Epic & Adventure - publishers or imprints?

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Epic & Adventure - publishers or imprints?

Postby ttullio » Tue Oct 17, 2006 11:36 pm

Epic Comics is in the db as both an imprint of Marvel (64 titles) and as a publisher (15 titles.)

Based on the indicia ("Published by Epic Comics") I would think this qualifies as a publisher ... compare with Amalgam Comics, which clearly says "Published by Marvel Comics" in the indicia. So which way do we go?

On the other side of the coin, we have Adventure Comics entered as a publisher, but it is identified as "a division of Malibu Graphics" in the indicia. Should be an imprint IMO, as Malibu published under other names (Eternity is one) as well.

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Postby DarthSkeptical » Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:30 am

Epic's an imprint. Period. It was never anything but owned by Marvel, in either it's 1980s or brief 1995-6 and 2003 incarnations.

Adventure Comics, as well, was always an imprint. But if you want to be hyper-accurate--and I think we should be--it's not an imprint of Malibu Comics, but rather Malibu Graphics. Malibu Comics, is fact, is an imprint as well.

I'm pretty sure it goes something like this:

Publisher: Malibu Graphics
Imprints: Malibu Comics, Adventure Comics, Bravura, Eternity Comics, Genesis, Protectors Universe, Ultraverse

The tricky thing about Malibu is that it was bought out by Marvel, which has not used the company name again, but has used some of the concepts (like those presented by Ultraverse). So you kinda have to know whether, on a given issue, you're talking about Malibu Ultraverse or Marvel Ultraverse.

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Postby ttullio » Thu Oct 19, 2006 4:47 pm

So you don't think my distinction -- what it says after "published by" in the indicia -- is relevant, eh?

(I wonder what it says on Icon books these days ... I'll have to check tonight.)

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Postby DarthSkeptical » Thu Oct 19, 2006 7:05 pm

ttullio wrote:So you don't think my distinction -- what it says after "published by" in the indicia -- is relevant, eh?

(I wonder what it says on Icon books these days ... I'll have to check tonight.)


I think indicia aren't bound to give you a complete organizational chart of a major corporation, no. It's legal enough to say that they're printed by one of the entities involved. For instance, Loveless doesn't actually say anything about Vertigo in the indicia, except that Vertigo is a trademark of DC. Otherwise, the indicia would make it seem that it's a DC title, like any other.

While indicia can reveal interesting information, they can also be misleading in some respects. They are legal requirements—not bibliographic absolutes. It's put there by command of the post office, not so much for the aid of the librarian. So there's a kind of legal, but highly purpose-specific, "truth" to an indicia which may not always find applicability to a comic book reader trying to find out who published a book. When it comes to publishers, in many ways the logo on the front has at least as much weight as the fine print inside, and sometimes more. Is All Star Comics a DC publication? Or is it an All-American comic? Is Superman a DC publication, a National Periodical Publication, or a Time + Warner publication? Detective Comics were the plaintiff in the early Wonderman suit about Superman copyright violations, but in the case against Fawcett's Captain Marvel, the plaintiff was NPP. In the case against the producers of The Greatest American Hero, the plaintiffs were again DC and (I think) Warner Brothers.

I also think that "imprint" is a term without precise legal standing. As we've discussed at length in this forum, defining what constiutes an imprint is a very tricky thing. Because sometimes imprints were once freestanding companies that were bought and became a division of another company. And sometimes they're created as a new division of an already-existing company. The way in which they would then present themselves in an indicia might therefore be different. For a division recently acquired, the parent company might allow the division to indicate "published by [imprint name]", as a condition of the merger document, as a way to make the imprint seem more distinct from the parent company, or even as just a staff morale boost. An indicia can list either the publisher or the imprint and still be legally "correct".

Put simply, an indicia devoid of the name "Marvel" doesn't change the fact that Epic was always a division of Marvel.

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Postby ttullio » Thu Oct 19, 2006 7:54 pm

Thanks for the thorough analysis. I know the imprint issue is a slippery one and has been debated at length... these were just two obvious oddities I happened to encounter one night.

Personally, I'm 100% happy with the definition Chris initially offered in that other thread: "An imprint is an entity under which a number of titles are grouped." Seems to be little harm in erring on the side of inclusiveness and avoiding all the quasi-legal subtleties.

So, ideally, we should get on to correcting those 15 Epic titles and all of the Adventure Comics titles, yes?

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Postby DarthSkeptical » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:20 am

That'd be my guess, yes. :)

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Postby ttullio » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:43 am

FYI: I've corrected all of the existing entries that identified Adventure Comics as a publisher, moving them to the Adventure Comics imprint of Malibu Graphics.

In doing so, I discovered that there is (or was) a publisher by the name of Adventure Publications, and there's one title from them in the database already. (Death Hawk)

Here's something for the future feature wishlist: considering the dependency of imprint upon publisher, it might be nice if the IMPRINT field on the title & issue entry screens was initially disabled, and was dynamically populated with only valid options once PUBLISHER was selected. A little remote-scripting wizardry (a la the creator fields) should do it.

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Postby DarthSkeptical » Wed Oct 25, 2006 7:08 pm

ttullio wrote:Here's something for the future feature wishlist: considering the dependency of imprint upon publisher, it might be nice if the IMPRINT field on the title & issue entry screens was initially disabled, and was dynamically populated with only valid options once PUBLISHER was selected. A little remote-scripting wizardry (a la the creator fields) should do it.


Hmmm, I think the problem with that is that, since imprints are sometimes legal entities separate from a particular publisher, they could theoretically be sold beteween publishers. So I think there are probably instances where an imprint might exist at different times at different publishers.

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Postby ttullio » Thu Oct 26, 2006 1:20 pm

DarthSkeptical wrote:So I think there are probably instances where an imprint might exist at different times at different publishers.


A valid point, yes. But there's nothing that says the publisher-imprint relationship has to be one-to-one. It could be many publishers to one imprint in cases such as you describe.

This would require adding a table to the db to bridge between the existing publisher & imprint records, and someone making the effort to populate it with all the existing relationships, of course. No one's idea of fun, I'm sure. :)


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