Writer Harlan Ellison has filed a lawsuit against alternative comics publisher Fantagraphics and its co-owners Gary Groth and Kim Thompson. Groth announced the lawsuit in a statement emailed to the Fantagraphics-run comics news blog Journalista, including a 14-page PDF file of Ellison's complaint.
The author alleges that the forthcoming Fantagraphics book Comics As Art (We Told You So), written by Groth and Thompson, defames Ellison, and that they also wrongfully use his name to promote another Fantagraphics publication, The Comics Journal Library 6: The Writers. The incident has roots going back 25 years to another lawsuit in which Ellison and Fantagraphics were co-defendants in a libel suit brought by writer Mike Fleisher over disparaging comments made about him by Ellison in a Fantagraphics interview in 1980. The fallout from the incident apparently poisoned the relationship between Groth and Ellison, and Ellison's suit alleges decades of subsequent harassment by Groth and the company, described as "a tiny but hostile publishing outfit."
In his statement to Journalista, Groth declined to make a specific comment "until we confer with our attorneys, except to say that we will fight this vigorously."
Ellison, who has won multiple awards for his writing including several Hugos and Nebulas, is well-known for his contentious and sometimes litigious behavior. Previous high-profile targets of Ellison lawsuits include director James Cameron (over similarities between the film The Terminator and two Ellison stories), and AOL (over four Ellison stories posted to Usenet without his permission). In August, Ellison caused controversy at the 2006 Hugo Awards ceremony when he touched the breast of writer Connie Willis onstage; he later apologized for the incident.