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Topic: OT: Is Dark Horse Ripping Off "Living With Zombies"? (Topic Closed Topic Closed) Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 10:06am | IP Logged | 1  

I'm hoping to get people's opinion on this matter. If this is not appropriate to post on the forum, I apologize.

Two people I know, who both have frequented my shop, Comics Unlimited, are the creators of a comic book series named “Living With Zombies,” which features me as a character. “Living With Zombies” is a comedy-horror series about the continuing exploits of two slacker pals who one day find that the world around them has become overrun by zombies.
 
The series was created by Matthew C. Billman and Christopher Herndon in 2003 as a web comic. The series was later published in 2004 by Frightworld Studios, and later by Goathead Publishing. There have been seven issues published, and a trade paperback was published in 2007 collecting all the issues up to date.
 
“Wizard” magazine has twice mentioned the series, once in an article about zombie comics where it was given a full page write-up, and later in an article about the top 40 Independent comics that “Wizard” suggested its readers should be reading.
 
The reason I bring all of this up is that there is a series being published by Dark Horse Comics, created by Dark Horse owner Mike Richardson. This series features stories about the continuing exploits of two slacker pals who one day find that the world around them has become overrun by zombies.
 
Sound familiar?
 
It is titled “Living With The Dead.”
 
What is particularly interesting is that Matthew Billman was contacted by Dark Horse Associated Editor, Mike Carriglitto over a year before “Living With The Dead” was published.  Carriglitto told Billman that he wanted to discuss the possibility of Dark Horse Comics publishing "Living with Zombies.“ Billman gave Mike a synopsis of what the title was going be like in future issues. Billman  never heard back from Carriglitto or Dark Horse.
 
The two comics share exactly the same premise, and very similar titles. On the Comic Book Resources website, in the "Lying In The Gutters" column, Mike Richardson explains, "...My only exposure to ("Living With Zombies") came when I was approached by one of my editors some time back about a possible resemblance to an on-line comic he was interested in publishing in comic form. Because of the possible similarities, I passed on the project and purposely have not EVER looked at it."
 
While Richardson denies taking anything from "Living With Zombies," I find it odd that Dark Horse would purposefully publish a series that, again, shares the same exact premise, with very similar titles. It's not just a zombie comic. It is a humor-driven zombie comic about two slacker buddies having the time of their lives fighting zombie hordes.
 
This part of Mike Richardson's description for "Living With The Dead" would exactly match any description for "Living With Zombies":
 
"...It seemed that if two buddies survived, they could make lemonade out of the lemon they were handed. First...
 
....Their success at blending in allows them build their own paradise. The best of friends."
 
The only differences is the eventual addition of a love interest, and the two main characters dressing up as zombies.
 
As noted, above, I am featured as a regular character in the series by Billman and Herndon. I mention this in the interest of full disclosure. While it can be leveled that I have some bias as a result, I do not  have any financial stake in the series, and I am not creatively involved with the series.
 
I do feel that Billman and Herndon are being wronged, based on what I know, though.
 
Do you agree?
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Al Cook
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 10:10am | IP Logged | 2  

Time for your friends to get an intellectual property lawyer, methinks.
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Donald Miller
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 10:15am | IP Logged | 3  

Wow, sounds like a rip off to me.  Not just the fact that they are similar, but that there seems to be a sneaky subtext to the whole situation...like titles, like descriptions,shady timing....

I don't want to jump to conclusions but....just seems shady to me.
I am working a new title called Teen Arachnid.  It features a teen who gains the powers of a Spider after a science accident.  the idea just came to me.


Don 
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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 10:15am | IP Logged | 4  

To Al: I've been suggesting he look into that.

Edited by Matt Hawes on 06 November 2007 at 10:16am
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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 10:17am | IP Logged | 5  

The thing that clenches it for me is that the Dark Horse editor did solicit Matt Billman about publishing the series back when. Mike Richardson can dance around it all he wants, but the books are a lot closer than just being another zombie comic book.

Edited by Matt Hawes on 06 November 2007 at 10:18am
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Martin Redmond
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 10:43am | IP Logged | 6  

That's unoriginal, he could've at least altered the title better.
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Philippe Negrin
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 11:42am | IP Logged | 7  

The title is similar and the fact that they were contacted by Dark Horse for a Zombie project seems to make it a clear plagiarism case.
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Jacob P Secrest
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 11:44am | IP Logged | 8  

Sounds like a rip off to me.
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Matthew Hansel
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 11:47am | IP Logged | 9  

Remember...we all draw upon the same well...

MPH

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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 12:29pm | IP Logged | 10  

Matt your friends might want to look into getting a lawyer. To atleast see if they have a case. It can be argued that "Shaun of the Dead"  was an inspiration for Dark Horse's comics

Edited by Anthony J Lombardi on 06 November 2007 at 12:30pm
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CJ Grebb
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 12:53pm | IP Logged | 11  

FYI - "Shaun of the Dead" came out in 2004.

So if the timeline above is correct, they beat Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright to this little slice of intellectual property.

Of course, in light of Shaun of the Dead, it would be difficult to argue that the idea was so wholly original that no one could have come up with it in parallel. Considering how long movies take to get made, it's probable that the "Shaun of the Dead" script pre-dates the "Living with Zombies" online comic.

I'm not a lawyer - but if they pursued some kind of action, I'd guess that they'd have to prove that specific plot points, events, dialog, etc. were lifted from their comic.
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Al Cook
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 12:58pm | IP Logged | 12  

I have some familiarity with intellectual property law. They have a case, and
should pursue it.

(Intellectual property law will concern itself with the timelines of creation
between two singular projects - in this case comicbook series about slackers
living in a zombified world - and the obvious opportunity, means and
motive for Dark Horse to have infringed upon the original comic property.)
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Jeff Albertson
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 1:09pm | IP Logged | 13  

I find it hard to believe that Dark Horse would do such a thing, simply because it is so similar and your friends project has already gotten some press.  It could be simple audacity, I guess, but I don't see Mike Richardson, who has successfully kept a diverse company going for 20+ years doing something so stupid.  It's definitely a public relations problem, though, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him drop the book to avoid the publicity. 

But I agree that if your friends genuinely think they have been wronged, they need to consult an attorney to explore their options.  Not to do so would be foolish.


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Brian Hunt
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 3:50pm | IP Logged | 14  

I agree with Mr. Al Cook. 
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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 4:16pm | IP Logged | 15  

FYI - "Shaun of the Dead" came out in 2004. 

FYI I know when Shaun of the Dead came out. Dark Horse's comic didn't come out till 2004 or later. So they can argue the point that it was an inspiration or just a coincidence. I remember when Armagaddon came out another film came out at the same time about a meteor coming to destroy earth. Unless there are distinct visual liknesses involved. I believe they might be hard pressed to get a winning out come here. Also if they wanted to get legal here, Can these independent creators afford the legal battle with Dark Horse if it came to that?.
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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 4:18pm | IP Logged | 16  

 CJ wrote:
...So if the timeline above is correct, they beat Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright to this little slice of intellectual property...

 

I can say that Matthew Billman and Christopher Herndon were working on "Living With Zombies" before "Shaun of The Dead" was released in the US, and they were not aware of the movie coming out.



Edited by Matt Hawes on 06 November 2007 at 4:18pm
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Al Cook
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 4:20pm | IP Logged | 17  

"I agree with Mr. Al Cook."

Yikes! Probably not the best thing to go on record saying...
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Ted Mederson
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 4:24pm | IP Logged | 18  

No offnese to your friends, but it's a pretty generic idea - I doubt anything would hold up in court. You might as well try and lay claim to "romantic comedies".
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Al Cook
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 4:29pm | IP Logged | 19  

It's the sequence of events between the independent creators and the
approach from Dark Horse that may make this worth pursuing. Certainly no
harm in them consulting a qualified legal professional to see what they
think!
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Zaki Hasan
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 4:29pm | IP Logged | 20  

This is from Rich Johnston's latest column in regards to this issue:

Mike Richardson writes to say, "Despite the similarities, LIVING WITH THE DEAD was created with no help from the creators of LIVING WITH ZOMBIES. We are not in the business of stealing the ideas of others. Here is the e-mail I sent to the creators of the other strip:

I understand from Jeremy that you are concerned that my comic, LIVING WITH THE DEAD, may have somehow been derivative of your LIVING WITH ZOMBIES. I can see why you might jump to that conclusion when considering the similarity of subject matter, but I can assure you that your concerns are unfounded.

My only exposure to your creation came when I was approached by one of my editors some time back about a possible resemblance to an on-line comic he was interested in publishing in comic form. Because of the possible similarities, I passed on the project and purposely have not EVER looked at it.

LIVING WITH THE DEAD came about this way:

Years ago, one of the LIVING DEAD movies took place in a mall. When I saw it, It occurred to me that all the stuff in that mall was there for the taking. In fact, the whole post-apocalyptic world was full of stuff . . . buildings electronics, wine, cars, etc., waiting for the survivors. As I fashioned the actual story, it seemed that if two buddies survived, they could make lemonade out of the lemon they were handed. First, they find that they can move freely by wearing zombie disguises (zombies aren't too smart.) Their success at blending in allows them build their own paradise. The best of friends. Buddies forever. Pals to the end . . . until a girl shows up. The recent Shawn movie got me thinking about the idea again and as a result, I wrote the comic series. Writer Andy Cosby gave me the title. He thought it would be a good idea to somehow get LIVING DEAD into the title, thus LIVING with the DEAD.

Dark Horse is a company that supports creator's rights. I would never consider ripping off another creator of his/her idea. To the contrary, we have spent our own money to restore content rights to their rightful owners. Since I started Dark Horse, I have continually created stories and characters for our publications. I have plenty of ideas of my own and have no desire or need to steal content from another creator.

I hope your project does well for you, and feel free to call me anytime if you'd like to discuss.

Best,

Mike


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Al Cook
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 4:30pm | IP Logged | 21  

And Ted, I'm deeply in love with your avatar. If I asked, do you think it
would go out with me?
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Ted Mederson
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 4:44pm | IP Logged | 22  

She is wonderful, isn't she?
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Al Cook
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 4:47pm | IP Logged | 23  

I must know her name! ('Cause thinking of her as "Ted" has got me messed
up in more ways than I care to count!)
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Dave Pruitt
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 5:20pm | IP Logged | 24  

Coincidence. Tell them not to waste their money on lawyers, unless they can get one that won't take payment until/unless there's a settlement or an award.
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Gerry Turnbull
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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 5:29pm | IP Logged | 25  

both series sound like extensions of Dark Horse Zombie World comics
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