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Comic Book Law 101

Level: Beginner
Runtime: 63 minutes
Recorded Date: September 08, 2021
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  • Comic Books Industry Overview
  • Creation
  • Publication
  • Distribution
  • Promotion
  • Adaptation
Runtime: 1 hour, 3 minutes
Recorded: September 8, 2021

Difficulty: Newly Admitted and Experienced Attorneys (Transitional)


The practice of comic book law might seem simple upon first glance. After all, comics are just silly books for kids, right? This is far from the truth. This panel will explore the comic book industry, its place in greater pop culture, and the key legal issues attorneys practicing in this area should know. Topics covered will include publishing contracts, option agreements, and intellectual property rights in the comic book industry.

This program was recorded on September 8th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Matthew N. Sugarman

Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corp.

Matthew N. Sugarman is a shareholder in the Firm’s entertainment practice group. Matthew’s practice focuses on the representation of writers, actors, directors, producers and commercial, management and production companies in motion picture, television and digital media. Matthew has also worked extensively in connection with the development, financing, production, distribution, licensing and acquisition of audio-visual productions in all media. His practice also includes merchandising, endorsements, and print publishing.

Matthew has served as a member of both the Syllabus Committee of the USC Institute for Entertainment Law and Business and the Entertainment Industry Leadership Institute of The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles. In addition, he is actively involved with several charities including the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, and is an avid science fiction, fantasy and comic book reader.

Prior to attending law school, Matthew helped to found the business and legal affairs department at Walden Media in New York City, worked on the advance team for Bill Bradley’s 2000 U.S. Presidential campaign, participated in the investment banking trainee program at a top Wall Street investment house and served as a Page in the U.S. Senate.

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R.J. Inawat

Polarity LTD

R.J. Inawat joined Polarity in 2018 as Counsel. R.J. works in support of Shonagh Clements to build and execute on legal activities, contract negotiation, intellectual property and business contracts, across the Polarity portfolio.

R.J. has expertise spanning many facets of the entertainment industry. In his independent legal practice, R.J. focuses on entertainment law, soft intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets), contract law and business/entity formation. R.J. has held legal roles at multiple firms including The Bradford Group, Music Dealers, Entertainment Law Office, Parikh Law Group, as well as in multiple Clerkships.

R.J. is a DePaul University alumnus, having earned his Bachelor of Music in Performing Arts Management with minors in Management and Business Administration in 2005 as well as his Juris Doctor in 2013, and he continues to perform throughout the Chicagoland area as a freelance classical pianist.

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Gamal Hennessy

Creative Contract Consulting

I am an experienced commercial contracts attorney with expertise in publishing and IP licensing. During my career, I’ve represented major corporate clients including AfterShock, Amazon, Marvel, and Viacom as well as independent creative professionals and start-up companies.

Central Park Media gave me my first real taste of entertainment contracts. As general counsel of a startup publishing company, I acted as the sole owner of all drafting and negotiating of international IP licenses, work for hire agreements, and statements of work associated with anime and manga production. Our catalog included everything from the painfully tragic Grave of the Fireflies to the infamous Legend of the Overfiend and everything in between.

In 2002, Marvel brought me in to handle their new international publishing department. My main function was helping Marvel break into the Japanese market, but I also initiated, negotiated, drafted, and managed compliance for international licenses associated with Marvel entertainment IP. This work covered consumer goods, film, interactive media, and publishing in Europe, South America, and the Middle East. In addition, I drafted many of the exclusive talent deals Marvel began to set up around the time Ultimates began to gain traction. I left Marvel soon after the Ultimates, X-men, and Spider-Man deals were established in Japan.

After Marvel, I launched my own practice to serve independent IP creators and freelance artists with their business development, contracts, and licensing issues. I’ve given lectures with the American Bar Association, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and New York Law School. My clients also include technology startups including GlobalComix and Zoop.

In 2020, I published a book called The Business of Independent Comic Book Publishing as a comprehensive guide on the business and legal aspects of the independent comic book industry. I am currently working on the follow-up book, The Business of Freelance Comic Book Publishing, which is scheduled for publication in the Fall of 2022.

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