Superman Court

This week, the Supreme Court denied the likely last gasp for the Joe Shuster Estate re: Superman.  Variety reports:

The Supreme Court’s action lets stand a lower court ruling in favor of DC Comics, which has blocked efforts by Shuster’s family members to reclaim copyrights in Superman. A provision of the Copyright Act allows authors to terminate and reclaim previous assignments of copyrights, although certain conditions must first be met.

The decision on Monday means that a lower court ruling stands in favor of DC Comics, which contended that a 1992 deal they made with Shuster’s sister Jean Peavy and Frank Shuster had given up their ability to reclaim the Superman copyrights. The deal included pension payments of about $25,000 per year.

The story was also reported on by NBC news, FOX, and pretty much everywhere else.

The fan community has always held out hope that the case would be heard by the Supreme Court in some fireworks display of justice. I get that. But legal scholars have always cautioned against that optimism. Justice — and the law — isn’t that simple. Superman, and this case, certainly is not.

But now that I am no longer writing the book, so to speak, I don’t have to be so objective. Of all the parties involved, I think the Shusters have been taken advantage by nearly every single party they have come in contact with. Don’t get me wrong, there have been bad things on all sides of this case — some of them unforgivable. But now that legal avenues have been exhausted (how many times have we said that?), it is my strong hope that DC one day acknowledges Joe’s family — the artist who co-created Superman — with a more appropriate settlement. It is not the most important thing in the world (the Shusters would be the first to agree), but that’s my two cents. When a settlement does come — someday — to this case of two dead men, I hope that both families are treated in equal measure. Because that is what a settlement should acknowledge. That is what they did.

This image by the great Drew Friedman is available here as a very limited print. I have mine.

Drew’s new book Heroes of the Comics (just out) is fantastic: not only does he provide great facts and stories about each person, but his portraits of them offer their own narratives as to who these people actually were. I haven’t gone back to a book like I have with this one in a long time.  Highest possible recommendation, especially as a gift (for yourself, too).

For those of you who subscribe to the blog — thank you!  I think that the Court case offers a good time to take a hiatus. Or an Adam Warlock cocooning. I will have a big announcement soon — the next book! — which is going to be very, very different.

 

Super Boys on Noblemania

Marc Tyler Nobleman did a nice spotlight on Super Boys over on his blog today. 

Marc has been a friend and colleague for a long time. He found the police report so integral to the story of Michel Siegel in Super Boys. I was positive that didn’t exist. Positive. But Marc found it, literally stuck to another file. Its very existence was by chance. The report led to some some first real facts about that case — and my own possible theory of who might have been responsible for the robbery that, some might argue, created Superman.

There are very few people who do the real kind of work we do. I’m really glad Marc is one of them. He has some cool stuff on the horizon, so keep watch. And if you haven’t, be sure to read Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, his book with Ty Templeton. It is the last word on Bill Finger. Case closed.

Seventy-Six

 

Today is the 76th anniversary (as near as we can tell) of the publication of Action Comics #1. I thought I’d post this — something optimistic — their first (until their deaths) cover story in their hometown, announcing the appearance of the Superman syndicated newspaper strip — which was, back then, the much bigger deal.

 

 

Instability

The thing about doing a project this massive is you eventually start to see connections everywhere — and this can be a real danger. You can start to see things that aren’t there.

So you have to be careful. Until something like this happens.

This is from “Spy” in 1937′s Detective Comics #22 :

What th-? Lorenzo Rica? Granted, he’s one “c” short, but this stereotypical Italian bad guy (with weird paisley pajamas) has a common version of the last name my grandfather brought to Cleveland from Sicily. What does this mean? Is this coincidence? Destiny? VOICES FROM BEYOND? Or, more likely, have I finally lost it? Maybe. But good research and good work is also sometimes just focused paranoia. That goes for anything, whether it’s a book or a bathroom remodel or making a giant quilt.

Still, if you’ve read the book you know that Jerry and Joe named many of their early characters after people they knew. So what does that mean?

Whoever Lorenzo is, he’s no match for Sally and Bart:

I really don’t know what to make of this other than maybe it’s past time to move onto the next project. But you know what — forget that. I’m totally counting this as being in a Siegel/Shuster comic by way of a weird spacetime continuum shaped by metafictional bizarre forces that neither of us can fully or truly understand.

Maybe. Or not. It’s still pretty cool.