Over at The Beat, I’ve posted a story about Paul Cassidy, the first Superman ‘ghost’ artist, and how he may be the first American scholar to write a graduate thesis on comics. There is older work on newspaper comics, but this might be the first to consider comic books. Sean Howe of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story was the first to make the find. Read more about it over at The Beat.
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 just won the Ohioana Book Award for Nonfiction. I feel like I’m on the same kickball team as Doris Kearns Goodwin (at least in Ohio). Thank you, Ohioana Llibrary.
Signing and Giveaway, Thursday, July 24 at 3pm (Booth #1019)
The St. Martin’s Press booth (#1019) will be giving away FORTY FREE COPIES OF SUPER BOYS on a first come, first serve basis at 3 pm on Thursday. I’ll be there to sign your book and the first 40 get a rare Con-only promo item.
If you can’t make it on Thursday, stop by the booth during the show, they will have some really cool giveaways for the book — just ask. You’ll know them when you see them.
Friday, July 25, 2:30pm – 3:30pm, Room 26AB
Comics Arts Conference Session #8: Who Created Batman?
Who really created Batman? Was it the Caped Crusader’s officially credited creator, Bob Kane, or was it his secret collaborator, Bill Finger? What did editor Vince Sullivan, artist Jerry Robinson, writer Gardner Fox, and others contribute when first shaping the Batman mythos, from the Dark Knight’s debut in 1939 until he gained a young crime-fighting partner, a clownish arch-foe, and a feline femme fatale one year later? Pulling from interviews, biographies, personal communications, and external evidence, experts conduct a forensic investigation into this question of historical, cultural, and ethical importance. Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight) asks Tom Andrae (Batman & Me), Brad Ricca (Super Boys), Athena Finger (The Cape Creator: A Tribute to Bill Finger), Marc Tyler Nobleman (Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman), Denny O’Neil (Batman), Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art), Jens Robinson (CartoonArts International), Michael Uslan (The Dark Knight films), and Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson (granddaughter of DC Comics’s founder) the basic question: Who built the bat?
Super Boys has been named a Finalist for the Ohioana Book Award — which has been around since 1942 — in Nonfiction.
To see the other finalists and learn more about Ohioana, click here. I am very excited for the book to be recognized like this, especially in my home state, past and present.
Patrick Reed asked me to contribute something for Joe Shuster’s 100th birthday over at Comics Alliance. Some great art there, too. Happy Birthday, Joe.
Over at the Toronto Star (a very important paper in Superman lore), Sandro Contenta has a really bizarre story about Nic Cage’s stolen copy of Action Comics #1 — with a lot of new information. I provide scintillating background that confirms this particular issue is, in fact, quite valuable. What do collectors really pay for? The paper? What’s on it? Or all the stuff it symbolizes? I saw a copy of AC #1 a couple of months ago in Chicago. It’s cool to look at.