Attorney and avid comic dealer Mark Zaid stopped by the University of Miami’s School of Law on Oct. 1 to discuss the intricate relationship between law and pop culture, particularly dealing with comics.
Zaid, who is also the owner of Esquire Comics, almost seems like a modern-day superhero as he specializes in matters of national security and defending the rights of federal employees. In Zaid’s lecture, “Superheroes in the Courtroom: Law, Lawyers and Comic Books,” he overviewed the history of comics and the influence of law in their creation and growth.
However, Zaid managed to put an interesting twist in the lecture; he not only focused on legal actions taken by and against comic companies, but also how comics often introduced law into their story lines. Many characters held surprising roles in the legal profession; the Vigilante was a district attorney and later a judge as he fought crime at night; the She Hulk was a lawyer by day.
He later discussed the role of lawyers in the battle for patents and copyrights. As superheroes evolved into more well-known and profitable characters, there were many companies trying to stake a claim in their success. Lawyers were there to defend the creators’ rights to the characters and story lines as well as preventing censorship regarding a comic’s content.
Comics’ self-regulation wouldn’t have been possible without the help of lawyers. If comics hadn’t avoided government censorship, they could have lost their voice and presence in pop culture, as Zaid mentioned in his lecture.
Zaid allowed students to see the many ways laws influence pop culture and managed to excite some students about the possibilities in law.
UM student Alyssa Williams enjoyed how different this discussion was from most of the others presented by UM’s School of Law.
“It was a nice change,” she said. “My favorite superhero is Captain America as of right now!”