Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the blog.
Q: How can I contact you if I have a question, comment, or suggestion?
Q: Are you looking for guest posts?
A: We very occasionally publish articles by guest authors. If you are a legal professional (e.g. an attorney, judge, or law professor) or a comic book professional (e.g. an author, editor, or illustrator) and you have an idea for a post that would be a good fit for the blog, feel free to contact us.
Q: Can you help me with a short story, novel, or game I’m writing?
A: If you are creating a work of fiction and have specific legal questions or issues, we’re generally happy to take a look.
Q: Can you review my short story, novel, or game?
A: We don’t really review books (or comics, for that matter). We aren’t critics, and we leave the reviews to the experts. However, if there are scenes or themes in your work that are legally interesting, then we can take a look at them. If your work is longer than a typical comic book, please point us to the particular scenes of interest rather than sending us an entire manuscript to review for legal issues (it happens more often than you’d think!).
Q: Can I interview you for my blog, podcast, radio show, newspaper, magazine, etc? Are you available to speak at my comic book store, comic book convention, law conference, or other event?
A: We welcome interview requests and are happy to give talks, do book signings, and participate in panel discussions at events of all kinds.
Q: Why do you bother applying real law to comics? Surely the laws in those fictional universes are different, so why not imagine what those laws might be?
A: Our goal is not to make up the law. We want to apply real law to imagined situations, which is something lawyers, law professors, and law students do all the time, just with less interesting situations and characters. The question is “What would existing law say about this situation?” and very occasionally “How would existing law need to be changed to accommodate these facts?” not “What would a fictional legal system look like given these facts?” So while we may ask what, for example, the state actor doctrine must be like in Batman’s world, we are not primarily interested in drafting entirely new laws or creating a fictional legal system. We only resort to tweaking existing law when there’s an obvious, impassable contradiction between the real law and the comic book facts.
We take the approach we do because it lets us teach people about the law and the way it works, and it gives us a chance to learn a bit about areas of the law we aren’t experts in. Furthermore, if we made up the law and the facts then the analysis would be boring (“Of course what Superman is doing is legal. This law I just invented makes it so.”). And we don’t think many of our readers would want to read pages and pages of made up statutes and cases; we certainly don’t.
Finally, in the fictional settings we write about, the authors seem to imply that the legal system is the same as it is in the real world unless they explicitly say otherwise. So unless there’s a fictional court case, law, or constitutional amendment to say differently, we feel comfortable analyzing the facts using real-world law.
Q: Why not talk about Middle Earth, Star Wars, Star Trek, or any number of other settings?
A: Comic books and related media are almost always set in what is supposed to be a world very much like this one, with the assumption being that unless something is explicitly changed in the story, it is basically like it exists in the real world. Settings like Grimm, Once Upon a Time, and True Blood are other good examples. But Star Trek and Star Wars? No. The former, like many science fiction settings, is supposed to be our world at some point in the future, but as the legal system is not recognizably our own, it falls beyond the scope of this project. It is not at all apparent that any of the laws currently in force are still applicable in any of the Star Trek series. The latter is simply not set in our world at all, so speculation about how our world’s law would apply to, say, Coruscant, Midkemia, or Middle Earth, does not really admit the same level of analysis. Which is really what we’re about: legal analysis, not legal fanfic.
Q: So why comic books in particular?
A: There are two reasons. First, they’re fun. That should be enough right there. But second, the main comic book multiverses—the DC and Marvel continuities especially—have been around for almost a century at this point and have been worked on by hundreds of people creating thousands of stories. This has resulted in settings remarkable both for their depth and their breadth, making them natural candidates for a treatment like this. They are also cultural touchstones which permit a wide variety of readers to immediately engage. Many other works are less recognizable or don’t offer enough source material to work with, but we may occasionally branch out and discuss other fictional settings.