Science fiction writer Harlan Ellison has sued Fantagraphics, owners Gary Groth and Kim Thompson, and 20 un-named John Does for alleged defamation and violation of his right of publicity. The case goes back over 20 years, and feelings are obviously hard. The complaint calls Groth 'a scheming pathological liar and little more than an obsessively vindictive and petty man trying to be a mover and shaker.'
Two publications are at issue. The alleged defamation is in Comics as Art (We Told You So), a December Fantagraphics release that has been previewed on the Fantagraphics Website. The allegedly defamatory statements relate to another defamation trial, in which writer Michael Fleisher sued Ellison and Fantagraphics over statements Ellison made about him in an interview in Comics Journal in 1980 (Ellison and Fantagraphics prevailed at trial). The complaint charges that statements Groth made in the book about Ellison's conduct at the trial, including allegations about non-payment or late payment of legal fees and costs, are untrue. Or to put it in the words of the complaint, that they are 'a grotesque and ludicrous fabrication, a florid lie.'
The alleged infringement of Ellison's right to privacy relates to use of his name on the cover of Comics Journal Library 6: The Writers, which the complaint argues is a violation of his rights.
In a cover note to Journalista Dirk Deppey, Groth said that they will '...fight this vigorously.'
Looks like a street fight!