- In this Issue
- Kristen Bell
- Not Comics
- Press Release
- Story Archive
- Video Games
- March 2009
- February 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- April 2008
- March 2008
- February 2008
- January 2008
- December 2007
- November 2007
- October 2007
- September 2007
- August 2007
- July 2007
- June 2007
- May 2007
- April 2007
- March 2007
- February 2007
- January 2007
- December 2006
- November 2006
- October 2006
- September 2006
- August 2006
- July 2006
- June 2006
- May 2006
- April 2006
- October 2005
- September 2005
- August 2005
- June 2005
- May 2005
- April 2005
- March 2005
- February 2005
By Tim Leong
Indie comic writer Andrea Grant is engaged in a legal battle with DC Comics over the word “Minx.” Grant, who is known for dressing like her character for promotion, released the mini-comic Andrea Grant’s Minx. DC claims it owns the trademark for the title “minx,” via an eight-issue series by Peter Milligan and Sean Phillips that was published in 1998. Now, Grant expands on what happened, what’s next and what it means for the rest of the indie comics community.
CF: Tell us about Minx — Where did it come from?
Andrea Grant: I started using the Minx character in 2000. And it originally ran as a very small comic strip in the back of Copious Magazine, which was an art magazine that I was producing at the time. Minx became a character that I’d use in performances and other projects. And then I had been wanting to do a full length comic book for some time, and I was moving to New York City and found the right artist and got the project going. Then we released the mini-comic at the New York Comic-Con and we’re gearing up to release issue No. 1 now.
CF: The first issue is 40 pages, self-published. When are you releasing it?
It’s supposed to be out this summer, [with a print run of] 1000 copies.
CF: You exhibit your creativity in a lot of different media — why comics?
I feel like the comic book audience would understand the multimedia aspect of my work. Certainly it’d be a good forum on top of that. I could have a book and then have an audio recording disc in the back as a bonus item, or video, even. It’s kind of a subculture audience. [Minx] can translate into the mainstream, but it’s not really that mainstream, so I hope they’d understand it a little more.
CF: You talked about this multimedia aspect — how has that aspect played into the marketing of the book?
When issue one does come out, there are going to be a lot of collages and they’re going to get a bit of the poetry and that alternative writing style. And they’re going to get some of that mixed with the comic and I hope it’ll be well received.
CF: Then what do you envision the frequency being after the first issue?
I’ve been asked to do something in an anthology for Halloween, which is great. It’ll be an eight-page story that is independent as well. Issue two…it’s probably going to take about six months before I get issue two out. So probably Fall or Winter.
CF: Now, why do you think it’s so important for the indie comic industry to exist?
I think it’s because of the love. There’s so much heart in it. People put their lifeblood into producing their independent projects. It’s really, really strong. People are pretty supportive of each other. I think that it’s not just about money. Of course everybody dreams about making a living do what they want to do, and that’s great. But, there has to be that level, I think. And it comes to someone who starts out doing comics in their basement as a teenager and saving up every bit of their allowance money to produce one issue versus who have a lot of money and maybe don’t have their hands on the pulse of the subculture….It seems like they go in a variety of directions and they’re not necessarily so predictable.
CF: Do you think that’s contrary to the mainstream or just more intensified in the indies?
I think the problem with the mainstream is that everything is so dumbed down.
CF: In what way?
Everything in the mainstream is created to be accessible to the lowest common denominator — the general public. It’s safe, it’s vanilla, it’s not risky. It’s formulaic. It’s the same in the movies. With something like Sin City, it’s a little bit more risky versus something like Spider-Man. Maybe they’re both well done but they’re definitely different. I heard a lot of reviews of Sin City with people saying they didn’t get it and were perplexed by it. I think it’s great to have that range.
CF: What’s going on with DC?
Everybody wants to know what’s up with DC. I received a very polite Cease and Desist letter a few weeks ago saying that they had trademarked the word “minx” and they’d like for me not to use it in my title. In anticipation of something like this ever happening, I called my mini comic “Andrea Grant’s Minx,” so I’m already sort of different with the title. To add to that, there’s a lot of companies using the word “minx” — there’s a modeling agency, a restaurant, a band and minx is a noun in the dictionary. It’s very difficult to monopolize a noun. I understand not wanting to have consumer confusion, but I think my project is very different. They haven’t even released anything, first of all, and they’re thinking of doing a magazine for 12-year-old girls. It’s a very different market.
Minx is not a traditional superhero comic. My goal with this project is to re-work into myths and it’s part of my intent to tell basic stories in modern consciousness, especially Native American legends. I’m part Native American and I don’t think that these stories have been told enough. They’re traditionally told orally and then lost. When I started I had a very different from a teenage magazine.
CF: How did they hear about your project?
They mentioned something about the New York Comic-Con, so I guess it caught their eye.
CF: So what’s the next step?
Well I have my lawyers dealing with it. They’re communicating with DC and sent a letter out today, so that’s nice. And I guess there’s been a little flurry in the press, just so DC knows that I’m not completely willing to cave in. This happens all the time. A lot of creators get these kinds of letters — I’m not the only one. A lot of writers and artists are very confused about the difference between copyright and trademark and the laws, of course, vary from country to country. A lot of people get these letters and get nervous and give up. I’m fortunate to have good lawyers and Minx is something I’ve been using for a very long time. You can’t trademark something and then not use it for many years. You can’t just buy out every title that you might one day want to do something with and then not do anything with it for 10 years then say, “Oh, sorry, it’s ours.”
CF: Have you read the version they’re referencing?
I know there was something called “The Minx” that was many years ago. I think it was about this girl that was taken over by this spirit and I know it was discontinued a long time ago. Then this magazine for girls, I don’t really know what it is. I haven’t seen anything on it yet.
Because you dress up in costume for the comic and for performances, Minx is almost like an auxiliary brand of yourself. How have you been able to take advantage of that so far in your work?
Initially when I started finding my creative voice, it gave me a feeling of faith, working as another character as I came to terms with putting my work out there. It’s so personal and a lot of it is very raw and very emotional. When you start creating these things it’s’ definitely something that takes a bit of time to get used to and there’s a transition period to feel comfortable with yourself as an artist. I feel like most people w hen they start out are timid about their work.
CF: Not just comics, but performance or whatever?
Yeah, exactly. I thought it’d be fun. I liked the idea that all the characters exist in real life. What I’m trying to do is almost have a film quality to it and it’s almost actors playing in the comic. Though I doubt I’m a superhero in real life. There’s no megalomania attached to it.
CF: So, what’s going to happen if you lose the case?
The lawyers are taking care of it. I can’t really say too much about the process and what’s going on. But, I think it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and I do believe there’s validity to my case and the point I’m trying to make. I don’t think it’s that serious — they’re not saying, “Change the name of the character, don’t use the character.” They’re just saying don’t use it in the title. But for me there is a brand recognition quality and they’re trying to be polite to me as well. We’ll just see what happens and hopefully we can move forward. I don’t want this to be a negative experience. I think it’s important for me to stand up because a lot of people are interested in this and a lot of people have had this happen to them. So I think it’s definitely important to take the hard line and take a strong stance because I think people need to see somebody do that. I have nothing personal against DC Comics or their large company. I’m independent and I’m trying to get this book out and it’s a lot of work and a lot of money and I want it to be well received and want to be associated with something positive.
CF: What do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned through this experience thus far?
You can’t be too paranoid. When you start a new project a lot of people are afraid to show anybody their work or send anything out. I think personalizing it as much as I did is definitely a good idea. It definitely helped me out in the end.
For more information on Andrea Grant and Minx, check out her Web site.