Comic Art, Creativity and the Law

Comic Art, Creativity and the Law

Elgar Law and Entrepreneurship series

Marc H. Greenberg

The creation of works of comic art, including graphic novels, comic books, cartoons and comic strips, and political cartoons, is affected, and at times limited, by a diverse array of laws, ranging from copyright law to free speech laws. This book examines how this intersection affects the creative process, and proposes approaches that encourage, rather than limit, that process in the comic art genre. Attention to the role comic art occupies in popular culture, and how the law responds to that role, is also analyzed.

Chapter 4: The structure and common modes for comic art

Marc H. Greenberg

Subjects: law - academic, information and media law, intellectual property law


The trope that ‘comics’ are works targeted at children is echoed in the reductive view that comic art is found in only two modes – comic strips in newspapers, and comic books. The truth is that there are at least 12 very distinct formats for comic art: comic strips; comic books; manga magazines; European albums; one-shot graphic novels; small press; mainstream syndicated comic strips; mainstream comic books; mainstream manga magazines; mainstream European albums; non-mainstream graphic novels; and non-mainstream small press publications. Each of these different formats has been shaped and impacted by different legal doctrines and laws – making it necessary to understand the key elements of each format in order to understand how the law has affected them. At the turn of the 20th century in the United States, the comic strip was introduced to the Sunday edition of major newspapers, primarily presented as entertainment for children, and for exhausted parents seeking a diversion on the weekend from the often dreary news. The format for the Sunday comics generally gave each comic creator an entire page for their comic, consisting of three to six tiers of content, with the first tier containing the title of the comic, and often an introductory graphic that may or may not have been related to the story and graphics which followed in the remaining tiers.

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