Dead Kid Takedown

I guess it’s no surprise, the “Dead Kid” T-shirt design at TeePublic has been issued a takedown order.

The art in question is a little doodle I made a few years ago I called “Dead Kid.” It looks like this:

So it’s clearly a riff on “C.B.,” the famous carton character. We could argue pretty easily that this is a parody, since I’m fairly certain no one would confuse this image with any of those available from Peanuts Worldwide LLC. Which company, I might add, represents the work of one the world’s greatest cartoonists. The influence of Mr. Schulz and his contributions to the field cannot be questioned without strenuous objection from those with fine taste and an appreciation for works of quality.

The design of “Dead Kid” was by no means a commentary on such work. The decision to put the recognizable “zig zag” shirt and the suggestion of curly hair on the head were purely motivated by the spirit of Dada: to include such a iconic visual touch on an otherwise “creepy” image is an exercise in random juxtaposition with the aim of creating a surprising, off-putting feeling.

And, as with most surrealism, this creates a “crisis” in the viewer, whereby a familiar and comforting image is crossed with something distressing or indistinct. It’s a classic technique. But possibly of very little interest to the copyright holders.

I understand the instinct. My own designs from TeePublic, chiefly the one called “CHAWGLIT,” have been purloined and used by less talented people on their own POD sites. I am not powerful enough to issue takedown statements, but as the disreputable thief had simply downloaded and reused my original artwork without alteration or adjustment (certainly this was no parody!) I did issue my own pathetic injunction, toothless though it was. I am on your side, Peanuts Worldwide, LLC, although I think you misunderstand me greatly.

Luckily enough, a few brave souls had purchased the design in question, and – I sincerely hope – are sporting their “Dead Kid” T-shirts even now.

And who knows, the design may have gone up somewhere else. Like maybe another (red) T-shirt company (bubble) out there. You might find it by searching for it. Be sure to include “dead” and “kid” though, it might be easier to find that way.

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