Back in the 1970s, I was shopping at a Meijers grocery store near MSU, when I saw a new innovation.  It was a bulk foods section, where you could select, scoop and weigh your own foods, nuts, candies, etc in bulk from large bulk containers. They are quite common now, but this was a first.

Hanging from the ceiling was a large yellow banner, with an obvious over-muscled body drawn in thick, Chic Stone inking style...but instead of the head of the Hulk, there was a yellow smiley face that had become so popular earlier in the decade. 

Below this obvious rip-off of the Hulk character (image) was the slogan "The Incredible BULK".

I was both amused and annoyed to see such a blatant play on words, and noted there was absolutely no copyright or trademark symbol on the banner that hung in multiple places from the rafters (the building was much like our Wal-Marts of today).

**See Note below.

Returning home with one of their fliers, a tri-folded yellow sheet of paper with the same black pen image of the smile-faced hulk body, I pulled out a sheet of lined notebook paper and a #10 envelope and addressed it to the Marvel Bullpen-- Legal Affairs Dept.  I got the address out of the letters page in the back of a Marvel comic book that I had found at a used book & comic shop. (Remember, this is during my college years, and I had forsworn comics in favor of my education, so I was buying and reading no comics. The shop, if you must know, was Ray Walsh's Curious Bookstore in East Lansing... has been imortalized in Rob Maise's "Confessions of a Cereal Eater" in the story about "Klingon Battle Helmet".)

I simply noted that I had seen this usage of the image of the Hulk to promote a non-comic related business and wondered if this was a violation of their trademark or copyright? I never heard back from Marvel, despite listing the store, address, city, and my return address.

Within two weeks, I had returned to the store twice and then noticed that all the banners were down and every scrap of "the Incredible Bulk" image was gone. The bulk food section was still there, and has become somewhat of a fixture in our society now... but all the pricing placards, the signs, the banners, the fliers...everything that had sported that image had vanished.

Carsten Meißner's photo.
 (**This isn't exactly the image of the drawing, but it give you the general idea of what they had used. It was not colored nor shaded green at all.)

What other examples of unlicensed usage of comic images have you seen?

2nd Topic:  While laying over in Seattle six years ago, a traveling companion picked up a copy of their alternative/counter-cultural newspaper "The Stranger" and handed it to me saying "Here, I thought you might like this." I put it in my bag and didn't read it until we were on the plane going home.

Several features caught my attention, and I joined their website called "Questionland". I needed an avitar, and after some thought, chose the name "O My Captain" and 'borrowed' a fanzine's obvious tribute to comic shops ("We've Got Issues") and Captain Amercia by doing a very good comic bookish parody of a comic shop owner wearing a captain america cowl. I used that for my avitar for a couple of months.  Some users caught the pairing of the name and the image and when I changed it, I got complaints!

However, last week, I went through Seattle again and picked up a copy of that Stranger newspaper's July 4th edition and found it larger and more colorful. Unfortunately Questionland has been discontinued three years earlier, but I spotted a column that is simply titled "One Hulk's Opinion".

Now, I'm more relaxed about borrowing an image in these days of the internet, but I wonder if Marvel is aware that this blogger is sporting an obvious image of the Hulk. I was drawn to the broken English speaking style that this guy uses. Though it took me a while, I realized that he really isn't really speaking in the dumb Hulk (from Tales to Astonish) speech pattern... but it's actually more of the Bizarro Superman from the mid-60s!   Take a look and tell me what you think!  Hulk or Bizarro?

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...Backing up this "____Zilla " thang...Here , just , maybe , one block over and 1%1/2 blocks down from where I sit , ow , writing this , " Iguanas " , " Home of the BurritoZilla " stands , looking like a chain resturaunt...

The way the letters are on the sign capitalize the " Z " in " Godzilla " though not on the Yelp review I am linking to...

(Note: I have never eaten there myself , just been inside though I may consume there yet...)

www.yelp.com/biz/iguanas-burritozilla-san-jose-3

...Hah !!!!!!!!!!! I meant " I may consume FOOD WITHIN there " when I wrote the above , but , given what we're speaking of here...........

  Oh , and the " BurritoZilla " is a secondary thing IIRC one the signage , it's more: " Iguanas home of the BurritoZilla " !!!

If it wasn't too expensive, I'd be tempted to think the burritos were made with iguana meat.

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...Hah !!!!!!!!!!! I meant " I may consume FOOD WITHIN there " when I wrote the above , but , given what we're speaking of here...........

  Oh , and the " BurritoZilla " is a secondary thing IIRC one the signage , it's more: " Iguanas home of the BurritoZilla " !!!

Your link may be unauthorized, but it's entirely legal. It's a satirical image, so no problem. They don't *need* authorization for it. (Although I have to say, given the reputation you're getting, I had to brace myself for what might be on the other end of a Kirk G. link with that kind of lead-up!)

The places that are really frustrating are when books are published about super-heroes that talk about specific situations and would really benefit from showing the panels or examples of what they're talking about. The Science of Super-Heroes kind of thing.

But some publishers are so scared of Marvel and DC's lawyers that they either don't.use any images from the comics at all, or they ask permission to do so--when they don't have to--and are turned down, so they don't use them.

The editors on my BBC book were concerned that Marvel or DC might make problems, since I talk mostly about their comics. But their lawyers said they had no worries, because we weren't specifically one or the other, and all we showed were covers or single panels in discussions about those issues.

Whereas Brian Saner Lamken put out a huge book-like issue of his Comicology as a Kingdom Come Companion in 1999 without DC's permission (allegedly), and they made him stop selling it. It's too bad, because it has my all-time favorite index listing: Shuster, Joe; Shutt, Craig; Siegel, Jerry.

-- MSA

I've got an essay coming up in a book about Spider-Man, where I included a couple of panels demonstrating what I was talking about. As you say, MSA, the publisher didn't even try to get them OK'd, and instead I had to re-write the essay to include quotes from the panels.

I think I have that book. That explains why I never see any reference to it!!
Does that make it rare?


Brian Saner Lamken put out a huge book-like issue of his Comicology as a Kingdom Come Companion in 1999 without DC's permission (allegedly), and they made him stop selling it. It's too bad, because it has my all-time favorite index listing: Shuster, Joe; Shutt, Craig; Siegel, Jerry.

-- MSA

As you say, MSA, the publisher didn't even try to get them OK'd, and instead I had to re-write the essay to include quotes from the panels.

That's SO irritating! Quoting from panels is nowhere near as good as showing them. Maybe they figure, as a book solely on Spider-Man, they might be in trouble, but I'm pretty sure they weren't if it was only a few panels and they were being discussed with a lot of text. Publishers really do themselves a lot of harm that way.

Does that make it rare?

In the immortal (until someone changes them) words of Wikipedia: "The recall made the Companion arguably the most difficult Kingdom Come item to find." 

You can buy it from sellers at Amazon, but it'll cost you 50 bucks.

-- MSA

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