Nate the Great v. Emily the Strange in Comic Book Battle


     TUCSON (CNS) - The author and illustrator of the "Nate the Great" books claim the creators and publishers of "Emily the Strange" comic books violated copyright. Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Marc Simont, who have collaborated on the "Nate the Great" series since 1972, say that Cosmic Debris Etc., Chronicle Books, and Dark Horse Entertainment stole the look, mannerisms, and even written descriptions of the recurring character Rosamond to create Emily the Strange.
     Emily is a dark-haired Goth-girl who has been used to market skateboards, comic books and other merchandise since the early 1990s.
     Cosmic Debris tried to head off this lawsuit in May. It sued Sharmat and Simont, asking that they be restrained from claiming that Emily the Strange infringes on the Nate the Great copyright.
     Cosmic Debris claimed it created the Emily character in 1991 and that she is just one of several archetypical dark-haired, morbid girls in a black dress, such as Morticia from the "The Addams Family" and Wynona Ryder's character Lydia from the film "Beetlejuice."
     Rosamond, a young girl with "long dark hair (and) long square-cut bangs, who typically wears a short dress, Mary Jane-type shoes, and black tights" has appeared along with her four black cats in every Nate the Great book since the series began, according to the federal complaint filed in Tucson, where the 80-year-old Sharmat lives.
Rosamond is always described by Nate - an amateur detective and the hero of the 26-book series - as "strange", and has a fascination with "dark themes," the lawsuit states.
     "Emily the Strange, like Rosamond, is a young girl in a short dress, black tights, and Mary Jane shoes. Emily, like Rosamond, has long dark hair with square-cut bangs. Emily, like Rosamond, is typically attended by four black cats. Emily, like Rosamond, is described as being strange and has a fascination with dark themes," according to the complaint.
     The plaintiffs seek a declaration that their copyright has been infringed and unspecified damages. Also named as defendants are Robert Reger, Buzz Parker and Nathan Carrico.
     The plaintiffs are represented by Deanna Conn and Michael Curley with Quarles & Brady.