Do You Remember Rock N Roll Comics?

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Ilko Davidov's documentary film Unauthorized: The Story of Rock N Roll Comics is finally available on DVD today after having been originally released in 2005. Hopefully you remember Rock N Roll Comics, the series of illustrated unauthorized biographies that Todd Loren put out to the rage of many until he was murdered in 1992.

The books were a source of major controversy, with many artists considering them to be bootlegged merchandise. It was a somewhat debatable point, as Marvel has already had a fairly successful career doing comic books with the likes of Kiss, books which they had paid Kiss quite a bit of money to be involved with.

However, Loren's assertion was always that the comics represented illustrated biographies and nothing more. The bookshelves were flooded then, as they are now, with hundreds of unauthorized books about bands, their authors hoping to cash in on the fame of rising or established stars. That Loren had decided to do his in comic-book form is unusual, but not outside the realm of believability.

For many musicians, though, it was a source of resentment. Axl Rose famously threatened to sue Loren multiple times, and each time merely ensured the increased distribution of the offending issues. Rose, along with members of Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper as well as Lemmy, also called into question the accuracy of the comics.

They may have complained, but Loren maintained a treasure trove of bootleg recordings and rock and roll-related literature left over from his days as a mail-order vendor of music merchandise. The legends he included, such as Cooper hurling a chicken into the audience, are perfectly verifiable, and even the infamous rumor that members of Led Zeppelin used a fish to screw a groupie aren't so much untrue as overly misconstrued.

Ultimately, a federal judge ruled that Loren's comics did constitute unauthorized biographies, and that they did not violate copyright unless trademarked logos or other images were used. Subsequent issues would remove official logos.


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2 comments
Kenmeyerjr
Kenmeyerjr

Wow...I did tons of covers for this company way back when and met Loren only once before he was killed...wish I coulda been in the film!

skot
skot

Wow, interesting stuff.  I have to admit I was not aware of Loren or his work, but now I am.  Another topic for further research.  Thanks, Jef!

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