Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bring on the Legal Teams!

Not for real, and hopefully never.

The subject of this particular blog is more or less to put down my limited understanding of some of the legalities involved in comics with specific regards to particular re-invisioning of certain characters.

I am a fan of the Lone Ranger.  I always have been.  I spent many a day in my youth watching a crappy 9" black and white television every weekend when the westerns came on to catch the exploits of that western badass and his friend (not sidekick) Tonto.  I loved the lore of the character and for as long as I can remember I have asked myself "What next?"

I have a tendency to see things on timelines.  I do this with people I just met as well as with fictional characters.  I have even been known to do this with inanimate objects like cars and buildings.  I like creating stories.  This trait, I am told, is a side effect of having that sort of inclination.

But back to the Ranger.  I watched the episodes loyally yet with a moderate amount of skepticism.  That would never fly in the modern world, I told myself.  And that got the gears to spinning.  What would the Lone Ranger be like were he riding today?  What about him in the future?  What about him in the past?  What would he be like fighting prohibition era gangsters?  He couldn't do it on horseback, if he did...that would be untennable.  He'd have to have something more mobile and faster.  Like a motorcycle.  That would make one hell of a story.  The Lone Ranger on a motorcycle fighting gangsters.  Only problem with that is that never happened.  The Lone Ranger fought in the Wild West and died before the gangsters time.  Or did he?

I had this idea back in college and did countless hours of research and drawing to get it right.  I wrote several issues of a comic that bridged the gap between the Horseback Knight and MY modern one.  I put him smack in the middle of Chicago during the Gangster-era and had the makings of one HELL of a story. 

Then I left it.  I put it in a book and shelved it because I was afraid.  I was mortally afraid that the people who owned the legal rights to the Lone Ranger would snatch all my hard work and my imaginations and pocket them, leaving me with empty pockets and possibly a lawsuit.

I have gotten over this fear with the recent realization that there is such a thing as Public Domain.  As long as the character I create is NOT the Lone Ranger...has no ties to the Lone Ranger and I never mention the Lone Ranger, or show him in any fashion, my creation will remain mine.  he will be 'inspired by' (How I loathe that term) him, true...but the character himself will be a living, breathing embodiment of my own subconscious imagination. 

The story I wrote for him has been shelved for now.  I will tell a different one.  Eventually I may share that original generational bridge with the public.  Who he is and how he came to be, and whatnot...but for now, I will not even refer to him as The Ranger.  At least not in print.  That's his name in my mind, and there it will stay till I have had a chance to actually speak with the proper rights holders and sell them on my idea. 

I think they'll like it, as it will bring the character I love so much into a more modern time and give me so many opportunities to write awesome stories.  Stories with the action and heart that I saw way back in my childhood in the face of a masked man with a silver bullet.

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