Sunday, January 08, 2012

Ay, Caramba! Superhombre!

Superhombre remains one of the more bizarre comic books never produced by DC Comics, and the cover for the actual ash-can is one of the more rarely seen of all of DC's output.  In the excellent summary of ash-cans compiled by Gary Coabuno and published in issue #71 of Comic Book Marketplace (September 1999), the title was described as existing with one known copy, in the collection of Charles Costas, with other copies possibly existing.  Oddly enough Gary stated in his article that the ash-can was dated April 1945, but the actual ash-can bears a generic date of 1944, and the actual registration date of the title is February 1945, as will be shown.  However you can trust me here, other copies do exist, and unlike Charles's copy, which was described as being too brittle to even be photocopied, this copy can now be shown.  But don't bother looking for Superhombre, the actual book was never on sale in the USA, although Superman was marketed as Superhombre in Spanish speaking countries.

The concept of Superhombre came to DC in 1944 as the success of Superman began to explode worldwide.  As the strip and comic book began to appear is countries such as Mexico and Argentina, along with Spain, the original English text was translated, hence Superman became Superhombre.  It didn't take all that long for Jacob Liebowitz to realise that someone could easily leap onto the title and produce a book for the English language market featuring a Spanish superhero.  As such an ash-can was quickly produced (apparently the ash-can has the contents of Superman #31) and the title duly registered with the Commissioner of Patents in the USA in August 1944.  As was the way of the time, the title was published in the Official Gazette on the 21st of November, 1944, and that was it.  DC never had to publish an actual comic book, but if anyone attempted to register the title they could show that they intended to publish the book, and point to the trademark registration documentation to prove it.

In January, 1945, the title was finally allowed for registration and the paperwork was forwarded to DC and the effective date assigned to the registration was February 6th, 1945.  From that point on it was a simple matter for DC to renew the registration when it was due, which they did, all the way through to 1985, when they offered a glimpse as to the cover of the ash-can, by supplying a variant cover to Superman #409, with the Superhombre image with an estimated five copies produced.

The original DC Comics ash-cans can fetch some insane amounts of money, with Colabuono reporting how he'd paid $15,000 for an ash-can of All-Star Comics in 1993.  It could be argued that there are more ash-cans out there, but until someone starts cracking into personal vaults and starts offering them for sale, all we have are scans (and documentation) such as this one.  Do bear in mind that DC protect their trademarks with a certain zeal, so anyone thinking of doing a Superhombre title in the near future had perhaps best think again.



The original 1944 ash-can
 
The original trademark statement, dated February 20, 1945, with an application date of August 26, 1944

The 1985 variant
The original 1944 application




The original registration dated February 1945
1961 renewal

1985 renewal

2 comments:

Mikeyboy said...

I remember when I was a boy and I was at the Doctors office there was a copy of an old Superman comic book. Superman was fat and was busting out of a phone booth.
There was a back up feature in that issue that had Clark visiting the comic book version of what I suppose was Cuba...there was a prison camp involved. When Supes appeared all the people cheered SUPER HOMBRE!!! So when I saw your post here today...I was taken back to that moment in time. Thanks for the fond memory and interesting piece. 2 birds one stone.

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