DeCarlo loses out to archie again in 'Sabrina' counter-suit

Mon, May 14th, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

[Sabrina the Teenage Witch]He no longer works on the comics that he left an indelible stamp on. He lost the battle for control over a character named after his wife. And now Dan DeCarlo has lost another round against Archie Comics.

While the "Josie and the Pussycats" movie did lukewarm business at the box office, the "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" live action television show is a hit. And, as with Josie (who was named after DeCarlo's wife), DeCarlo is claiming that she too was a creation of his that he owns outright.

A New York judge disagreed, dismissing the case on May 4.

The actual creation process of Sabrina is in little question. As per the brief filed after the case was dismissed:

"DeCarlo claims that in or about 1962, working with a writer named George Gladir, he 'created the physical appearance, mannerisms, personality and 'look' of a new comic book character named 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch' which subsequently first appeared publicly in a cartoon story published by ACP in an issue of Archie's Madhouse.' DeCarlo created the original model sheet for Sabrina and personally did all of the original design and creative art work for her and various supporting characters. In short, he contends that '[t]he entire visual 'look' of the Sabrina comic books' was his creative product."

As with the previously dismissed Josie case, Judge Kaplan ruled against DeCarlo, who had tried to say an older New York state copyright law gave him control over the characters he had created. But the 1976 federal copyright law supercedes that law, and DeCarlo had failed to exercise his rights during the time allowed for such proceedings.

Since leaving Archie Comics, where he had created the house style of art familiar to readers of the series, DeCarlo has done a number of stories for Bongo Comics.

 
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