The popular comic book Hack/Slash has fallen victim to a cease and desist order sent to Diamond Comic Distributors. Normally, this wouldn’t merit the slightest attention at Papers, save that the reason surrounds one of Lovecraft’s most posthumously popular characters.
Issues 15, 16 and 17 of Hack/Slash were a crossover in which the main characters, Cassie and Vlad, meet Herbert West. The publisher, Devil’s Due Publishing, had gotten permission from Brian Yuzna, director of the Re-Animator films, for the usage of the character and trademark. (Yes, “Herbert West – Re-Animator” is public domain, but the likenesses of movie characters and specific plot points from the movie are not.) Now it appears that a company called “Re-Animator LLC” is claiming the rights to the “Re-Animator” trademark in a wide variety of formats – not just comic books, but novels, script books, reference books, fiction book series, board games, action figures, theatrical performances, and even roleplaying games.
Nobody’s really quite sure who’s behind Re-Animator LLC. It’s a Delaware-based corporation that seems to have been registering trademark claims for a few years now, with the help of a noted lawyer with a specialty in comics law. Brian Yuzna seems to know nothing about them, and I have no idea of they relate to any of the claimants for Lovecraft’s works.
My understanding is that the trademarks only prevent people from mentioning Re-Animator in marketing materials, instead of serving as a blanket ban on Herbert West’s use anywhere. Still, I’m not a lawyer.