beaterbar wrote:On first read, this quote seemed ambiguous to me, and still slightly does. If he miscalculated, he was aware of their existence, and if he was aware of their existence then there was either tacit or real ascent to their use. I don't feel like sitting around and reading about Bill Watterson's feelings, which should be clear from my point about how in my opinion the calvin pissing on things works are a bit of a travesty of justice if he didn't approve of them.
"For starters, I clearly miscalculated how popular it would be to show Calvin urinating on a Ford logo. . . . Actually, I wasn't against all merchandising when I started the strip, but each product I considered seemed to violate the spirit of the strip, contradict its message, and take me away from the work I loved. If my syndicate had let it go at that, the decision would have taken maybe 30 seconds of my life."
On a second read, however, it seems evident that one could use Watterson's own words to make a parody case for the pissing logos. If they are contradictory to the spirit, then they aren't copies, replicas, or homages, and if they aren't any of those there isn't much left for them to be but parodies. The 'contrary to spirit' argument was exactly what angered coolio about wierd al's parody of 'gangster's paradise' and is precisely why it was a parody.
However, Weird Al also asks permission before parodying work. Presumably he got said permission from the people who, at the root, owned coolio's song. Which wasn't coolio. Coolio rapped over it. The song wasn't his.
Anyway, you're forcing more meaning that doesn't exist into a quote when there is a far more clear one:
"And making the whole issue even more absurd, when I didn't license, bootleg 'Calvin and Hobbes' merchandise sprung up to feed the demand. Mall stores openly sold T-shirts with drawings illegally lifted from my books, and obscene or drug-related shirts were rife on college campuses. Only thieves and vandals have made money on 'Calvin and Hobbes' merchandise."
Which says, simply, that if you are making money off of merchandise based off Calvin and Hobbes, you are, to the eyes of Mr. Watterson (and hopefully the eyes of the world) a thief and/or a vandal.
Illegal. Obscene. I'd say that well covers people using calvin to piss on things. Parody, you'll note, is a defense, not a rule. You can scream parody all night long, but it does not mean you won't get sued successfully.
In the case of the woot design, there is no parody. I could totally picture Calvin sneaking up on Hobbes. I could totally picture Hobbes "eating" Calvin to shut him up. I picture his mouth puffy, calvin shouting inside it, and hobbes just looking nonchalantly saying something about how tigers are superior. There's nothing about the piece that couldn't be in an anthology, INCLUDING the cave drawing style. Watterson ALWAYS worked with imagination and styles that fit it. In the case of the PissCalvins, it could easily be seen as offensive, obscene, and by existing they imply that Watterson is supporting that nonsense. Parody would be the defense, but it would likely mean nothing if someone could prove that the work was too similar, and potentially clouded the judgment of people who would see Calvin and Hobbes as much more lewd and obscene than it ever was. which would be an easy prove, really.
This goes beyond parody, though. If you are an artist, and you are using work that another artist does not desire you to use, what does that say about who you are as a person?
If my friend came over my house and said "man, I'm thirsty," and I said "help yourself. Just don't touch the champagne." Would I be justified in being angry if he popped that cork? Would he be a total jerk if he did? Of course. But if I said that I didn't want the champagne touched because I was saving it to celebrate my girlfriend getting a huge promotion the other day, and he STILL used it? That guy is a total tool, and I'd be justified in kicking him out of my house, right? Watterson says, flat out, that he doesn't want his work licensed FOR HIMSELF, let alone anyone else's profit. He says that no one has legally profited off Calvin and Hobbes (outside, obviously, from the books). He insists that he feels the work would be cheapened if it was sold in some other form. Read the other quotes in the area where you got the one you like from. It's pretty clear. He's saying "it means a lot to me to keep this pure." Ramy is saying "who cares?" There is only one conclusion you can draw from that.