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Superman #1

Superman #1

Legal | A blog comment by publisher Denis Kitchen has led to another victory for the heirs of Jerry Siegel in their lengthy legal battle with Warner Bros. and DC Comics over the rights to Superman. A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Siegels co-own the rights to Action Comics #4, pages 3-6 of Superman #1, and the first two weeks worth of Superman comic strips. The same judge decided in March that the Siegels own half of Action Comics #1 and, therefore, half the rights to Superman. [Blog@Newsarama]

Publishing | Tokyopop has announced it will serialize several of its original series online for free. Titles include Psy-Comm, Undertown, Kat & Mouse, Pantheon High and Gyakushu. [press release]

Publishing | Marc Mason, editor of Comics Waiting Room, has been hired to handle public relations for NBM Publishing. [NBM Publishing]

Marvel Comics #1

Marvel Comics #1

Publishing | So when exactly is Marvel’s 70th anniversary? [The Comichron]

Retailing | Marion Meneker tries to figure out how Amazon.com’s bestseller lists are assembled. [The Big Money, via Comiks Debris]

Conventions | New York Comic Con will have its own pavilion Sept. 13 at the Brooklyn Book Festival, which will feature such comics-industry guests as Denny O’Neil, Phil Jimenez and Tom DeFalco. [MediumAtLarge]

Crime | A graphic artist in Bangor, Maine, accused of killing a young woman apparently had dreams of working for Top Cow Productions. [Bangor Daily News]

Creators | Dave Gibbons discusses digital art and technology: “One of the things you have to be able to do, as a comic strip artist, is to draw things repeatedly from a variety of angles, so you need references, and you find the best picture you can. Nowadays you can go on the internet and find several million pictures of New York City, you can use Google Street View, you can use Google Earth and have a three-dimensional model of New York … to me, there’s an enhanced richness with comics, because artists can get their hands on reference and give it that texture that relates to reality.” [Guardian]

Kazu Kibuishi

Kazu Kibuishi

Creators | John Hogan interviews Kazu Kibuishi, Josh Neufeld and David Small. [Graphic Novel Reporter]

Creators | Rich Johnston talks with Antony Johnston about Wasteland, Prodigal Son: Wolverine, music and more. [Bleeding Cool]

Creators | Sean Collins chats with Junko Mizuno about her contribution to Marvel’s Strange Tales MAX miniseries: “I’m sorry, but I’ve never read Marvel comics! As I grew up, I mainly read Japanese comics for girls, but not the romantic ones. I always preferred comics with fantasy, adventure and action. They might have something in common with Marvel comics. I enjoyed reading the long character bios [for Marvel's characters] before I started working for the anthology, though. It was very surprising for me to learn that the universe is so complicated and elaborate.” [Marvel.com]

Creators | Deb Aoki interviews NaRae Lee, artist of the graphic-novel adaptation of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride. [About.com]

Comics | Matt Ampersand and Wesley Smith consider the relevance of Marvel’s Ultimate imprint. [The Weekly Crisis, Examiner.com]

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Comments

8 Comments

Once again, thanks for the mention of my article.

Devil's Advocate

August 13, 2009 at 11:26 am

“The same judge decided in March that the Siegels own half of Action Comics #1 and, therefore, half the rights to Superman.”

So what about the colorist, letterer, printer, delivery truck driver and all the other people who contributed to the creation of the book? What’s their percentage?

Is that rhetorical?

I’ve given a good deal of thought on the matter of character ownership. The creators, were legal adults when they signed the papers, selling their characters. The last time Seigal wrote supes, was 45 years ago. he got fired for again taking dc to court over supes. time and time and time again, the courts sided with dc.Whats going to come out of this, is the wrecking of supes as a marketable character.As is, I dont buy the new supes books, and wont if produced by the Seigal heirs either.As is, DC legally didnt even need to give them a pension, as they have for the past 33 or so years, to S& S, and their widows.

@ Dr. J: Yes, they sold Superman to DC. And yes, Siegel sued DC unsuccessfully on many occasions to reclaim the rights. (And successfully on some occasions, like the original Superboy case.) But US copyright law states that, after a period of 56 years, a creator — or, in this case, his heirs — can reclaim rights even if he sold them. That’s what’s happened here. The circumstances of the suits occurring now are different from the circumstances of the suits during Siegel’s lifetime.

@ Devil’s Advocate: You have got to be trolling. You can’t possibly believe that copyright law recognizes people who drive delivery trucks as co-owners of the product they are delivering.

My feeling on the Superman case as a whole is that I side with the heirs and feel this is important precedent in the future of creators’ rights — but that, in the long term, US copyright law needs to be overhauled. 56 years is an absurd timeframe to require before a creator can reclaim his copyright, as of course it is unlikely he will live to make much use of it at that point. Furthermore, the current US definition of copyright, which is “extend it every time Steamboat Willie is about to enter the public domain”, is an abuse of the intent of copyright. Copyright is supposed to encourage innovation and creativity, but modern copyright law has effectively killed the public domain and is therefore INHIBITING them.

So yes, under copyright law as it stands, I salute the Siegels and Shusters and wish them all the best in their efforts. But if copyright law were reasonable, Siegel and Shuster would have gotten their rights back decades ago, reaped the benefits in their lifetimes, and those rights would now be expired and Superman would belong to everybody.

So tell me again how people that had Nothing to do with the creation of the character deserve anything? Also as I recall Shuster left no heirs, so how does he benefit? Of course when DC bought the rights to Superman they where supposed to know that he would become a billion dollar franchise, so indeed damn them for not predicting the future for the benefit of their work for hire contractors. I hope they let these greedy people take ownership of this character and concentrate on doing something with a better character that they do own, that being one Shazam a much more interesting character.

“So tell me again how people that had Nothing to do with the creation of the character deserve anything?”

Which people? The wife and daughter of Superman’s co-creator, or Warner Bros./DC Comics?

“Also as I recall Shuster left no heirs, so how does he benefit?”

There’s an estate, consisting of a nephew. The date for the Shuster estate to recapture copyright comes in 2013.

“Of course when DC bought the rights to Superman they where supposed to know that he would become a billion dollar franchise …”

That’s not really the issue (though, of course, if Superman weren’t a money-maker it’s unlikely anyone would be fighting over the property). The issue is that when Siegel and Shuster sold the rights to Detective Comics, copyright was granted (under the law at the time) for 28 years, with a possibility of another 28-year renewal. But then Congress extended the duration of copyright — twice. Recognizing these changes were unfair to the creators of the original work, lawmakers included provisions allowing them, their heirs and their estates (at different intervals) to reclaim copyright.

“… so indeed damn them for not predicting the future for the benefit of their work for hire contractors.”

But Siegel and Shuster didn’t create Superman as “work made for hire”; he was created in 1932 and sold to DC some six years later.

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