‘Darkchylde’ Artist Randy Queen Threatens Legal Action Against Tumblr That Criticized His Art
You may remember artist Randy Queen from his mid-90s creator-owned series Darkchylde, about a young woman whose nightmares become real, and the many, many mentions of his name in Wizard magazine. You may also be familiar with the Tumblr Escher Girls, which is dedicated to pointing out exceedingly unrealistic portrayals of women in comics. If so, maybe you have an idea where this is going.
Throughout its existence, Escher Girls has published its share of Queen drawings with commentary about the strange poses found therein. A bunch of them are still viewable on the Internet Wayback Machine. They’re not on the site itself any more, though, because Queen reported those posts to Tumblr, claiming they violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He then took his anger against the Tumblr even further.
Escher Girls’ editor Ami Angelwings posted an image of the takedown notice from Tumblr:
She also wrote:
To date, Mr. Queen is the only artist who has taken this kind of action – other artists and publishers seem to understand Escher Girls & other similar sites are fair use and criticism, and that fan discussion, positive or negative, is important and helpful to their business.
Queen apparently asked Tumblr to remove that post, too. It’s still up, but all the reblogs of it have been removed.
According to TechDirt, Queen also threatened to sue the blog for defamation. Here’s the text of an email reportedly sent by Queen to Ami Angelwings:
I would encourage you to put a stop to all of this. I have no problem getting legal involved for defamation, and for your various allegations on your takedown notice thread, and am happy to send a formal cease and desist letter from my lawyer.
Instead of simply removing the content you do not have the right to electronically distribute, you wish to push further, and publicly challenges my right to protect the perception of my IP as it exists today.
At this point, I will ask you to please move along, as no good will come of this.
Additionally, instead of taking shots at art someone did 18 years ago while they were still learning – which are no longer representative of their current art style or direction for their character – I encourage you to spend your time and energy on creating your own characters and comics which you can mkae your own personal sacrifices to bring to the world.
In another reply, Queen reportedly said:
Instead of simply removing the content you do not have the right to electronically distribute, you wish to persist in character assassination, and alleged abuse of copyright claims via armchair lawyers.
Let’s say I take someone’s old copyrighted photography and ‘corrected’ it for them, as well as posted disparaging comments to circulate along with what may be someone’s first exposure to the work. Guess what? I don’t have the right to do that, it’s not my content. And based on the comments in this thread, it’s an easy argument to make that it is damaging.
Queen’s reaction to the initial Escher Girls posts and its post about his takedown requests have earned the artist considerable criticism. It seems likely that Escher Girls’ posts fall under fair use, though the outcome of a test case is impossible to guess at. Queen threatened a defamation suit rather than a copyright suit, but many of his objections centered on a perceived violation of his rights.
Queen now seems to realize that the situation is not playing out in his favor, and has issued the following statement via Facebook:
Just wanted to clear up a few things that happened this past week. I have been having a very hard time in my personal life with the loss of my mother and my marriage having fallen apart and found myself in a very vulnerable and fragile state of mind. There were posts on the web criticizing my artwork that were brought to my attention and added to my stress. I reacted without thinking it through, but have now stopped, realizing my response was the wrong one to take. I am doing my best, each day, to get myself back on my feet and getting my life in a better place and realize now that I have just try to move on and get back to my art, the thing I find the most joy in these days. I want to thank those professionals, friends and family who have been giving me their support, understanding and love.
This presumably means that Queen no longer intends to pursue legal action, in which case the whole incident may serve only to illustrate how not to respond to online criticism.