Butcher Billy, the Brazilian artist sometimes known as Bily Mariano da Luz, is turning into something of a Robot 6 favorite. His latest project posted at Behance is “Batman: The Nolan X Burton Experiment,” smashing together Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy to sometimes humorous, often illuminating, effect. By placing their differing elements in proximity, these images reveal both what was good and what failed from these two adaptations. (Such as, hey Tim, you cast Lando Calrissian as Harvey Dent, then do absolutely nothing of consequence with the character in either of your films? What was that all about?)
As Bily writes: “But are they really that different? How much of all that is really classic and timeless and how much is pure recycling to modern times? Are those elements cool enough to stand even if taken from their own environments? How those concepts would work if they were mixed into one another?”
Legal | Both Warner Bros. and automobile customizer Mark Towle have filed for summary judgment in the studio’s 2011 copyright-infringement lawsuit against Towle, whose Gotham Garage sold several replicas of the Batmobile. Warner, the parent company of DC Comics, claims the design of the Batmobile is its intellectual property, while Towle argues that copyright law does not regard a “useful object,” such as a car, as a sculptural work and therefore the design can’t be copyrighted. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Crime | Police in Lincoln, Nebraska, are investigating the theft of 600 X-Men comics, dating back to the 1970s, from the communal storage area of an apartment building. [Journal Star]
Stop-motion animator and LEGO fan Nicolas of Paranick Filmz, who’s already recreated the first two trailers for The Dark Knight Rises using the colorful building-block toys, has now moved on to the third — and as you might expect, it’s a lot of fun. It kind of made me wish Christopher Nolan had worked with LEGO from the start …
The Hollywood Reporter continues its industry power surveys with a list of the 100 most powerful women in entertainment that includes DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson at No. 49.
No stranger to Hollywood, Nelson was president of Warner Premiere and shepherd of Warner Bros.’ blockbuster Harry Potter franchise before being appointed in September 2009 as head of the studio’s newly formed DC Entertainment division, designed to better exploit the comic-book properties across all media. Five months later, Nelson named Dan DiDio and Jim Lee as co-publishers and Geoff Johns as chief creative officer; in September 2010, the company announced a “bi-coastal realignment strategy” that saw the closing of WildStorm and the move of business/administration and digital-content operations to a new office tower in Burbank, California, less than a mile from Warner Bros. Studios. It was under Nelson that DC launched its New 52 initiative and expanded its digital reach.
“She’s the gatekeeper for the entire DC brand, which includes films like The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion in worldwide grosses) and such TV series as The CW’s new high-performing drama Arrow and various shows on Cartoon Network,” The Hollywood Reporter writes in its brief profile of Nelson. “Simply put, if you are a producer and you want to develop one of DC’s characters, you have to go through Nelson, 45. She also oversaw the relaunch of the entire line of DC Comics and created a plan for same-day digital comics on all platforms and partnering with Warner Bros. to develop new projects.”
Last week the trade paper named Robert Kirkman and Neil Gaiman among the 25 most powerful authors in Hollywood.
“It’s a more serious version of Superman. It’s not like a heart attack. We took the mythology seriously. We take him as a character seriously. I believe the movie would appeal to anyone. I think that you’re going to see a Superman you’ve never seen before. We approached it as though no other films had been made. He’s the king-daddy. Honestly that’s why I wanted to do it. I’m interested in Superman because he’s the father of all superheroes. He’s this amazing ambassador for all superheroes. What was it about him that cracked the code that made pop culture embrace this other mythology? What we‘ve made as a film not only examines that but is also an amazing adventure story. It’s been an honor to work on. As a comic book fan, Superman is like the Rosetta Stone of all superheroes. I wanted to be sure the movie treated it respectfully.”
– Man of Steel director Zack Snyder, discussing his upcoming reboot of Warner Bros.’ Superman franchise, as well as his 2009 adaptation of Watchmen
Legal | EC Comics writer and editor Al Feldstein and the estate of Mad editor and artist Harvey Kurtzman have taken steps to reclaim the copyright to their early work under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 (the same provision invoked by the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster). Feldstein has already reached an agreement with the William M. Gaines Agency, which holds the rights to Tales from the Crypt and other classic EC comics of the 1950s; the deal will bring him a small amount of money and the freedom to use the art any way he wants in his autobiography. Kurtzman’s people are in the early stages of negotiations with Warner Bros./DC Comics, which holds the rights to Mad magazine. [The Comics Journal]
Graphic novels | BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels list for October makes for strange bedfellows, with The Walking Dead Compendium Two at No. 1, Chris Ware’s Building Stories at No. 2, and the third volume of Gene Yang’s Avatar: The Last Airbender at No. 3. It’s an interestingly mixed list, with the usual sprinkling of manga (Sailor Moon, Naruto, Bleach), a volume of Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine compilations, and four more volumes of The Walking Dead. And bringing up the rear, at #20, the perennial Watchmen. [ICv2]
The same day that she helped to dedicate an exhibit at Cleveland’s airport recognizing the city as the place of Superman’s creation, Jerry Siegel’s daughter issued a letter to fans recounting her family’s fight to reclaim a portion of the Man of Steel copyright, and criticizing the tactics used by Warner Bros. and DC Comics in the increasingly bitter legal battle.
Characterizing their 15-year crusade as “my family’s David and Goliath struggle against Warner Bros.,” Laura Siegel Larson writes, “My father, Jerry Siegel, co-created Superman as the ‘champion of the oppressed … sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!’ But sadly his dying wish, for his family to regain his rightful share of Superman, has become a cautionary tale for writers and artists everywhere.”
A federal judge ruled in 2008 that the family had succeeded in recapturing that share of the first Superman story in Action Comics #1 through a provision of the U.S. Copyright Act (the scope of the decision is on appeal), paving the way for the estate of Joe Shuster to do the same in 2013, effectively stripping DC of some of the defining elements of the Man of Steel, including his secret identity, his origin, his costume and Lois Lane. DC fired back in 2010, suing to force Marc Toberoff to resign as the Siegel attorney, claiming he enticed the heirs to walk away from a $3 million deal that would’ve permitted the company to retain control of Superman and stands to gain controlling interest in the property. DC is also asking a court to block the Shuster estate from reclaiming its stake, arguing the family relinquished all claims to Superman in 1992 in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” including payment of Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and a $25,000 annual pension for his sister Jean Peavy.
Siegel Larson’s letter, first published by The Hollywood Reporter, arrived on the heels of a DC motion filed Wednesday in the Shuster case accusing Toberoff of, among other things, concealing evidence.
Even as a judge is poised to rule whether the Joe Shuster estate’s bid to reclaim a portion of the Superman rights is valid, DC Comics is accusing the family’s attorney — a longtime legal nemesis of parent company Warner Bros. — of misconduct, and has asked the court to end the case.
Hollywood, Esq. reports the publisher on Wednesday filed a motion for an evidentiary hearing, arguing that attorney Marc Toberoff, who also represents Jerry Siegel’s heirs, “has violated three court orders, submitted four false and misleading declarations, made misrepresentations to the court, bogged down the court for years in his efforts to [hide] the ball, and otherwise subverted DC’s right to a fair search for the truth in both this case and the Siegel case.”
DC is pushing for terminating sanctions, which usually consists of dismissal. Toberoff tells Hollywood, Esq. that the motion is another distraction by the company, which filed a lawsuit in 2010 designed to force him to resign as the Siegels’ attorney.
DC claims that in 2001 Toberoff convinced Siegel’s daughter Laura Siegel Larson to walk away from a $3 million deal that would’ve permitted the publisher to retain the rights to the first Superman story in Action Comics #1. Shuster’s nephew Mark Warren Peary also signed with Toberoff, and in 2008 the Siegel family succeeded in reclaiming a portion of the rights through a provision of the U.S. Copyright Act (the case is on appeal); the window opens for the Shuster estate in 2013.
However, DC insists the termination notice filed by Peary in 2003 is invalid, arguing that the estate relinquished all claims to the Man of Steel in 1992 in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” including payment of Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and a $25,000 annual pension for his sister Jean Peavy. But Toberoff asserted last month that DC didn’t intend for the “ambiguous” 1992 document to transfer ownership of the copyright, telling U.S. District Judge Otis Wright that the publisher would never pin the future of “a billion-dollar property” on such an agreement. Wright, who will also consider DC’s latest motion, initially was skeptical but later appeared to recognize logic in Toberoff’s argument.
In addition to terminating sanctions, DC seeks the assignment of a special master to investigate any misconduct.
While there’s a lot to be said for getting there first, is the fact that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman was the first superhero, the character that created a unique and endlessly tweakable template and founded an increasingly pervasive genre, the only reason the Man of Steel occupies the unique place he does in our culture?
In his new book Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero, Larry Tye pens a biography of sorts of the character, biographies being something Tye has more than a little experience writing (his previous works include biographies of Satchel Paige and Edward L. Bernays). Given that focus, Tye doesn’t really set about answering the question of why Superman is our most enduring hero, a question that seems particularly relevant as Supes has ceded the title of most popular hero to his one-time imitator Batman in a lot of the most pertinent metrics (comic book sales and box office earnings, for example).
Tye naturally alights on some of the most oft-cited reasons, including the psychological appeal of the incredible amount of wish-fulfillment Siegel and Shuster imbued their hero with — from being stronger than everyone else and able to fly to successfully leading a double life in which one persona is as accepted as the other persona dreams of being to the character’s unique relationship with the woman of his dreams — and the way the hero almost literally wrapped himself in the American flag and made himself synonymous with his home country.
While recounting the history of Superman, however, Tye reveals another obvious but less obsessed over reason. By a mixture of luck and his owners’ relentless pursuit of profits, Superman has managed to experiment with and conquer emerging media almost as immediately as they became viable — from the brand-new comic books of the late 1930s he segued easily into comic strips, and his was an early and huge hit radio program. He was in movie theaters with both cartoons and serials. He was on television in the 1950s, and between reruns and new shows, he never really left — live-action or animation or both at once, Superman is and always has been a television mainstay. Then, of course, there were feature films — Hollywood is riding a still-cresting wave of superhero blockbusters, and the next Superman feature is due next year, but there were Superman movies a full decade before there were superhero movies.
DC Comics is certainly in no hurry to quash rumors that celebrated Batman writer Scott Snyder is working on a Superman series that would tie into Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel. In fact, company executives appear to be encouraging the whispers — even if they stop just short of confirming them.
Rumblings of a possible Superman comic teaming Snyder with artist Jim Lee arose late last month out of Fan Expo Canada, and followed the publisher over the weekend to Baltimore Comic-Con, where DC’s Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne is said to have sidestepped questions on the subject. But in ICv2.com‘s monthly Q&A with Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham, the duo was a little more forthcoming. A little.
Asked to confirm that Snyder will tackle a Superman: Man of Steel series in 2013, Wayne replied, “I certainly won’t confirm that, but I will say that it is reasonable to assume that given the release of Man of Steel next summer, we will come up with a publishing program that will both augment and take advantage of that opportunity.”
If that weren’t clear enough, Cunningham added, “I think that ]a Scott Snyder Superman series] would be great. I’d read that.”
Clearly, DC thinks a lot of people would. With Zack Snyder’s franchise reboot opening June 14, 2013, the publisher still has plenty of time to announce a new series — y’know, if there is one.
The lawyer for the estate of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster asked a federal judge on Wednesday to reject DC Comics’ assertion that the artist’s relatives signed away all claims to the Man of Steel 20 years, saying the company would not have staked the ownership of “a billion-dollar property” on a one-page deal.
The hearing follows a tentative ruling last month by U.S. District Judge Otis Wright granting DC’s motion for partial summary judgment asking the court to enforce a 1992 agreement in which the estate relinquished all claims to the Man of Steel 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 with a $25,000 annual pension. The publisher argued that deal voids a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Warren Peary to reclaim the artist’s portion of the rights to the first Superman story in Action Comics #1.
However, Law 360 reports that Marc Toberoff, the attorney representing the Shuster estate and the family of Jerry Siegel, insisted during Wednesday’s arguments that DC didn’t intend for the “ambiguous” 1992 document to transfer ownership of the copyright. “I submit that it’s impossible for this document to be the basis for Warner Bros. and DC’s chain of title to a billion-dollar property,” he said. “When they want someone to assign a copyright, they have an agreement this thick, and that agreement is filed with the Copyright Office to give the world constructive notice.”
A jury will decide whether Warner Bros. Television owes the creators of Smallville as much as $100 million in allegedly lost profits for the long-running drama.
Series creators and executive producers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough and series producers Tollin/Robbins Productions sued WBTV in 2010, accusing the company of licensing Smallville to its co-owned WB and CW networks “for unreasonably low” fees, thereby cutting the plaintiffs out of tens of millions of dollars. They amended their claims of breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing earlier this year to include the allegation that WBTV’s sister company DC Comics was brought into the profit pool without the contractually required approval, greatly reducing the plaintiffs’ profit participation.
It’s been a while since I’ve been bowling, but these Batman bowling balls and pins from Bowlers Deals make me want to pick it up again. There are various balls and pins featuring Batman (who has three different designs), Robin, Batgirl, Joker, Penguin and Bane. Most of them have different images on the front and back, too. There’s also a bat-bowling bag, and you can buy the pins individually to create a uniform set of mix and match.
A 51-year-old man faces charges after a fight broke out Sunday during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, sending a panicked audience at a Pittsburgh-area theater fleeing for the exits.
While police were quick to note that the incident wasn’t connected to the Friday shooting in Aurora, Colorado, that left 12 dead and dozens wounded, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports an escalating argument, jittery nerves and a shout of “Gun!” led to the mad scramble for the doors.
According to police, the incident began in the restroom, where a rude child repeatedly knocked on the door of an occupied stall. The child swore at the man, who then confronted the mother, and eventually hit her in the face. That’s when someone shouted “Gun!” and triggered a panic among theater-goers. The unidentified man will be charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment.
Creators | While acknowledging the agreement that names Bob Kane as the sole creator of Batman, The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna and Bill: The Boy Wonder author Marc Tyler Nobleman make the case for giving writer Bill Finger a screen credit on The Dark Knight Rises. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Although Comic-Con International is usually thought of as a stage for movie studios, major comics publishers and video-game developers, Mark Eades looks at the event as a showcase for small businesses, from artists to toymakers. [The Orange County Register]
Conventions | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson reports on the kids’ comics scene at Comic-Con International, including news that Papercutz will produce a comic based on the viral web phenomenon “Annoying Orange.” [Publishers Weekly]