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Byron Shire
June 18, 2021

The Ghost who Walks vs the Ghost who Tokes

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Nimbin's Plantem character has been an institution for more than 20 years. In this photo, the late Chicken George donned the suit. (photo Hermetic.com.au)
Nimbin’s Plantem character has been an institution for more than 20 years. In this photo, the late Chicken George donned the suit. (photo Hermetic.com.au)

By Darren Coyne

It would be an epic battle indeed. The Phantom vs The Plantem, squaring off in a court of law.

The Australian publisher of the iconic Phantom comics has sent a letter to the Nimbin HEMP Embassy threatening legal action unless the HEMP Party stops using its Plantem character in political advertisements, and at Mardi Grass.

The Plantem is a Nimbin street theatre character created by former Nimbin resident Bob Hopkins more than 20 years ago, and later revived by the late Chicken George.

The character was modelled on American cartoonist Lee Falk’s Phantom comic book character and campaigns against cannabis prohibition. The image most recently appeared in political adverstising for the HEMP Party.

A section of the political advertisement featuring the Plantem which appeared in the West Australian newspaper this week. The use of the image has upset the Australian publishers of The Phantom comic books.
A section of the political advertisement featuring the Plantem which appeared in the West Australian newspaper this week. The use of the image has upset the Australian publishers of The Phantom comic books.

In the letter, Frew Publications publisher Dudley Hogarth wrote that ‘the use of the Phantom’s image in green costume as a means of promoting your political aspirations’ is ‘offensive to the Phan base’.

Mr Hogarth said he had been receiving calls of complaint from Western Australia, where HEMP Party advertising has appeared in the West Australian newspaper.

‘The Phantom was and never has been in favour of or a promoter of drugs medicinal or recreational,’ Mr Hogarth wrote.

‘Firstly you use the image illegally, secondly by inference you tarnish his iconic image.’

‘Frew Publications hold the licence for the Phantom in Australia and New Zealand under rights paid for and granted to us by King Feature Inc TM Hearst Holding, Inc New York.

‘Unless you are willing to go to court I must ask and insist that you cease and desist using the Ghost who walks to promote your ideology.

‘The same applies to the use of Phantom for the festival.’

HEMP party president Michael Balderstone, who is running as a Senate candidate in Western Australia, responded saying it was never the intention of the party to upset the ‘Phan base’.

‘In fact the opposite, we were sure the Phantom would love the Plantem’s work in exposing Big Pharma’s greedy monopoly over global pain relief and the outlawing of nature’s best pain relieving plants,’ Mr Balderstone said.

‘In NSW alone the Premier plans to spend $3.8 billion dollars on new jails, maybe privatised jails, for 7000 extra prisoners.

‘Surely the Phantom does not support this?

‘The advertisement today in WA was a one off and will not be run again and I will forward your letter to other followers of the Plantem so they know their position, but would you please reconsider.

‘I am sure the Phantom and the Plantem would be best of allies and certainly not enemies.’

Mr Balderstone told Echonetdaily that he was surprised by the letter of demand.

‘The Plantem has been a mascot of Nimbin for more than two decades but I guess the people in the west are a bit isolated and may not have been aware of him,’ he said.

The HEMP Party has pointed out that the law of fair dealing for the purpose of parody or satire was introduced as a defence to copyright infringement by Australian  Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)  almost five years ago.

 


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Street theatre is harmless, but when The Plantem is connected to an illegal drug and to advertise The Plantem it is not harmless. That action is a psychological promotion to “Plant Them” meaning to plant Marijuana plants and to actively promote Marijuana as a crop.
    The connection during an election is a slur on the comic book character The Phantom who fights the good fight on the side of the right side of the law and the American way in the jungle. That is the way it will be until Marijuana is legalised. It will never be legalised.
    Ordinary Marijuana and Medicinal Marijuana have to be separated with a wide gap in-between.
    The “medicinal” part needs world-wide promotion and funding with backing by the government.
    That is the aim and that is the intention but in the eyes of the law, the government and the eyes of the community that is not being done.

  2. Come on Len Heggarty, there is no identifiable difference between “ordinary” and “medicinal” cannabis (and the slang term Marijuana is hardly the best term to discuss this wonder of natural botany). Quite clearly, ALL cannabis use is medicinal, non-toxic, non-addictive, and far less harmful than most legal “medicines”.

    Creating this great divide is nonsense. Why should the government be needed in any way, shape or form? Are we still little children needing guidance in every facet of our lives? I think not. The term government derives from the words meaning to “control the mind”. It overrides our natural right to freedom of existence and makes us slaves to a capitalistic system where our only worth is that which we can contribute to a failing and ever-restrictive society designed to imprison us in an open-air camp where we are nothing more than commodities to be used, abused, and thrown away.

    The very notion that a fictional comic-book character, one whose very success relies upon black-magic superstition and anonymity like a thief in the night, could possibly stand in the way of humankind’s greatest freedom movement in two thousand years, is ludicrous in the extreme. It’s bad enough we even have to have this movement, when hemp/cannabis could and should have been with us all along, well before the oil and chemical oligarchies monopolised the system and raped Mother Earth into the dismal, choking, toxic world it is today.

    It’s far more than just medicinal for sick and dying men, women, and children. It’s the one and only medicine to save the world. LET IT GROW.

  3. Len, marijuana is legal in some American states so your argument that “The Phantom who fights the good fight on the side of the right side of the law and the American way in the jungle” is pointless

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