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Bad Ideas

Tintin Fans Attacked By Tintin Lawyer


Nick Rodwell, the British lawyer who married the widow of Tintin creator Hergé and now controls the Tintin estate, has embarked on a malicious crusade to sue people who use the character–even historians of the comic whose use of the character would qualify under “fair use” doctrines in the United States.

Rodwell’s latest target is Bob Garcia, “a detective novelist, jazz musician and Tintin aficionado,” who has been ordered by British courts to hand over £35,000 or face the possibility of having his house and belongings seized. His crime: writing five essays about the character. According to the UK’s Telegraph paper, “One pamphlet drew links between his twin passions — Tintin and Sherlock Holmes. Another looked at the cinematographic references in Hergé’s works. Two of the five, printed on average 500 times, used ‘graphical citations’ of Tintin drawings.”

More details from the Telegraph:

Hundreds of Tintin fans have already backed Mr Garcia, who on Thursday called for a boycott of the film and claimed that many supporters were heeding his demand. More than 500 people have joined his page on the Facebook website which expresses “anger and disgust” over the issue. More supporters have also backed his cause on other websites.

Tintin is one of the most successful comics of the 20th century, selling over 250 million copies and translated into 50 languages. Mr Rodwell’s company, Moulinsart, stands to take a huge cut from spin-offs after Steven Spielberg’s film, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, is released in 2011.

“Mr Rodwell is trying to clear the decks ahead of the film on anything or anyone who speaks about Tintin to have the absolute monopoly on the brand. For him, my studies are just spin-offs of that brand,” said Mr Garcia.

A sidenote about the lawyer Rodwell that might shed some light on his personal character. His official blog was shut down by Tintin.com last year after he started making personal attacks on journalists. One bizarre claim he made was that certain journalists disliked him because the children of those critics had autism and couldn’t appreciate Tintin. This is a link to a translation of Rodwell’s writings.

Here is the link to the Facebook page for those who wish to support Garcia (I’ve joined it myself). Below is a video of Garcia talking about one of his books on a TV show. The scholarly nature of his Tintin studies is clearly evident in the visual samples shown onscreen.

(via Boing Boing)

  • Michel Van

    just begun?

    Fanny Rodwell, the widow of Tintin creator Hergé is on crusade since 1987 !!! She sues EVERYONE worldwide like Japanese Artist Eguchi Hisashi (Rojin-Z) in 1993. He made a CD cover in Herge stil for Musikgroup TELEX and get a claim of perjury by the Hergé Foundation (HF). Eguchi won because it was homage, not a copy of Herge work.

    The only reason why Nelvana made a 100% true adaptation of Tintin into an animated television series
    was the HF Army of Lawyers behind the back of producers !

    Also Authors who look in to Hergé past, life dangerous. Especially the time of 1930-1945 and his connection to Extreme right Belgian politicals. Several books had to be remove from publishing by HF Lawyers.

    And there is Famous Belgium Sci-Fi author Alain Le Bussy who write a Spoof Novel about Tin Tin and get sue by HF. Le Bussy rewrote the Novel into “The Adventures of Qin Qin” were Qin Qin fight and Defeat the Supervillan Fanny…

  • While trying to keep a brand free of plagiarist endeavors is all well and good, this Rodwell guy sounds like a bit of a douche.

  • JP

    Uh-oh… Watch out Simpsons! (Hulu clip)

  • messy

    James Joyce’s grandson is hated by his grandfather’s fans for much the same reason.
    And Martin Luther King Jr’s kids are pretty much the same in that regard.

  • Jay Sabicer

    I hope you guys don’t get into any ‘imperial entanglements’ with the images you have on this site. Sounds like the Rodwells are looking to milk every last penny out of this franchise (I won’t call it intellectual property, since the creator is long dead). It reminds me of what Carrie Fisher said some time ago, albeit jokingly — “Every time I look in the mirror, I have to pay George Lucas two bucks.”

  • Lawyers, Creative Executives, and Bean counters taking the world down one stupid move at a time. UGH!!!!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I feel your pain too Alvarado.

  • Mike Fontanelli

    Shakespeare was right. Again.

  • Dave!

    The Thompson Twins must be cowering in fear… hold me now! :)

  • I have high functioning autism, and love and appreciate Tintin. That comment that Rodwell made was really insulting.

    Also, why are widows of famous people so vicious so often? Dr. Seuss’ widow, for one. Or Kurt Cobain’s.

  • I’ve got mixed feelings about this.

    As a fan, I believe in fair use for personal purposes. Example: someone once knitted a sweater for me – with the image of a cartoon character on it. It wasn’t made from a licensed knitting pattern – this person traced off the design herself and knitted a “one-off” sweater.

    I also don’t mind an “homage”, done in the style of a particular work. My feelings are that an homage reminds the viewer of the original – and redirects traffic that way.

    Nor do I mind excerpts of a production used for teaching or ciritical purposes. I think that “teaching” is one of the highest uses of a work.

    What I do mind is when people create unlicensed versions of a property – for profit. Whether its a knock off product or using the image of a character as a spokes-person for a third party product – that’s wrong.

    So, to my way of thinking – Nick Rodwell’s headlock on the TinTin property is questionable at best.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I feel the same way Steve is on this. My mom at one point in her life was so confident on making us costumes for Halloween, she ended up simply taking references from comic books or other merch instead of licensed patterns and created costumes like a Ninja Turtle and several members of The Simpsons for us back in the early 90’s. I consider that fair use since it was a non-profit effort and we didn’t gain more or less from it (besides candy).

    This is a blow though to people who do love Tintin very much and want to take it to a level some of us may appreciate such as with homages or research papers. Being denied such an opportunity is like being told you can’t go outside to play on a rainy day as a 6 year old. We all wanna take that plunge rather than be held back due to such questionable legalities.

  • So where do you draw the line?

    On a personal note, I created a show called Freaky Stories. It’s like “Twilight Zone for kids”. 3 short stories per half hour – each in its own style – each beginning with the phrase, “This is a true story. It happened to a friend of a friend of mine…”

    Some kids have made their own Freaky Stories videos (and stories) and posted them online – to me, that’s great. That’s fantastic. But if they took these stories, compiled them into books or DVD’s and sold them online, it would be time to call the lawyers.

  • WHile I can’t comment specifically without having a gander at the offending pamphlets, I can’t see how printing a few illustrative images from Tintin’s comics could possibily go beyond the Fair Use provisions of most copyright laws, unless the EU guidelines are radically different from the United States.

    Way to make yourself look like an ass Mr. Rodwell

  • Leeza

    How could Mr. Rodwell do this to Tintin fans? The Adventures of Tintin franchise has gained a new fan over this past Holiday Season. That happens to be me. I feel millions of Tintin fans have rights to pay homage in their own unique way(s). Mr. Rodwell should respect that type of thing.