The Legal View: Facebook vs Superman


DC’s latest filing in the Siegel case made headlines because of the company’s request for a trial. But was that really a surprise? In today’s post, we’ll look at what the filing reveals about DC’s not-so-secret war — and how the final fate of Superman may be determined by Facebook and the Winklevoss twins.

Court rules making your own Batmobile violates copyright — UPDATED


We’ve mentioned a few times here a lawsuit for copyright infringement by DC against an outfit called Gotham Garage, which sells replica Batmobiles—based on the ’60s Batman TV show in particular—as well as other vehicles based on famed fantasy cars, like the Mach Five.

If you were thinking of buying one, better hurry, because a judge has ruled that the Batmobile is subject to copyright.

Sherlock Holmes: A Comic Comparison


The past year has seen an unusually large number of Sherlock Holmes adaptations, both in comics and on the screen, but not all Holmeses are created equal. Last night, British viewers got to see the last episode of Season 2 of the BBC’s wildly popular starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows starring Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law is still doing well in theaters a month after it opened. So if you’re in a Holmesian mood and wondering what to read next, here’s run down on the Holmes adaptations which have come out or had new installments in the past year. Varying from inspiredly odd to unreadably awful, don’t go to the comic store without reading this first!

December 2011 Diamond Sales Estimates: Notable and Surprises


ICV2 has their December 2011 Diamond sales estimates up and the downward correction would appear to be continuing.

The big debating point here would be DC returnability. IIRC, Diamond’s been adjusting the numbers to allow for returns (10%?), but relatively few people believe that retailers are returning that much, when taken across the industry. So anything returnable is probably a little under-reported.

A Few Things To Look For In 2012


Right. My turn for the annual forward looking column. 2011 saw DC bet the house (and possibly the entire Direct Market) on a massive relaunch — and win. It also saw the emergence of digital downloads as a multi-platform trend that seems to be gaining momentum.

What should we be looking at in 2012?

The Year in Review: 2011


I look back and recall the interesting events of 2011. What’s my choice for the biggest event of 2011? Read and find out!

"Delighting Customers" Vs. "Maximizing Shareholder Value" – Applying a Forbes Article to Comics


The increasingly corporate nature of comics has been a continuing topic for the last couple years. Marvel sold to Disney. Warner pulling DC in a bit closer. Trying to maintain quarterly sales figures in a hit-based medium (also known as Events and/or line extension). Forbes has a piece called “The Dumbest Idea In The World: Maximizing Shareholder Value.” It’s partially a review and partially a response to the book “Fixing the Game:Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL.” This piece (and the book) contrasts the old Peter Drucker maxim “the only valid purpose of a firm is to create a customer” the current credo of “the singular goal of a company should be to maximize the return to shareholders.”

Matthias Wivel on Habibi and cultural criticism


Matthias Wivel is one of a trio of reviewers — Domingos Isabelinho and Ng Suat Tong are the other two — known for applying the most stringent possible personal standards to comics in their criticism. Thus, seeing Wivel come to the defense of HABIBI at The Hooded Utilitarian is a bit of a surprise — but he makes a plausible point. Running down a host of critical beatdowns administered on that site over stereotypes and gender issues, he says that “parts of the comics intelligentsia seem to be developing an unhealthy obsession with ideological readings of comics.”

The Legal View: The Missing Siegel Check


The most revealing development in the Siegel case since I last wrote for The Beat involves a check. Not the check issued to Siegel and Shuster in exchange for the Superman copyright, but one that DC has apparently* not written–payment to the Siegel family for Grant Morrison’s relaunch of Action #1.

Happy Birthday, Joe Simon


In a better world, I would not have learned of Joe Simon’s 98th birthday today via Facebook at 8 PM.

THE LEGAL VIEW: Superman vs. Clark Kent


My last post explored how continuities between the cover image of Action Comics #1 and subsequent material could give DC a substantial part of the copyright in the original Superman.  One question left unaddressed, however, was the issue of Clark Kent, not to mention other key elements of Superman’s character and mythos appearing in that historic first issue.

In this post, let’s take a quick look at that question and the role it could play in bringing this case to an end.

Court rules in favor of Marvel in Kirby copyright case — with text of ruling and depositions


A sad day for those who hoped, perhaps against hope, that Jack “The King’ Kirby’s heirs would get some of the money their father’s creations have made over the years. Characters including Captain America (created in the ’40s with Joe Simon), The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor– you know, if they called next year’s potential biggest-movie-of-all-time THE AVENEGRS “JACK KIRBY’S AVENGERS” they would not be far from the mark.

Deadline has analysis, seeing it as a big setback for lawyer Marc Toberoff, who has won many unlikely IP cases against giant studios in the past:

Captain America Tie-In Food: We Eat It So You Don’t Have To


Not since Star Trek waffles (I’m not kidding) has a movie had so many unconventional food tie-ins as Captain America: The First Avenger. Clearly this called for a review in the interest of science journalism. So while visiting my parents for the Fourth of July weekend, I decided an expedition into patriotic tie-in food was required and resolved to try and review it all, a project which revealed one vitally important fact – apparently Americans really, really like patriotic donuts.

The Legal View: From Superman to Supergods with Grant Morrison


By Jeff Trexler– In March 2008, Grant Morrison’s homage to Siegel and Shuster appeared in comic shops on the very same day that the Siegel heirs recaptured half the original Superman copyright.  Now Morrison is set to work his shaman’s magic once again in the September relaunch of Action #1–and this time, the Siegels could lose everything.

Morrison’s upcoming Supergods holds the key to understanding why. For an explanation and a sneak preview of Morrison’s new book, click below. A mysterious appeal, Joe Shuster’s super-swastika and the final crisis of the legal multiverse–this one has it all.

The Legal View: The Once and Future Superman


DC has cited its changes and additions to the Super-verse as grounds for reducing the Siegel heirs’s share of Superman material produced since 1999. A recent Variety article takes this even further, reporting thatNeil Gaiman’s success in winning co-ownership of Medieval Spawn provides legal precedent for giving DC complete ownership of the contemporary Superman, limiting the Siegels’ interest to the far less lucrative 1938 version of the character.

Does DC have strong legal grounds for splitting Superman between The Man of Tomorrow and The Man of Yesterday? Click below to see if Gaiman v. McFarlane is legal kryptonite for creators’ rights–or whether that’s just another misconceived retcon.

THE LEGAL VIEW: Super-style and the DCU Relaunch


Judging from the images released so far, it would appear that the relaunched versions of Superman and Superboy will be different from previous versions. Superman will no longer be wearing red shorts over his blue tights, and his belt, boots and S-symbol have also undergone notable alterations. Somewhat more dramatically, Superboy is sporting a black shirt and pants, a black-and-white S-shield mini-cape attached to his back, and a stylized red S-shield tattoo. It also appears that both characters will have significant changes in their continuity, most notably Superman’s age and his relationship with Lois Lane.

This changes in the Superman costume are in themselves not likely to provide a solid foundation for erasing the Siegel heirs’ ownership interest. However, the costume changes and other shifts in continuity are consistent with DC’s arguments for limiting what the Siegels now own.