried the day here, it could have had far-ranging consequences for the rights of publishers to use the names of the authors they legitimately publish on the covers of their books. An irresponsible action from Ellison, which has now been quietly curtailed with a promise not to use his name on, or include the interview in, upcoming editions of a book that would probably never be reprinted in the first place.

Still, this could hypothetically all have been solved by a shrug on Ellison’s part.

For information of the case and all the documents released to the public, go here or here. Read the previous Metabunker posting on the case here. Photos of much younger versions of Ellison and Groth (of Fantagraphics) nicked from Heidi.

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