On the subject of advice for aspiring webcomickers:
In December 2005 I was 17 years old and consumed with being a cartoonist. My father knew Achewood was my favorite comic, and bought me the five self-published volumes of it that were then available for me as a Christmas present. He told me later that he had informed Chris Onstad that his daughter was an aspiring cartoonist, and asked him to give me some advice.
When I received the five books, they had these five lessons drawn into them. I was touched, ecstatic, inspired. (Plus, they were really funny). Even if it was jokey, self-deprecating advice, it seemed to me to convey something real: “Don’t take advice like this too seriously. You can do it anyway.” There was a kindness to the effort and consideration put into this, and it meant something to me. It still does.
I still think about them when making my own comics. I consider these books a great treasure of mine. (Although I ignored lesson five completely.)
Loomis, Copyright, and You
Andrew Loomis. Many artists—myself included—have benefited from his homespun wisdom and his practical approach to drawing. Indeed, his books are frequently offered for download by sites like Save Loomis. Until recently, that is: the long-out-of-print books are being republished by Titan Publishing, which is taking action against free downloads of the Loomis classics. Does Titan have the right to do this? Yes, for at least twenty years from now. I explain why below.
There’s a lot of confusion on art forums about the copyright status of Loomis’s books. Much of that confusion probably goes away when we consider that copyright law all depends on when the work was copyrighted. So the people saying that Loomis’s copyrights last until 70 years after his death (that is, 2029) would be correct if his books were created in 1978 or later. 17 U.S.C. § 302. They were not, obviously. Rather, we must look to 17 U.S.C. § 304, which governs earlier works.
That section makes reference to copyrights in their “first term” and “renewal term.” What does that mean? To find out, we must look to the Copyright Act of 1909, the second of three major changes to U.S. copyright law over history. Under the 1909 regime, a copyright lasted 28 years. If you wanted a longer term than that, you (or your heirs, or more likely, the schlub you had sold your renewal rights to) were required to renew your copyright with the US Copyright Office during the final year of your copyright. Pub.L. 60-349, § 23. Any sooner (before exactly 27 years had passed) and your renewal was ineffective. Any later (after exactly 28 years had passed) and it was too late—your work fell into the public domain. Some of the finer details changed along the way, but for the most part that was how the system worked until it was replaced by the Copyright Act of 1976 (which gave us the life + 70 years rule.) Here’s a picture to illustrate the 1909 Act system:
Conveniently for us, all of Loomis’s books were published and copyrighted while the 1909 Act was still around. What does that mean? Well, now we can return to 17 U.S.C. § 304. Copyrights that were in their “first term”—meaning their original, 28-year term—on January 1, 1978 are controlled by § 304(a). Specifically, § 304(a)(1)(A) provides that such copyrights “endure for 28 years from the date [they were] originally secured.” But then, § 304(a)(1)(B) and (C) allow the author, his heirs, or another proprietor of the copyright to renew the copyright “for the further term of 67 years.” Assuming the renewal is done, then, copyrights that are old enough to predate the 1976 Act—but young enough to be in their first term on January 1, 1978—will last for 28 + 67 = 95 years from their inception.
What about copyrights that are older than that? Then we look to 17 U.S.C. § 304(b): “Any copyright still in its renewal term at the time that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act becomes effective shall have a copyright term of 95 years from the date copyright was originally secured.” The effective date of that Act is October 27, 1998. But what’s the “renewal term”? Well, under the 1909 Act, renewing your copyright got you an additional 28 years on top of the first term. Then the 1976 Act came along and bumped that up to 47 years.
Interestingly, this means that any work published before 1923 is no longer protected by copyright. A work that was copyrighted on January 1, 1923 would have lasted until January 1, 1951. If you renewed it, then under the 1909 Act your copyright would have been good until January 1, 1979. But then the 1976 Act cropped up and did two things: first, it pushed out the end of your copyright to January 1, 1998. Second, it further extended your copyright to the end of the calendar year in which the term would otherwise run out. 17 U.S.C. § 305. So your copyright’s renewal term would end not on January 1, 1998, but on December 31, 1998—just barely coming within the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.
The upshot of all this is that any work published between January 1, 1923 (the last date ‘rescued’ by the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act) and January 1, 1978 (when the new system took over) may be copyrighted for as long as 95 years after registration. This is true whether the copyright was still in its first term in 1978 (in which case we apply § 304(a)) or if the copyright was under a renewal term in that year (in which case we apply § 304(b)).
To reiterate, all of Loomis’s books fall within this date range. Accordingly, so long as their copyrights have been renewed—which we can look up online—they are still protected by copyright. Furthermore, we can calculate the date on which they will no longer be protected—barring, of course, even more copyright term extensions. 17 U.S.C. § 304 gives us the year when a copyright on a pre-1978 work runs out, and § 305 gives us the month and day. Applying these sections together gives us:
- Fun With a Pencil: Registered May 8, 1939. Renewed November 22, 1966. Copyright will last until December 31, 2034.
- Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth: Registered June 28, 1943. Renewed July 6, 1970. Copyright will last until December 31, 2038.
- Creative Illustration: Registered September 15, 1947. Renewed October 2, 1974. Copyright will last until December 31, 2042.
- Successful Drawing: Registered January 11, 1951. Renewed August 16, 1979. Copyright will last until December 31, 2046.
- Drawing the Head and Hands: Registered January 18, 1956. Renewed March 28, 1984. Copyright will last until December 31, 2051.
- Three-Dimensional Drawing: Registered April 21, 1958. Renewed March 11, 1986. Copyright will last until December 31, 2053. (Assuming the Post-Cyberpocalypse doesn’t happen by then.)
- The Eye of the Painter and the Elements of Beauty: Registered May 11, 1961. Renewed January 23, 1989. Copyright will last until December 31, 2056.
Is it really necessary for Loomis’s copyrights to last so long? That’s a policy question that other people have written extensively on, and I do not address it here. I will say to buy the books if you like them, and whether you prefer Loomis or Hogarth or Vilppu, never underestimate the value of a good art instruction book.
Frills are tough for a lot of people to draw. But I think you just have to approach them right. Like a wall, a frill is one continuous, more or less flat piece; it curves in on itself a lot, but it always has a front side and a back side, relative to the viewer. As long as you draw in a convincing hem line and then draw lines back to the base, you can probably do a passable frill.
Nomenclature-Kwiz: Thoroughbred Racehorse or Steam Greenlight Submission?
1. Olympia Rising
2. Silver Knight
3. First Samurai
4. Double Trigger
5. Plunger Lunger
6. Majestic Prince
7. Don’t Push It
8. Shadow Hunter
9. Koala Kid
10. Soda Star
11. Squirtle Squirt
12. War Emblem
15. Just a Game
16. Nimble Spark
17. Highland Blade
18. Dream Alliance
19. Panty Raid
20. Odyssey Reborn
Horse: 3, 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19
Game: 1, 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 20
Cute Lawyers #51: Extracurriculars
I regret to inform you all that my laptop’s GPU, after over two years of service and a reflow or two, has finally given up the ghost. While this makes games much more interesting to play, it also unfortunately makes it a little difficult to work on Cute Lawyers.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m going inactive. I’ve already secured a replacement laptop, and by any objective standard it’s an upgrade. However, I am also out of town and away from my Manga Studio discs, meaning that for the time being I won’t be able to use the new laptop to make comics in the same manner as I did this one.
So what am I going to do now? For the time being, I’ll probably find a way to continue Cute Lawyers using other tools, such as SAI or Clip Studio. Otherwise, I’ll just do some filler art, things of that nature. Either way, your patience is appreciated. Thanks for reading!