Comics Fans Are Scum

No sooner do I set down my copy of All-Star Superman #10, than I hear this news:

“After seventy years, Jerome Siegel’s heirs regain what he granted so long ago – the copyright in the Superman material that was published in Action Comics Vol. 1.”

Now that’s just a beautiful thing to read, isn’t it?


However, no sooner do I discover this wonderful story, but I also discover a related one that’s decidedly uglier, in the comments to this post.

And, words fail me, of course. So instead of ranting and raving about it, let me just take this moment to bow my head and silently thank whatever super-powers may be that the opinions of Newsarama trolls count for squat in this big, beautiful universe of ours.

You can join me, if you like.

Ahhhh…that’s better, right?

Amen. And: what fantastic news.

It’s a great day.


17 responses to “Comics Fans Are Scum

  1. As you know, I’m fond of comparing comic books to baseball, and there is an analogy here. Whenever there’s a labour dispute in baseball, there are fans (like me) who take the players’ side and fans who take the owners’ side.

    Now, there are arguments to be made for the owners, and I don’t begrudge them their profits. Just as there are arguments to be made for DC, and I don’t begrudge DC the money they’ve made from Superman over the years. But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about. Some baseball fans think the ballplayers are greedy, that they make too much money, and that they should all be glad to work for about fifty thousand a year and the owners deserve to keep all the millions in their own pockets. That’s my analogy.

  2. And it’s a good one. Even for frickin’ BASEBALL players.

    Little hockey joke, there.

    One of these days we’re going to have to sit everyone down and hammer out THE concise comeback, the sockdologer if you will, to anyone who makes under fifteen thousand dollars a year who habitually comes surging over the trenches into No-Man’s-Land in defence of anybody who makes over thirty million dollars a year (or month!) who’s being criticized in the slightest way. Just a few sentences, clearly explaining what that’s all about, where it comes from, and why they feel the need to be that particular sort of White Knight.

    I’m tired of being understanding about it. I want a stock retort to shut them up comprehensively. I don’t even want to know what would happen to me if I dared to criticize Bill Gates, or something. Probably have my throat slit by a bunch of guys who work part-time at a dollar store.

    (Have you got this stinkin’ never-go-away flu where you are, Matthew? Oh, the sinus pressure I’m enduring right now, it’s ridiculous. I literally stand in front of the mirror and ridicule myself for having it…)

    Seriously, I’m no Billy Bragg but COME ON! How many more years of my life am I going to have to put up with these bargain-bin Lancelots standing up for their billionaire Guineveres, and wearing their ladys’ favours in a locket next to their hearts? Worth about ninety-five cents, lockets or hearts, you pick ’em. It’s goddamn annoying. Someone needs to write a book about it.

  3. Also during the NHL strike (I mean LOCKOUT!), I never talked to a single person who supported the owners over the players. And I talked to a lot of people.

  4. “Well, I went to the JERK store, and they were all outta YOU!!!”

    (… no, that won’t work….)

    I really do hope that if the ruling stands, the Siegel heirs get to have regular confabs with James Robinson, Geoff Johns, Kurt Busiek, and Paul Levitz, just like they were going to the bank to make sure everything was still in the safe-deposit box. DC is still a co-owner of Superman and Lois Lane, and it owns a Fortress-sized chunk of other Superman material outright, but it’d be nice if this made it think more like a trustee of the material from Action #1.

  5. The real problem in this case (well… aside from the obvious fact that many comic-fans are absolute TOOLS) is that the “fans” are confused about what the judgement actually STATES;
    that the estate of the Seigle’s (and in a few years, soon to be the Shuster’s) have won COPYRIGHT over the material published in ACTION COMICS # 1.

    That’s IT.
    They won COPYRIGHT over that ONE issue.

    SO, that means that any time THAT issue is published, DC has to go through the estate and pay them a fee.

    Seems like a small price to pay for CONSTANTLY making a profit on a piece of work they paid a few bucks for 70 years ago.

    One Newsarama nimrod was tossing a “million dollar” figure for what DC would have to pay for EVERY APPEARANCE Superman would now ever make – to the estate.
    First of all, WHERE THE HELL did he pull THAT figure (yes, we know… his “FARTress of Solitude”).
    Secondly, he is obviously mistaking the ruling for one where the heirs were given complete TRADEMARK ownership of SUPERMAN as a whole entity.

    And MOST of those numbnuts were in the same wrong-minded herd.

    But the vehemence and bile that was being thrown around was sickening.
    Never mind the fact that the rights that Seigel & Shuster sold off in 1938 were done so in a time-frame where if you didn’t sell the rights, you didn’t get published. Period. (unless you had the cash to finance your OWN publication.) And, frankly, they couldn’t have known that they were inventing the “first”, “greatest” & most iconic superhero EVER.

    Yes, they won several cases over the years that granted them more monies for their creation, but still it wasn’t nearly the amount that it should probably have been.

    The fact that they were granted “by-lines”, years ago, for the character is fine and dandy. Yes. Every time you see Superman now, you see the “created by” line. But that still doesn’t factor in any more than an “attaboy”.

    Everyone knows that Lennon & McCartney wrote most of the Beatles songbook, but the sad fact is, they sold the rights to those songs when they were released.
    Now, Michael Jackson (in a dick move) & the estate o John Lennon (Yoko Ono) own the rights to the songs.
    I’ll give ONO a pass (hey, JOHN saw something in her. Who am I to argue?), but the fact that someone else was able to buy the rights to an artists creations is wrong, unless the artist goes into the sale FULLY AWARE.
    The Beatles had no idea that they were selling away their children (or their souls).
    It was done in a time where that’s the way it was done.
    You wanted to play, you sign on the dotted line.

    And THAT was 25 years AFTER the Seigel/Shuster incident (not that it hadn’t gone on before, during and long after their time as well).
    So, should the heirs to Seigel & Shuster just accept that their fathers made a poor decision in a time where no other decision was an option?

    DC (and Marvel) make PLENTY off of the creation of others.
    Yes, it’s long been an “accepted evil” of the “pay for play” marketplace, but the mistreatment JUST MIGHT be the reason why you don’t see many creators whipping up the next “Superman” readily for the big boys, opting to hand over lesser ideas and try to keep their big concepts for themselves (maybe to no avail).
    Sure, creator rights have come a long way, but not nearly enough when working in the “shared universe” of the big publishers.

    That’s why Marvel has the ICON imprint. Make your “big boys” happy, allowing them free reign on their own toys, in an attempt to placate them so as they continue to give Marvel what they want.
    Not a “big name” writer? Then you don’t get the key to that executive washroom. Sorry.

    So, that’s why some creators will still hold on to their own ideas and toil away in obscurity. It might be more honest to try and fail on your own than to hand over the gold ring to someone else for a pat on the back.

    REALLY didn’t mean to go on this long.
    I intended to stop before I even mentioned the Newsarama trolls.
    But then I just got ramped up.

    I’m done.


  6. Well said, P-Tor.

    I hate to sound like I’m agreeing with Joe Quesada, but this is another example of how many fans care more about their monthly dose of comics featuring their favorite characters than the men and women responsible for creating those selfsame characters.

    We should be grateful to S&S for bringing Superman to the world and support their efforts to get a fair share of the pie. But, for whatever reason, fans care more about their “shared universes.”

    At times, I’m unhappy that I am a forced to share a universe with these trolls.

  7. this is another example of how many fans care more about their monthly dose of comics featuring their favorite characters than the men and women responsible for creating those selfsame characters.

    Well, that’s only natural. You’ve just described me, for instance. I care about comic books because I know comic books. I read them all the time. I don’t care about the people who make them because I’ve never met them. That’s how our minds work.

    Doesn’t mean I don’t want the creators to get a fair deal. I do want them to. It just doesn’t happen to be where my emotional stake in this issue lies.

  8. Ah, yes. Of course, it seems that I may have misspoke.

    After re-reading quite a few articles on the ruling, it seems that the lawsuit ALSO grants the heirs proprietary rights, of a sort, to ANYTHING that is in that issue, including his costume (although, the costume in Action # 1 is a lot different than the one used today – is the change enough of a difference in the eys of the law? I dunno.), and some of his powers and such.

    So, IF Superman was drawn with “today’s” version of the “S” shield, DC would have to pay the estates a fee EVERY TIME they were going to use it for ANYTHING.


    That’s just mind-boggling.
    Awesome, yes, but perhaps a daunting thing to contemplate.

    So, IS the NEW “S” shield enough of a variation from the original to allow DC to use it freely?
    Again, I don’t have a clue.

    But, the suit does grant the creator’s families some significant rights in regards to the overall character of Superman.

    I’d imagine that the whole “CLARK KENT” thing is an issue now as well.
    What about the origin?
    I haven’t read any reprints of ACTION # 1 in many a year, so I don’t know if the whole “rocketed infant from doomed planet of Krypton who is raised by a Kansas family – the KENT’s” is in there.

    If so…WOW.
    That’s a heady brew.

    Anyway, I just wanted to come back and state that my initial summary of the Copyright issue might not be as cut and dried as I estimated it to be.

    It’s waaay too complex a thing as it stands now.
    At least for MY non-legal mind.


  9. There are some interesting … contingencies, for lack of a better term, between the Superman and Superboy suits. From what I remember, the Siegels’ Superboy suit claims in part that the Kents and the Smallville setting were developed more for Superboy. Thus, “Smallville” (the TV show) is a work “derived from” Superboy, and if the Siegel heirs have regained the Superboy copyright, they get a bite of “Smallville.”

    DC tried to get around that (not just with “Smallville,” but also the Legion cartoon and Superboy-Prime) through the whole “young Superman” thing — but now that the Superman rights have apparently gone back (at least in part) to the Siegel heirs, DC might have miscalculated.

    Personally, I think the real prize may turn out to be Lois Lane. Certainly she’s gone through fewer overall changes in the past 70 years than Superman has.

  10. I think Paul’s bought Michael Jackson out, P-Tor.

    I’ll be very interested to see how the bit with the costume works out myself. Lots of fascinating details here, not least the S-shield.

    Oh, my head. Must get soup…

  11. I refuse to follow that link to the Newsarama post on the grounds that I saw it all in sickening detail when it was Gerber and Marvel and I really just do not need to see the same pathetic crap all over again.

  12. Do what you need to do for your mental health, RAB…it’s an abyss, over there.

    Seriously, is it just that we live in an extraordinarily petty age, or a cynical one? Why do so many people despise the little guy so much? It’s all over Canada, too, and Britain — and perhaps it’s just “station in life”, but I’m not sure that’s all it is. My country’s full of self-loathing Canadians on barstools preaching that the war’s over, and we all lost…

    But fortunately, as I was saying, the universe doesn’t care what self-loathing barstool preachers think. Here we are, testing old copyright law and finding that it’s acting to ensure some sort of present equity after all; and the guy on the barstool looks like a damned fool, now.

    Rao be praised!

  13. Seriously, is it just that we live in an extraordinarily petty age, or a cynical one? Why do so many people despise the little guy so much?

    No dude, it’s just – present company excluded of course – people that talk about comics on the internet just suck.

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