Saturday, October 20, 2007


I'd like to welcome everybody taking the detour from Cartoon Brew, and to again thank Amid Amidi for his help and great contributions to the animation community- through CB, Cartoon Modern, and his books, and of course, his great magazine, ANIMATION BLAST!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bill Watterson "Let's make a terrific comic strip- then PISS ON IT- AND ALL IT'S FANS!"

Read my efforts to explain why Bill Watterson's example should NEVER be a cartoonist's template for the right way to treat your characters or your devoted readers. I can't make it any clearer than this--If you can't grasp the entirety of the concept of licensing and why it's a necessity to protect your creation of a comicstrip and allow you to control its direction, publication, and all other uses, I really don't know what else I can say...

Earlier today, on Cartoon Brew, I was challenged as follows:

Dan OS said:
“Just a quick thought on the Watterson / merchandising topic — sorry to detract from the bio-talk.
Watterson decided not to merchandise the characters. So he didn’t.
But if he had (as I’m understanding it), the company he’d be in business with, would, ideally, clamp down on unlicensed crap being put out with his characters on it.
But when this company isn’t busy fighting the Calvin-peeing-on-stuff decals, they’re presumably still churning out well-crafted, made-with-loving-care Calvin and Hobbes bath mats or pencil sharpeners or what have you, right?
And isn’t that what Watterson didn’t want to do?
Again, maybe I’m misunderstanding, but there seems to be some leap in logic here. Why on earth should anyone blame him because there are jerks out there stealing his characters? Is it because you think he’s making it easy for them to do? Because he didn’t sign on with a big muscle company to fight the jerks — a company that would then require Calvin and Hobbes merchandise to hit the aisles?
Maybe your argument is that Watterson could have okayed “good” merchandise and, while he was at it, gained muscle in the fight against “bad” merchandise.
But the thing is, Watterson didn’t want “any” merchandise.
So he is not authorizing any.
How the people who make and buy “peeing Calvin” sleep at night is not the concern of Mr. Watterson. The idea that someone chastise him or blame him for the unauthorized junk that comes out seems kind of crazy.
Please tell me where I’m not understanding.”

Bill Field responds:
Watterson’s reasoning for not licensing CnH, in one of the few interviews he’s ever given, was to not distract from the strip, and it’s daily publications. That, we know now, was not true, because he allowed the licensing for all the book compilations. Yeah, did you think licensing only refers to trinkets, toys and paper weights? Your post clearly indicates that “he didn’t want any merchandise”. Duh, books AREN’T merchandise? Tens of millions of books have been licensed and published, some containing stickers, book marks and cut outs– he never explained his hypocracy, refuses to be interviewed about the subject. The strip isn’t published and available daily, but the Piss stickers, the vast majority of which are figurally completely on model, and the line art is taken from a panel of an actual strip where he is writing on a wall, are seen by a much larger audience, daily, than the strip ever was. After well over a decade, the general public has been “exposed” to the bootlegged Urinator countless times more than they are given a rare chance to read an actual strip, they’ll never read the strip nor enjoy the great creativity of his writing and drawing, they know only a perverted “Kilroy was here” type of image, with no link to it’s original funny page appearances. Complete licensing would have allowed him to pick and choose the images and the types of product that he saw fit, to put them on, and a task force of folks to enforce it.He was told by his contemporaries (I seem to remember among them were Gary Larson, Schulz, and Jim Davis) that it was idealistic to think that, because the control of a property starts with its protection against bootlegging and forgeries. I hope that clears it up for you.

Jesse Hamm said...
"Watterson’s reasoning for not licensing CnH, in one of the few interviews he’s ever given, was to not distract from the strip, and it’s daily publications. That, we know now, was not true, because he allowed the licensing for all the book compilations." I don't recall Watterson ever saying he wanted to limit C&H's exposure to "it’s daily publications." That addendum to his views only makes sense as a means of justifying your accusation that he's a hypocrite for allowing book collections. If you can't grasp the difference between the literary integrity of a book collection and that of a coffee mug, read Watterson's thorough explanation of his position on licensing in THE C&H TENTH ANNIVERSARY BOOK.

Determined (to Protect Your) Productions

As a cartoonist and creator, protecting what I create is most important, and I've been an outspoken critic of Calvin and Hobbes' Bill Waterson for not employing the likes of Determined Productions to protect his comicstrip. He didn't want his "baby" to become a product-producing cottage industry. But, I contend, by not allowing licensing, he had no one protecting his "baby"-- making sure no one perverts or demeans these great characters, Schulz' Peanuts had Determined Productions, and was extremely successful on both income and protection of his properties. Cartoon Brew's Thread concerning Schulz, swang in this direction, and prompted me to say this:

I think the lasting image of Calvin will be him wizzing on a car brand name on vehicle back windows everywhere.
He chose NOT to merchandise so all there is is low rent bogus leadpainted Chinese made toys, poorly made ragdoll Hobbes, and ALLLLLLL those Piss Stickers! Yeah, put out a great strip and let the world cheapen it for you because you wanted it to be all about the strip itself, no toys, no anything—which adds up to alot of crappy things in your cartoon’s image. Schulz and Determined Productions were a great fit for many years— Standard poster designs, calendars, toys always looked like the Peanuts gang! All I can say is… “GOOD GRIEF!”

That prompted James Walley's response:

James Walley said: Bill, you claim that Watterson refusing to license merchandising was what brought about the “Calvin pissing on (something or other)” bumper-stickers. Possibly, but I remember, back in the late ’60s (when Peanuts was at its height of fame and Schulz-approved merchandise was being sold everywhere), Spencer’s Gifts ran a series of posters of Lucy, Patty, and Violet, all very pregnant, shouting “Damn you, Charlie Brown!” It would appear that even the most active merchandising and licensing program is no protection against someone making a buck with tasteless rip-offs.
Determined Productions made many raids on that merchandise- which said in the top panel “Good ‘Ol Charlie Brown–” with close ups of the girls faces, and in the bottom panel a wide shot w/ them very pregnant, saying “How we hate him!”- the phrase was used in the very 1st Peanuts daily strip-in a different context of course. These bootlegs came and went within weeks, were in very small supply, most Charlie Brown mavens have ever even heard about that due to the swift legal resoloution.
In stark contrast, EVERYONE is aware of the Calvin Pissing sticker, they first surfaced 11 years ago, and they are still sold every year by the MILLIONS, unchallenged by Watterson, because he has no license management, or fraud investigators. I asked 10 folks of different ages and asked if they’ve seen the bogus sticker- they all had, then, asked the same about the pregnant Peanuts Posters that you equate to this. No one had heard of nor seen them, officials yanked them off the shelves so quickly, even you didn’t remember the right captions.
Peanuts was totally protected because they had Determined Productions in the field, actively removing anything not on their master list of products and licensing, something Bill Watterson can only wish he’d done, as well.

I was lucky that Jason Geyer knew what I was talking about--- He commented soon after:

Bill, I used to work for Determined Prod. and you are right on the money. They cared very much about protecting Peanuts and making sure that Schulz was happy with the products, etc.
I have some interesting stories about how Watterson reacted when offered the same merchandising deals for C&H, but I can’t repeat them here. ;) Let’s just say he did not appreciate the attention from licensors.

I don't want to detract from the Schulz' kids commentary on the Michaelis book, so I'm bringing the Determined Productions discussion over here--- I'm anxious to get more views on this-- So please feel free to add your thoughts!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What the Best Dressed Dogs Are Wearing, This Halloween

Charles Schulz--THE REAL STORY

I'm an outspoken person at times, OK, all my waking hours... Charles Schulz and Peanuts are sacred ground to this cartoonist. That's publicly known, so I wasn't surprised when I was asked recently to review David Michaelis' book SCHULZ AND PEANUTS: A BIOGRAPHY.
I was VERY surprised however, to find innaccuracies on practically every page and a Kitty Kelley-esque hatchet job on the man who gave us Charlie Brown and Snoopy. For the first time, I decided to decline writing a review of this book, because I don't think it deserves ANY attention whatsoever. Instead, I want you to hear the truth coming from those who knew "Sparky" best, his children.

I encourage folks to read this thread, three of Schulz' four children make it very clear how they feel they were misled during the years of Michaelis' contact with them while writing the book. And if it is not evident, for the record, I am 100% in the Schulz family corner on this.
I'm very interested in your comments and thoughts--In the words of Charlie Brown, "ARRRRGGHH!" Actually that's just one word-- (sigh!)
A tip of the Field fedora to Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi at Cartoon Brew for this revealing thread.

OK----time to bulk it up!

I have to admit, I had expected to get this "albatross" off the ground in better fashion, MONTHS ago. But, between working on 2 pilots, my participation in GRIDIRON, yes I'll be reprising my role as President W, as well as a GEICO caveman, Bill O'Reilly, Mitt Romney- funny how the "Left" Fieldster here, always gets the Right Wing Roles...

Randy Martin, my great friend, Co- Gig, and fellow UNT alumni, has his, and terrific wife/partner Kathy's, first episodes of A&E's Biography tonight-WHITNEY HOUSTON -"Crack is WHACK!" followed right after by BEYONCE- She's "Divalicious!"

Prolific author and broadcaster from across yonder pond--UK's Brian Sibley was gracious enough to look in on this blog--mentioned my sparse content, rightly so--- But I am using that as a springboard to get the FIELDtrip on the road and into shape. Brian, I hope you keep stopping by, as I'll be posting video, illustrations and hopefully, entertaining you with my BillFieldness... THANKS BRIAN!

My cousin and look alike, Lyle Lovett was here in Alamoville(SA), and performed at the Majestic, Sunday--- He's really one of the great entertainers, and a true original, and my only famous relation! Ya Gotta Lovett!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Well- reading John K.'s blog as usual, I noticed him pining away for this Lost Flavor and well- I was able to find an example of the Package! Hope you enjoy it John!