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DC Comics is calling June “Superman Month,” but next week is Snyder Week. The first issue of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained arrives next Wednesday, and the premiere of director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel premieres in most places two days later.
Therefore, because there will be a lot of Superman talk coming down the pike, I thought I’d get mine out of the way early.
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One thing that comics blogging has taught me is a healthy respect for the roles (including the rights) of creators. Creators’ rights aren’t unique to comics, of course, but you really can’t talk about the history of superhero comics, or the development of corporately handled superheroes, without at least acknowledging the people who first introduced the concepts. In this respect Superman is a special case, because he seems to have developed past his creators’ original idea (or, certainly, past the original parameters) into something Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster might never have imagined — and people seem pretty cool with that, in a way that perhaps doesn’t apply to similarly long-lived characters.
If you’re going to work for a big company, you’re going to be exploited. But we were lucky, because the work was so much fun.
– Elliot S! Maggin, on his experiences writing for DC Comics in the ’70s.
Creators’ rights was a big topic at the ’70s panel I attended a couple of weeks ago at Comic-Con International. Moderator Mark Evanier asked how Maggin and the other panelists had felt at the time about the previous generation of comics creators from a business standpoint. Steve Englehart shared that he’d come into the industry just as Jack Kirby was leaving Marvel for DC without any royalties. He said, “I remember saying, ‘I’m not going to end up in a situation like that where I’m not getting paid for the stuff that I created.’ As it turned out, I didn’t listen to myself.”
Englehart said it with a smile, though, and to my surprise, that was the most critical anyone on the panel ever got about their treatment by the big comics companies. Maggin’s comment above came shortly after.