So, it seems the creators of The Walking Dead think they should have some kind of corner on the entire “zombie” market. I have remained in contact with the makers of The Toking Dead ever since I received their first issue, which I thought was fantastic. Yesterday, Jeff Homan, co-creator with Benjamin Bartlett, brought to my attention an article that had posted on digboston.com. You can find the article HERE.
It seems that TWD creators are alleging that because TTD has a zombie theme it is too close to the theme of their content and will basically, create confusion amongst the masses. I have to say this has to be the dumbest thing I think I may have heard all year.
Let’s first address the fact that Homan and Bartlett applied for and received all patent and copyright approvals from the appropriate government agencies BEFORE publishing their comic. Now, if their idea had been considered too close to TWD, they never would have gotten approval for those. Period, the end. But wait, there’s more.
The Walking Dead is centered around zombies coming after humans and attacking them during the very common idea of a zombie apocalypse. It also has the age-old idea of the surviving humans banning together in small tribes with the idea that within each tribe they hold their own set of laws and morals. Now, if you want my HONEST opinion…
TWD people stole the zombie idea from George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and modernized it, then combined it with a modernization of Lord of the Flies. SO NOT ORIGINAL.
Now, as far as I’m aware, this is the first comic book that fuses cannabis and zombies together in this particular fashion. THAT is ORIGINAL. This comic series in NOT just about smoking pot and a bunch of zombies running rampant and biting people. Homan and Bartlett know that one very excellent way to communicate AND educate is through an entertainment medium. They are passionate advocates for the medicinal benefits of cannabis and truly felt that a comic book would be a better medium for informing the masses than some dry old boring textbook of sorts.
But let’s get to THE REAL abhorrent nature of this lawsuit. How about we put it into a formula EVERYONE can understand. Not pot related.
We all know about the huge soda conglomerate, the Coca-Cola Company, introduced in 1886. We also all know they aren’t the only cola product out there, although they WERE the first (unlike The Walking Dead with their zombies). In the 1980s, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola went head to head, spending millions of dollars in advertising campaigns in what were called “The Rock and Roller Cola Wars” to prove who had the best product. At the same time, products like Shasta Cola (1960s), RC Cola (Royal Crown Cola around since 1906), and Sam’s Choice Cola (1990s) were all on the market while Coke and Pepsi continued to battle it out. Yet, I need you to notice one major thing.
THEY ARE ALL COLA DRINKS.
Coca-Cola tried to do the same thing by suing other cola companies claiming that because they used “cola” in the name that it would be too confusing and ruin their sales. Unfortunately, there were a lot of underdogs that lost that ridiculous fight.
But these are new times. I hope that people nowadays are more rational in realizing that this is truly a ridiculous lawsuit, probably aimed at depleting time, money and further resources to push the little guy out of the market.
But here’s the thing. First off, these guys don’t want in TWD’s market. They aren’t in this for the money and if you read the article you will see that they only make $2 on every issue printed. They also go to trade shows and fundraisers, and that is coming out of THEIR pockets, NOT profit, I guarantee you.
Unless you’ve worked in trade show business, you have NO CLUE what it costs just to get a booth at those places, let alone get any kind of advertising in their show brochures, etc. Then, you have to add the cost of travel, inventory, hotel stays, food expenses, paying people who work for you there, their expenses…it just goes on and on. If you want the Union guys to haul pallets in for you, that costs money, a couple thousand dollars actually. If you want carpet in your booth, that costs money, again a couple thousand. If you want the convention to provide a sound system or A/V equipment, put drapes on your booth tables, that costs money, and again, it's thousands. Then, you have to understand that these guys are finding TOP QUALITY artists to work with them on their issues. By the time it’s all over, these guys are probably just barely keeping their heads above water just wanting to get information out in a more appealing way, they’re not making any money off of anyone’s coattails (as TWD is claiming). I’m wondering if these guys are making any money at all. From what I can tell, they are passionate advocates and they love what they do.
Now, if there IS someone that should probably get sued here, maybe it should be TWD people for doing a modern-day rip-off of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Or am I the only one who has put the basic premises of these two stories together like that??? Maybe I’m just the only one not caught up in the hype of the masses. I tend to think that if EVERYONE is on the bandwagon about something (anything), that’s usually my cue to step back and re-evaluate for myself, get my OWN thoughts.
(Side note: Believe it or not the FIRST actual zombie film ever made was in 1932 called White Zombie by Victor Halperin.)
So, I ask you? Should everyone who ever made anything zombie related be sued by Halperin’s heirs because it “might cause confusion”??? Or do you think there might be enough zombie material for everyone. Besides, Homan and Bartlett were at least creative and did something different. How many times do we need a typical zombie apocalypse theme before people get over the hoopla?
I’m a staunch supporter of small business and indie filmmakers and writers. I’m also pro-marijuana. I am also for free enterprise as that is the cornerstone of our economy. We have laws to prevent monopolies to keep big bad Goliath-like money wranglers such as Coca-Cola and TWD from pushing out the Davids of the world like The Toking Dead and RC Cola (which by the way, tasted so close to real Coke you couldn’t tell a difference.)
If TWD gets away with this, even though the guys went through all the proper channels and got approval for everything, they’ll continue to go after ANYONE who has any idea that involves zombies that walk. That is just too broad of a spectrum to sue someone over and much too broad of a market to try to corner. These guys need to get over themselves and realize that they’ve made so much money already and that these Toking Dead guys aren’t going to affect that.
I mean, when did you last hear about Nordstrom’s complaining about Macy’s or Wal-Mart selling clothes too and that it was going to confuse their customers and impact sales??? Nordstrom’s doesn’t give a shit what Macy’s or Wal-Mart does. And vice versa. And do you know why? Because they know those stores aren’t cutting into their sales. Sure, it’s clothes. But it’s a different kind of customer, there’s different brands, etc. Just like this is a zombie comic but a different kind of comic, with different details and quirks.
Look, in the retail market there are all kinds of customers. That means there’s plenty to go around for everyone who wants to put in the work and effort to service THOSE customers. Obviously, The Toking Dead has found a client base that TWD hasn’t tapped and now won’t be able to. Poor babies. But they really should back off and realize that they didn’t create the zombie idea, they don’t own the zombie idea and they can’t corner the zombie idea.
Much love to my awesome friends and crew at The Toking Dead!!!
The Countess of the Crypt