For years, people who knew what I was working on would ask me: “so when will that big lawsuit end?” And I would say, “uh…not for a long time, pal” — but I really had no idea whatsoever. In a startling turn of events, it appears that the almost never-ending lawsuit of the Siegels vs. Time-Warner might indeed be over. DC retains the characters, but will honor a previous settlement agreement with the Siegels, who lose all ownership over Superman. For the best coverage on the Internet, click over to Jeff Trexler at The Beat. Don’t trust the others; they aren’t lawyers.
Who won? Who won what? It was not the fairytale ending that many wanted, but in some ways it now seems inevitable, like these things often do. Still thinking about it. It definitely closes a door that has been open for a very long time, both in court rooms in California and in the backs of the minds of everyone who knew about it. What happens next will be very interesting. For now, it’s just over. For both sides, some part of that must be a relief.
I never wanted to write about the lawsuit. For one, I knew the participants — plus I’m a teacher, not a lawyer, and I was worried it would sound like a David Kelly Shatner soliloquy from Boston Legal. Or even a Manheim. But the higher-ups convinced/cajoled/demanded that it was really part of the story and people wanted it. So it took a long time, but I have a chapter on it that I think offers a new way of looking at the whole thing in a way that I was comfortable saying was the truth. And it really opened up something — in many ways, the lawsuit is an almost re-enactment of what happened with that infamous $130 check pictured up top that bought Superman from Jerry and Joe in 1938. That check. It was cause for great celebration, reflection, and almost immediate regret. And you can say that “oh, it was a standard deal, $10 a page” and that no one knew what it would become, but that is wrong — that check — the check — was a cold, calculated move. You’ll see.
So here at the end, both sides walk away with something. But at great cost. Now I have to figure out how to write about it in a paragraph. What is the legacy? What is the story? Serials never end, not really. Continuity abides. Professionally, I have to figure out what this means to the story. Personally, I am thinking of Joanne Siegel, who I once somehow had the younger guts to ask point-blank: “So how is the thing going?” and I saw fire in her eyes.
But I wonder what there is really left to celebrate, other than what started it in the first place.