Although the attorney representing the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had vowed they were “prepared to go the distance” in their legal battle with DC Comics, they appear to have reached the end of the road. Of course, that’s been said a few times before.
As Deadline reports, in a 2-1 vote the Ninth Circuit on Thursday tied up the loose ends in what it describes as “the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman — a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself,” reaffirming an October 2012 ruling that the Shuster estate is prevented from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the character by a 20-year-old agreement with DC.
“We are obviously very pleased with the court’s decision,” DC’s parent company Warner Bros. said in a statement.
That lower-court decision, which was appealed in May, dealt with a 1992 deal in which the Shuster estate relinquished all claims to Superman in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. In October, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright found that the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary.
A press conference will be held Monday in Cleveland outside the childhood home of Jerry Siegel to debut Ohio’s Superman license plates, in time for the character’s 75th anniversary.
According to The Plain Dealer, State Rep. Bill Patmon will appear alongside members of the Siegel & Shuster Society board outside the Glenville neighborhood house where teenagers Siegel and Joe Shuster created the Man of Steel.
This morning Mark Evanier showcases an incredible piece of comic-book history: home-movie footage from Superman Day at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair (the same exposition that introduced the Trylon and Perisphere, which in ’80s DC Comics served as the headquarters of the All-Star Squadron).
It’s notable certainly for the glimpses of such figures identified by Evanier as Jerry Siegel, Harry Donenfeld, Max C. Gaines and Jack Liebowitz, but also as testimony to the swiftness with which the Man of Steel made an impact on popular culture: Superman Day, with its races, elephant rides, parade and boys wearing S shields, was held July 3, 1940, roughly two years after the release of Action Comics #1. Granted, by the time of the event, the Adventures of Superman radio serial had been airing for about five months, but still …
Evanier has more on his blog, including doubts as to whether the man in the Superman suit is actually the actor some have long thought.
As if Canada Post’s stamps weren’t enough to celebrate the Toronto roots of Superman on his 75th anniversary, the Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled a series of seven collector coins to commemorate the occasion.
While Superman was created in 1933 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster when they were teenagers living in Cleveland, Shuster was actually born in Toronto, and lived there until age 9 or 10. He worked as a newspaper boy for the Toronto Daily Star, whose building served as a model for the Daily Planet (originally called the Daily Star).
“The generations of young people who grew up reading Superman comics may not have fully appreciated the story behind them,” Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a statement. “Our government celebrates Canada’s history and heritage and the very values and strengths that Superman embodies.”
The coins, which are available beginning today, depict different moments in the Man of Steel’s history, but they’re all engraved with the phrase “75 years of Superman,” written in Kryptonian: There’s the $75 14-karat gold coin (‘the early years”), featuring Joe Shuster’s illustration from the cover of Superman #1; the $10 fine silver coin (“vintage”); the $15 fine silver coin (“modern day); the $20 fine silver coin (“Man of Steel”), featuring Jim Lee’s cover for Superman #204; the $20 fine silver coin with the iconic S shield; the $20 fine silver (“Metropolis”) — appropriately enough, “the world’s first coin to feature an achromatic hologram”; and a “Then and Now” coin and stamp set, with a coin that shifts between Shuster’s Superman #1 and Lee’s modern reinterpretation.
Ordering details can be found on the Royal Canadian Mint website.
Canada Post will debut a series of stamps Friday at Fan Expo Canada celebrating the Toronto roots of the Man of Steel.
While Superman was created in 1933 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster when they were teenagers living in Cleveland — a fact commemorated with placards, an airport display and vanity plates — Shuster was actually born in Toronto, and lived there until age 9 or 10. He worked as a newspaper boy for the Toronto Daily Star, whose building served as a model for the Daily Planet (originally called the Daily Star).
“The thing about Superman is that he is like the ultimate hyphenated citizen. He is a Canadian-American-Kryptonian superhero,” the Toronto Star quotes Canada Post spokeswoman Keisha McIntosh-Siung as saying. “He’s really a timeless hero.”
The limited-edition series of five stamps, which goes on sale Sept. 10, celebrates the 75th anniversary of Superman’s debut in Action Comics #1. Each stamp features artwork from different eras.
Beginning in early October, Ohio drivers finally will be able to display Superman license plates on their cars.
It certainly hasn’t been easy. The campaign for the specialty plate commemorating the creation of the Man of Steel in 1932 by Cleveland teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster was launched in 2011 by the Siegel & Shuster Society, but ran into a couple of snags: first, objections by DC Comics and Warner Bros. to the proposed slogan “Birthplace of Superman” — he was born on Krypton, they insist — and then, more formidably, the twists and turns of the legislative process.
After a bill for the Superman plates failed to pass on its own, State Rep. Bill Patmon in April inserted the legislation into the state budget, which the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports passed last week.
Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel has grossed $141.3 million domestically since its June 14 premiere, breaking the record for a June opening on its way to a $214.6 million worldwide box office. That’s not bad for four days’ work. Of course, the franchise reboot had an estimated $225 million production budget, plus another $150 million for marketing and distribution, so Zack Snyder & Co. still have a way to go.
Clearly the film has legs, which means plenty of more Superman stories online and in print. Here are just a handful of them (warning: potential spoilers!):
• BuzzFeed turned to Watson Technical Consulting to calculate the real-life toll Man of Steel’s sprawling battle between Superman and General Zod would take on Metropolis — or, in this case, New York City — both in terms of money and human life. The disaster experts paint a grim picture in the days following the fight: 129,000 known dead, more than 250,000 missing (most of whom would’ve also died) and nearly 1 million injured. The strictly physical damage is pegged at $700 million, compared to 9/11′s $55 billion (with a further economic impact of $123 billion). The overall damage would be about $2 trillion.
Despite a series of seemingly definitive decisions in DC Comics’ favor, the nearly decade-long legal fight over the rights to Superman continues, with the estate of co-creator Joe Shuster asking an appeals court just three weeks ago to overturn a ruling barring the family from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the Man of Steel. At the center of the battle is tenacious and controversial attorney Marc Toberoff, the longtime nemesis of Warner Bros. who represents the heirs of Shuster and his collaborator Jerry Siegel.
He’s the subject of a lengthy feature in the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, in which he pledges he’ll take the Superman dispute to the Supreme Court, if necessary. “This case is by no means over,” he tells the magazine. “My clients and I are prepared to go the distance.” It’s an interesting article that’s part history lesson and part personality profile, with several tidbits (of varying importance) that I can’t recall seeing previously:
Manga | The mega-popular series One Piece resumed publication in this week’s issue of Shonen Jump, after a two-week hiatus due to manga-ka Eiichiro Oda’s health problems following a tonsil infection. [Cruchyroll]
Comics | It seems like we are reading a lot about comics in the Arab world lately, and Egyptian graphic novelist Achraf Abd Elazim argues that the fourth major comics center (after New York, France and Belgium, and Japan) will be Dubai. [Your Middle East]
Comics | Michael Cavna kics off Comic Riffs’ celebration of Superman’s 75th birthday with a roundup of writers’ opinions on why the character has stood the test of time. [Comic Riffs]
Comics | To mark the 75th anniversary of Superman, and the premiere this week of Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, Edward Helmore of The Telegraph recounts the long and bitter legal feud between DC Comics and the families of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over the rights to to the multibillion-dollar property, a battle from which the publisher has seemingly emerged victorious. [The Telegraph]
Comics | The New York Post’s Reed Tucker has some ideas on how to “fix” comics, starting with cutting the cover price to increase sales. [Parallel Worlds]
Comics | With an exhibit of original art from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts opening in a local gallery last week, a local comic convention in the works, and a thriving comics retail scene all year round, South Florida could just be the next comics hotspot. [WLRN]
Two years after a car drove through a fence surrounding the site of Joe Shuster’s former home in Cleveland, it’s happened again.
The Plain Dealer reports that a 41-year-old Cleveland man has been charged with drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a license after he allegedly drove off the street late Wednesday afternoon and plowed through the wooden fence. While a portion of the fence and seven large metal plates reprinting the first Superman story are missing, it’s unknown whether those plates are destroyed or were merely removed until repairs can be made.
It’s not exactly what three residents had in mind last year when they launched a campaign to change the name of Hutchinson, Kansas, to Smallville, but this week city council voted to proclaim June 21 as “Smallville Day” in honor of Superman.
That’s the same day the Man of Steel will be inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame, alongside “the Father of Basketball” James Naismith, the band Kansas, Menninger Clinic founders Charles, Karl and Will Menninger, and the Union Army’s 1st Regiment Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry.
The push to rename Hutchinson was begun last year by friends Ben Eisiminger, KC McNeely and Christopher Wietrick, who noticed similarities between their city and the fictional hometown of Clark Kent — among them, a similar location and population (many more are detailed in the video below). The city of 42,080 also has a Clark Road and a Kent Road.
The Hutchinson News reports that given the 75th anniversary of Superman, the looming release of Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel and the Hall of Fame induction, Wietrick thought it was a perfect time to approach the city council with the idea. Tuesday morning, the members voted unanimously in support of the “Smallville Day” proclamation, which will be read at the June 18 by Mayor Bob Bush.
On June 21 the editor and publisher of The Hutchinson News will travel to Topeka to accept Clark Kent’s induction into the Kansas Hall of Fame, alongside Laura Siegel Larson, the daughter of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel.
If you thought the nearly decade-long legal battle for the rights to the Man of Steel had come to an end last month, think again: On Thursday, the attorney for the Joe Shuster estate asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn an October ruling that the family was prevented from reclaiming the artist’s stake in Superman by a 20-year-old agreement with DC Comics.
At issue is a 1992 deal in which the estate relinquished all claims to the property in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. On Oct. 17, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright found that the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary. Less than three months later, the 9th Circuit overturned a 2008 decision granting the heirs of Jerry Siegel the writer’s 50-percent share of the copyright to the first Superman story in Action Comics #1, effectively granting DC full ownership of the character.
“[Mort] Weisinger took all these things he didn’t care for because they weren’t his ideas and turned them to his advantage. Instead of resenting another character with a LL initial as a love interest for the character, he created three or four more and did the whole LL curse. He was really very good, as were his writers, of finding ways to ‘brand extend’ Superman. They expanded on little themes because he knew — and this is something we don’t see comics do anymore because we don’t perceive of them as being for kids — but he knew that one of the things that was really appealing for kids was a certain sense of repetition. He had a wonderful gift, along with his writers, for being able to balance repetition in theme or in ritualistic kinds of things with new invention. If you look at the DC stuff as opposed to the Marvel stuff, which was created with a different audience in mind, you see that ritual. You see that idea of consistency. Flash’s costume always came out of ring. There was the whole ‘In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night’ oath in Green Lantern. There were certain things in Batman, like the Bat Signal. They knew that those things not only created a comfort zone for the reader, they were things the kids looked forward to. ‘Let’s see how they do it this time!’ It was all about finding ways to do variations on those themes and depending on readers’ familiarity with them to create ideas that were new and exciting for kids…those ways of doing comics don’t really relate to today, and I don’t know if anyone wanted to go backwards, that they could do it.”
– former Superman writer Martin Pasko, in a wide-ranging interview with Comic Book Resources about the 75th anniversary of the man of Steel
Frustrated by the glacial pace of a bill to create a Superman license plate, an Ohio representative pinned the legislation to the state budget, which passed the House on Thursday — coincidentally, the 75th anniversary of the Man of Steel.
“This is an important moment for Ohioans,” State Rep. Bill Patmon, who represents Cleveland, told The Plain Dealer. “This license plate is all about recognizing the American dream and the heroes that make it possible.”
The legislation now moves to the Senate, and then on to Gov. John Kasich for final approval. If all goes as planned, the plates will be available for purchase by Ohioans next summer.
Celebrating the creation of Man of Steel in 1932 by Cleveland teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the plates originally were intended to bear the phrase, “Birthplace of Superman,” but Warner Bros. and DC Comics objected to the slogan, insisting the superhero was born on Krypton. So instead they’ll now say “Truth, Justice & the American Way,” and sport the iconic “S” emblem.
The Siegel and Shuster Society began the push for the plate in 2011. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the specialty plates will go to the group to fund Superman projects.