BIC Is Looking For Your Superheroes - But The More I Looked Into It, The More Problematic It Got

BIC is running an art competition with VIP Comic Con Africa prizes - but there are huge caveats. Make sure you read the fine print very carefully and are properly informed before you enter your artwork. Here's why.

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 22 August 2019
Category: Features Comments View Comments


The BIC superheroes

Stationery company BIC is running an art competition that's offering a VIP prize package to attend this year's Comic Con Africa convention, which will be taking place in Johannesburg on the (long) weekend of 21 to 24 September 2019 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.

The competition is inviting any South African citizens or legal residents over the age of 13 (if aged 13 to 18, then with parental consent) to draw their favourite superhero using BIC products and then submit a photograph or scan of the artwork for consideration for the prize. There are no restrictions on artistic ability or experience - you can be a complete novice or a professional.

The VIP prize package comprises:
• One set of double tickets to Comic Con Africa (in other words, you and a friend)
• An autograph and photo opportunity with your favourite celebrity
• Access into the convention at super speed
• Access to the exclusive VIP lounge
• Free snacks and drinks at your fingertips
• A Comic Con Africa goodie bag with loads of fun stuff
• All flights and transportation to and from the convention

It sounds exciting but there are some very important pieces of information buried in the terms and conditions that most people who have already entered the competition have missed.

First, under point 10 of the rules, is this:

"An entrant's entry must not include: any image of any other person without that person's express consent. Entrants warrant that if any such content is included, they have obtained the express consent of the relevant person"

and this:

"An entrant's entry must not include: any literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, any audio-visual or sound recording, or any other item in which intellectual property rights such as trademark, or copyright subsists, unless the entrant is entitled to do so. If an entrant has any doubts about whether they have the right to include any content they must not include it. By including any such content in their entry, the entrant warrants that they have the permission of the relevant copyright owner to do so and that this permission allows the Promoter to use the entry in accordance with these Terms."

What this means is that unless you have permission from, say, Marvel to draw a picture of Captain America, or from DC to draw a picture of Batman, you cannot enter an artwork featuring these characters, or any other fandom characters, including Naruto, Black Panther, Spider-man, Superman, and so forth. If it's a character that you did not create, then you don't have permission. You will have to get permission from the person or corporation that created or owns the character.

You also cannot try to circumvent this rule by, say, drawing a picture of Chris Evans as Captain America unless you have his permission to draw a picture of him.

Artworks that have been entered into the competition that are on display in the gallery
Above: These competition submissions, while fantastic, may, or may not be, permissible.
I specifically queried both these issues (superhero IPs and actors) with the organisers and received, via a third party, the following response from someone in either marketing or legal, which was duplicated as an answer for both questions. I am reproducing it here verbatim - there's no editing (even of grammatical errors and so forth) because I don't want to be accused of misinterpreting this:

"The entrants must not use any DC comic characters or heroes as it was presented in the movies - of course they can draw and send, however BIC will choose to display those figures in any commercial platforms or collaterals then BIC must obtain DC consent - therefore we can judge and award those unique drawings as long as we are not going to commercialize"

Of course, this answer seems to contradict what the rules say and seem to imply that it is ok to send through these types of artworks and that the only snag is that BIC then can't commercialise the art.

Er... what now?

Let's have a look at point 12 in the rules to find out more:

"As a condition of entering in this Competition, the entrants as authors exclusively assign to the organizer all proprietary rights with respect to their content, photo or entry (“Work”), including the rights of representation, reproduction, scanning and adaptation of it for whatever purposes (commercial and or non-commercial purposes), without compensation, royalty, attribution or liability. This assignment transfer is granted for worldwide operation, for the maximum legal term of the copyright protection and its assigns. The Promoter may freely reproduce and adapt and modify the Work or extracts of it by any existing or incoming process of material fixing on any support, in any format and may freely distribute, represent or have the work be represented to the public by any means, for any direct or indirect means. This assignment of his rights is granted by the entrant to the Promoter free of charge. Each entrant warrants to the Promoter full enjoyment of the assigned rights against any trouble, claim or any eviction and undertakes not granting of any transfer of rights to third parties on its Work."

Essentially what this means is that by entering the competition you are giving away the copyright of your work to BIC, whether or not you win. Since BIC seems to be thinking about commercialising the art, which means finding a way to profit from it (and you will not), I would advise against this. You should never give up your copyright unless you are being very, very well compensated for the work you produce or it's part of your contract as a full-time employee of a company.

The choice is yours, however.

When I asked what people should be drawing if they can't draw actors and they can't draw existing superheroes, I was given the following response:

"The entrants are encouraged to make up their own superheroes, and, if they have used a superhero from DC/Marvel, then ipso facto they have already obtained consent. The point of the competition is to encourage creativity and imagination, using BIC® Stationery. For example, an entrant can draw a picture of their teacher, parent or sibling in a superhero costume as an entry."

(Don't forget that you would have to get permission from that teacher/parent/sibling to reproduce his/her likeness.)

On the face of it this it seems that the intention of this competition, which was not communicated properly if you look at the existing entries in the gallery, which are almost all DC and Marvel superheroes, was to encourage artists to look for real-life "superheroes" around them and depict them as such. You can imagine a young boy seeing his older brother doing good in the community and therefore drawing him as a superhero or a young girl being inspired by an amazing teacher who is another type of superhero and drawing a fun interpretation of that.

Unfortunately, when you dive into the rules, as you have just seen, it's not so fun (or clear) anymore. The rules are confusing, the answers I received contradicted the rules (I would go with what the rules say), and the transferring of copyright is a big red flag for me.

The competition closes on 31 August 2019. Should you still wish to enter, make sure you read all the terms and conditions. You can submit your entries via the web site.

BIC Superhero Competition: Enter, Terms And Conditions, Gallery

Tags: Arts And Culture, Comics, Speculative Fiction

Support's Independent JournalismKo-fi
Donate via Ko-fiAt our mission is to publish quality content for the web site and our airwavez channel on YouTube. We research, we fact check, and we revise before publishing. We focus on in depth reporting and are proud that much of what's in the archives is still worth reading years later.

Please support our independent journalism with a tip via Ko-fi. Every bit helps and is much appreciated.

You Might Also Like Comments Speak Your Mind

Support Independent JournalismKo-fi
Support independent journalism:
donate to via Ko-fi.

Every article on is free and produced with passion - but passion doesn't pay the bills. Your donation makes the difference. Pay what you can, when you can - no strings attached.

Donate via Ko-fi Network
Editorial Contacts
South Africa Mandy J Watson
Founder and co-editor
Cape Town, South Africa

United States Jase Luttrell
Portland, Oregon, United States
Feed delivery RSS
Subscribe to RSS updates in a feed reader

Email delivery Email Delivery
Subscribe to RSS updates via email

Newsletter delivery Monthly Newsletter

powered by TinyLetter

South African Comics
• All The Coverage: Reviews, art showcases, and news from the world of South African (and occasionally Southern African) comics.
  • BIC Competition
  • Werewolves Versus Crowdfunding
  • Siri Watu #5 Exclusive
  • 5 Zombie Questions: Zapiro
  • Captain South Africa #3 Exclusive
  • News: Full Bleed Competition
  • News: March 2019
  • News: You Died Anthology Submissions
  • Older Posts

• Calendar Of Events: Find out what's happening in September and beyond.
  • 1: Midlands Literary Festival, Howick
  • 4: Open Book Comics Fest, CPT
  • 6: South African Book Fair, JHB
  • 7: Open Art Sketch Meet, CPT
  • From 19: The Art Of Comics, JHB
  • 21: Batman Day
  • 21-24: Comic Con Africa, JHB
  • 24: Bargain Books Sale, CPT
  • 27-29: rAge, JHB
  • Ongoing: Women/Fairy Tales, Nottingham
  • Cancelled: Siri Watu Crowdfunding

#sacomics Calendar
Save The Date:
More events

Explore The Archives
From The Archives

Special Focus: AI

More From The Archives

★ More from the archives.

Cappuccino Quest

Shop | RaruRaru
Funko Pop! 425 Captain Marvel Vinyl Figure
Get your PlayStation Store codes on - instantly
Funko Pop! 426 Goose The Cat Vinyl Figure

Shop | RedbubbleRedbubble
Dachs Trot Sticker by Danelle Malan

Dachs Trot Sticker by Danelle Malan, the co-creator of Cottonstar

Dachs Trot comprises individually die-cut vinyl stickers that are ideal for smooth, flat surfaces, including laptops, paper notebooks, and windows. Each design has a 1/8th inch white border.

Dachs Trot is also available for T-shirts and other apparel, wall art, other home decor, bags, and stationery. Click the "Available Products" option on the product page on Redbubble to see the full range.

Dachs Trot Sticker

Shop | Things From Another WorldThings From Another World
Detective Comics #1000

Get all the variant copies of Detective Comics #1000 at Things From Another World, which ships internationally.

Ads | Google