LNH/META: Villains!

Russ Allbery eagle at eyrie.org
Thu Nov 3 20:23:43 PDT 2011

Tom Russell <joltcity at gmail.com> writes:

> That's why I weighed so strongly recently with Dave & Rob on the issue
> of characters who are in that fuzzy gray area; I think unless a
> character has been specifically given to the public domain, specifically
> entrusted to another creator (like Limp-Asparagus Lad was to Saxon), or
> unless permission has been specifically obtained from their creator,
> should they still be on the internet-- I believe that we should let them
> go, both in any reboot/threeboot/ultimatization and (I know this is
> radical) in the mainstream LNH continuity.

> I understand the point of view of writing someone else's characters is a
> show of respect for that creator and their creation.  I even agree with
> it, and have been touched by the way, for example, people have latched
> onto WikiBoy.  But here's the thing: I was there when it happened, and I
> put him in the public domain for people to use.  Whereas when I came
> back to RACC and found out that such-and-such had happened to some of my
> old Teenfactor characters at the hands of Mr. Wiley, I was a bit
> miffed.  What he did to them, against my explicit permission, while I
> was on RACC is a whole 'nother story.

Indeed, we have had this happen before (some time ago).  A writer wrote a
(quite excellent, in terms of story quality) story about a separate LNH
universe, in this case a Golden Age one, and used versions of various old
LNH characters.  One of them was from an author who hadn't been reading
RACC for quite some time.  When he found out how a variant of his
character was used in that story, he was REALLY UPSET.  Deeply, deeply
hurt and offended.

It's always worth remembering that in the early days of the LNH, many of
the characters were writer-characters: intentional projections of the
person into the fictional universe, sharing many of their personal
characteristics.  This means that using one of those characters can go
rather far beyond just feeling upset about misuse of one's intellectual
property or about characters who one has put a lot of thought and time
into.  It can feel like a personal assault, particularly if the character
is portrayed as doing something that the author would have found
personally offensive or objectionable.  And it doesn't necessarily matter
that it was a version of themselves they created 15 or 20 years ago.

The point of all this is to have fun and entertain each other with
stories.  Using one particular character or another in that is mostly a
matter of convenience.  Even if one gets a Really Great idea, there are
always more ideas.  I don't think a story is worth the risk of seriously
hurting someone; erring on the side of caution is just a lot safer and
more comfortable.

Russ Allbery (eagle at eyrie.org)              <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

More information about the racc mailing list