The 75th Anniversary of Superman at Comic-Con
I will be on this panel:
The Secret History of the Siegel and Shuster Lawsuits (10:30AM-11:30AM; Room 26AB)—Five years after the Siegel heirs won a historic victory and regained a share of the Superman copyright, a higher court has set aside the verdict and also shut down the Shuster estate’s claim. As we face the final chapter of the Superman copyright dispute, this panel will explain what is really happening. What crucial details were overlooked or misinterpreted? Is there still hope for other creators? Or does Superman’s 75th anniversary mark the end of truth, justice and the American dream? Moderated by The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald with commentary by Siegel and Shuster biographer Brad Ricca (Case Western Reserve University), this panel features the legal analysis of Jeff Trexler (Fordham Law School), whose influential commentary on the Superman lawsuits set a new standard for comics-related legal analysis and also became part of the case.
This will be good — potentially with some major surprises (potentially not hyperbole), so don’t miss it. If you want a signed copy of Super Boys, come to this panel. That’s all I can say.
Otherwise, I will also be over at the offsite oasis known as TR!CKST3R:
TR!CKST3R was started by Pixar artists and celebrates creator-owned stuff, so of course it is the perfect place to sell Super Boys.
And, what I am really happy about, I contributed an article about Jerry and Joe to the Con program. Very happy about that.
So it’s always kind of a nerd debate, but I don’t think there would be an original Con in 1970 if superhero comics had not taken off. And despite how out-of-context The New York Times quotes me (#problems), while I do think that somebody would have eventually come up with a superhero, it would not have been Superman. The character is just too unique. We might now be getting excited about Talkie-Con or Bravo-Con or
Sharknado (sorry, can’t do it) -Con in that alternate reality. There is a very good chance it wouldn’t be Comic-Con.
The more conspiracy-minded people around me think it’s a little strange that the only panel that says anything about Siegel and Shuster is one about the lawsuit…at 10:30 AM on Sunday…opposite the Kirby panel with NEIL GAIMAN. I tell them there are three “Superman at 75″ panels (one with Morrison), but they note they are all DC-approved. Mark Waid, Glen Weldon and I proposed a panel about Superman’s anniversary, but it was rejected. Too bad — we had big plans. BIG plans. Maybe the world wasn’t ready. We would have talked about Vartox, the real person behind Bizarro, and heard Mark’s very quiet, thoughtful remarks about Man of Steel. Glen will be at the Con promoting his book and covering it for NPR. But no panel, so find him on Twitter @ghweldon in case we can host an impromptu salon somewhere probably nowhere.
There is an official Superman at 75 party:
Saturday Night. DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Entertainment celebrate 75 years of Superman. 8:30 p.m.-midnight, Float Rooftop Bar, Hard Rock Hotel. Invitation only.
There are zero unofficial Superman parties. That being said, I think Comic-Con ITSELF is the unofficial party. And that’s maybe how it should be. This isn’t sour grapes, I’m kind of joking around to make a point. Superman, our Superman, is the triumph of the meek, the nerd, the awkward. Let’s face it, Clark would only get invited to a LexCorp party as a power move anyway (and would probably spill the shrimp cocktail). Lois would surely get invited — but she’d leave.
So no, despite what my Kremlinologist colleagues whisper at me, it is actually not the end of the world that there isn’t a giant Siegel and Shuster celebration at Comic-Con this year with giant gold statues and hologram replicants on panels. Far, far, from it. If there were, I’d probably be making fun of that instead.
The point of Superman — the whole story, really — was the triumph of the underdog. This is still how it is — and there is a lot of power there.
I’ve talked about who really owns Superman before. After Man of Steel, it is definitely the fans who have bankrolled/Kickstarted another ten-year franchise. Whether you like the film or not, it is you who are in control of the story (come on, you know there will now be massive punishment/introspective soliloquies before Supes forgives himself in #2). The people at that party know that. We should, too.
I’m not going to lie, if I was invited to that DC party, I would totally go. But 131 people (thanks Jeff Trexler) have already posted that they are going to our panel, so I’ll be getting ready for that instead. I am bringing a book to Comic-Con about Superman — and I still can’t believe it. Dream come true (Ed. update: still not invited).
Now that I have to miss the Kirby panel with @NeilHimself, I am reminded of Gaiman’s article “The Myth of Superman” from 2006:
Superman is different because he doesn’t really belong to the writers who’ve created his adventures over the last 68-plus years. He has evolved into a folk hero, a fable, and the public feels like it has a stake in who Superman “really” is . . . the specific stories we tell about Superman – the what-happened and what-he-did – don’t matter that much. Superman transcends plot. We retell his tales because we wish he were here, real, to keep us safe. Everyone knows the Superman story.
You might think this quote is a bit problematic about creator rights, but he’s right. Superman is bigger than ©Superman. And I think that a big part of that balancing act of transcendence — that story – is how he was created. For me, that’s how the story — as underdog, as fighter — is always maintained. The story of Jerry and Joe makes Superman as mythic as any flash of heat vision ever could. Even better because it is real. That’s how we should be positively celebrating the character — not just with history and panels and collectibles, and who owns what, but with our own imaginations. Our own launches into open space. Superman is, for me, always a story about making art — just as much as it is about punching Brainiac into space.
I disagree with Neil a bit though. No one thinks of Superman as real. They think of themselves as him. That’s the secret. That’s why we make our way west in July. We don’t want to get rescued. We want to put aside the glasses, open up the shirt, and take that first step up — in a positive act of defiance. We want to act in a slightly strange, slightly dangerous way. Superman, even in his earliest incarnation, can leap several stories into the air.