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 12: Comic art and the law in the international marketplace

Marc H. Greenberg

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


There are three major schools of comic art primarily produced and distributed in the world – the American/British school, which has been the focus of most of this book; the Franco-Belgian school; and the Japanese school. While an extensive examination of the effect law has on the creative process in these latter two schools of comic art is well worth conducting, it is beyond the scope of this book. To do this subject justice would require an analysis of copyright, contract, tax and other laws in each of these regions – a fascinating study, but one which would likely triple the size of this work. Rather than ignore this subject however, this chapter is offered to identify a few of the key legal and business issues these schools of comic art give rise to. Comic art created in the Franco-Belgian model is called bande dessinée (literally ‘drawn strips’) and emerges from a very different context than the American/British school. A key difference is that this art was never offered primarily to an audience of children, and the subject matter was never viewed as primarily a vehicle for comedy and jokes. As a consequence, the American/British view that comic art is a lesser form of art that is oriented to an uncritical audience of children never has been shared in the Franco-Belgian context.

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