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$130 worth of Superman

October 25, 2011

Thanks to Bleeding Cool (a comics blog) for putting this out there. I took the photo from them, and you should go check them out. This is a copy of the check written to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to purchase the rights to the character of Superman.

The check is for $412, and is itemized for different things, including $130 for Superman. Think about that for a second. $130 for Superman. Not even mentioning the 70+ years of comic books that’ve featured Superman, how much Superman stuff is there in the world that “Detective Comics, Inc.” (later DC comics, later purchased by Warner Bros.) bought the rights to for $130? How many movies, TV shows, lunchboxes, action figures, T-shirts and Underoos, peanut butter (look it up), theme park rides, and other things are out there because of Superman’s creation. Not to mention the whole concept of the “Super-Hero” in costume.

This is an amazing piece of history that’s going up for auction next month, having only recently been discovered.

Copyright of Superman and other properties from that era has been an interesting thing to watch, lately. Best that I understand it, which is sketchy, is that the rights to Superman, and lots of characters that Jack Kirby co-created (with Stan Lee, like the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, etc) have come under dispute because Siegel and Shuster sold the rights. Since Disney-led lawsuits have increased the length of copyright to almost double what they used to be (so as not to lose the exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse, who was created for the short film “Steamboat Willie” in 1929), what S&S sold to DC was not the true value of the property. The value has since changed because they were selling something for (this is me not looking any numbers up and rounding them up from memory) 50 years that now has been extended to have a life of 90 years. Because that value has changed, the original sale can be re-evaluated, which is why you hear about older comics creators suing comics publishers for properties that were sold 50 + years ago.

Anyway, this is pretty cool.

 

 

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