Sunday, July 08, 2012

"A Curse On The Superman Movie!" - A Look Back At Jerry Siegel's 1975 Press Release


In 1975 Jerry Siegel, annoyed and frustrated over decades of living in poverty, decided to take the bull by the horns, prepared the following press release and released it to the media.  Naturally the mainstream media were never going to print it as is – far too long – but it had the desired effect.  News outlets sat up and took notice and began to sense that this was a story that had a lot of legs – the creators of Superman were poor and in ill-health, DC Comics were making millions and they were getting nothing.  Even better, or worse – depending on how you saw it – DC were standing to make even more money with the multi-million dollar budgeted movie, and it’s trickle down effect (increased sales of merchandise, comics and the like) and not a cent of that would be going to the two people whose vision had made it all possible. 

Siegel’s essay (really, it was an essay, not a press release per se) documented all of the issues that both he and Joe Shuster had faced, the legal battles, the broken promises and, most importantly, by singling out Jack Liebowitz, Siegel was able to give the whole sordid saga a human face – people finally had a name to chase, as opposed to a company which could hide behind corporate structures.  And the media lapped it up in spades!  

What helped Siegel and Shuster was the immediate involvement of Neal Adams and Jerry Robinson.  At the time Adams was potentially the most important artist working both in and out of the comic book industry.  Highly lauded for his realistic approach and dynamic line work, Adams made an impact upon comic books and artists in the same way that Jack Kirby did before him.  Whereas Adams generation will say that Kirby was the primary influence, those who followed will often point towards Neal.  Jerry Robinson was no slouch either.  Recognised as the co-creator of Robin and the Joker (or sole creator if you like – debate that with DC and Bob Kane’s family), Robinson had turned his back on the comic book industry but retained an incredible amount of insider knowledge and, more importantly, both men were far more articulate than Siegel and Shuster.  And both had influence and used it.  Once they got involved they drew in others and got the story both in print and on the electronic media, namely the Tom Snyder Show, a nationally syndicated television talk show of the time.  DC were never going to win this, and, to their credit, they approached the duo and worked out a pension plan complete with medical and health benefits and hoped it’d all go away.

It did go away, for a while, but it eventually resurfaced.  It’s incredible to think that Jerry Siegel first filed suit against DC Comics in 1947 and now, in 2012, sixty five years later, lawsuits over ownership and money still surround Superman and there’s no sign of them abating in the near future, but when there’s millions of dollars at stake, people are always going to want it.

Here is the complete text of Jerry Siegel’s 1975 press release, complete with letters and documents, in some cases the actual letters that Siegel refers to in his essay.  One day Superman might be free, but it may not happen in our lifetime.  


It has been announced in show business trade papers that a multi-million dollar production based on the Superman comic strip is about to be produced. It has been stated that millions of dollars were paid to the owners of Superman, National Periodical Publications, Inc., for the right to use the famous comic book super-hero in the new movie. The script is by Mario Puzo, who wrote The Godfather and Earthquake. The film is to have a star-filled cast.

I, Jerry Siegel, the co-originator of Superman, put a curse on the Superman movie! I hope it super-bombs. I hope loyal Superman fans stay away from it in droves. I hope the whole world, becoming aware of the stench that surrounds Superman, will avoid the movie like a plague.

Why am I putting this curse on a movie based on my creation of Superman?

Because cartoonist Joe Shuster and I, who co-originated Superman together, will not get one cent from the Superman super-movie deal.

Superman has been a huge money-maker for 37 years. During most of those years, Joe Shuster and I, who originated the character Superman, got nothing from our creation, and through many of those years we have known want, while Superman'S publishers became multimillionaires.

Read the following and you will get some idea of how it feels to create one of the most successful fiction characters of all time...and be cheated out of your share of its profits.

The publishers of Superman comic books, National Periodical Publications, Inc., killed my days, murdered my nights, choked my happiness, strangled my career. I consider National's executives economic murderers, money-mad monsters. If they, and the executives of Warner Communications which owns National, had consciences, they would right the wrongs they inflicted on Joe Shuster and me.


A CURSE ON THE SUPERMAN MOVIE!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Re: THE VICTIMIZATION OF SUPERMAN'S ORIGINATORS, JERRY SIEGEL AND JOE SHUSTER, BY:
Jack Liebowitz, Warner Communications
National Periodical Publications, Inc.
Independent News Company (Distributor of Superman comic books)

Jack Liebowitz, a member of the Board of Directors of Warner Communications, stabbed Joe Shuster and me, Jerry Siegel, in the back

He ruined our lives, deliberately, though Joe and I originated Superman, which enriched Liebowitz and his associates.

Liebowitz is extremely wealthy from Superman. But Joe Shuster (the artist) and I (the writer) have received nothing from Superman's phenomenal success most of the 37 years in which our creation Superman has been a great money-maker for National Periodical Publications, Inc., which is owned by Warner Communications.

Joe is partially blind.    My health is not good. We are both 61 years old. Most of our lives, during Superman's great success, has been spent in want.

How did back-stabber Liebowitz sucker us into this tragic plight? J.S. Liebowitz introduced himself to me in a letter dated December 1, 1937, in which he wrote he was giving his "definite assurance" that he would deal with me "without any trouble such as you have been experiencing in the past." Previously I had dealt with a publisher-associate of his, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson.

In 1933, while still in high school, Joe and I created Superman in our homes in Cleveland, Ohio, at our own initiative and expense. This was years before we had any arrangement or dealings with back-stabber Liebowitz or his company. For almost six years all our hopes and dreams were concentrated on working on and developing Superman. We were determined in our efforts and refused to let anything or anyone discourage us.

In 1935, Nicholson offered to publish Superman in a comic book, but Joe and I rejected his publishing offer. In 1938, Joe and I accepted Liebowitz's offer to publish Superman because of Liebowitz's written and oral assurances that we could place our trust and confidence in him and deal with him "without any trouble."

In the first year of Superman's publication, when Superman earned a fortune for its publishers and became a smash hit, Joe and I earned less than $15.00 a week apiece from Superman.

We were paid $10.00 per comic book page. That was $5 per page apiece to Joe and me. When I learned that Superman was a success, like Oliver Twist asking for more porridge, I requested of Liebowitz that Joe and I be paid more than peon rates for our Superman creation.
 

I received the following response from the cheapskate who had assured me l would deal with him "without any trouble"...

On September 28, 1938, J.S. Liebowitz wrote to me: "Now, in reply to your letter. Frankly, when 1 got through reading it, it took my breath away. I did not anticipate that when I asked you to come to New York to discuss this matter of newspaper syndication, that you would want to take advantage of this visit and try to boost your price on 'Superman'."

I took the cheapskate's "breath away" by asking the businessman that Joe and I get more than $15 a week apiece because of the success of our creation Superman.

Liebowitz continued, in his letter: "You must bear in mind, Jerry, that when we started Action Comics, we agreed to give you $10.00 a page, which is $4.00 a page more than anyone else is getting for any features in any of our four books. In addition, we're paying you $9.00 and $10.00 a page for the other four features you are drawing for us-again $3.00 and $4.00 a page more than we are paying any other artist. Where you got the idea that anyone was receiving $15.00 a page I'd like to know.

“As far as the popularity poll is concerned, we have approximately 300 letters in reply to this contest. If you were so observant, you may have seen that the majority of these letters have not been opened as yet and I don't know whether 'Superman' heads the list or 'Zatara' or any other feature carried in this book. If you based the popularity of your strip on the basis of 300 replies, you are grossly exaggerating the importance of 'Superman'. Don't forget that there are 64 pages in the magazine and that there isn't any magazine being published today that can sell on the basis of any one feature, whether that feature is Popeye, Mickey Mouse, or any other top-notch strip and if I thought for a moment that our magazine depended on your strip, I would certainly make every effort to avoid any such situation."

Liebowitz continued, in his letter: "As a matter of fact, we have today opened the other mail on the poll and we have found that 25% indicated 'Zatara' to be their favorite feature, 20% like 'Pep Morgan', 15% like 'Tex Thompson' and only 30% have designated 'Superman' as their favorite, the balance being scattered among the other features in the magazine, so come off your high horse."

Joe and I were earning less than $15 a week apiece from Superman and because we wanted to earn a decent living from our creation Superman, Jacob S. Liebowitz demanded "come off your high horse."

I will continue quoting from this letter written by the man who is on the Board of Directors of Warner Communications.

Liebowitz continued, in his letter of September 28, 1938: "Is it possible that because we treated you like a HUMAN BEING - you suddenly got a swell head? It may also be that you are under the mistaken delusion that because you came into town to a large organization, which gave you time and showed you every courtesy which would be accorded to any big personage, you construed all these actions in the wrong light, that we were trying to get something from you. The case is distinctly the reverse. We were trying to give you, an inexperienced young man, the benefit of our experience and good will, in order that you get ahead in your ambition to become somebody in the comic field.

"Don't get the idea that everyone in New York is a 'GYP' and a HIGHBINDER and because you are treated as a gentleman and an EQUAL not only by ourselves but by Mr. Gaines and the McClure people, that WE ARE SEEKING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU."

Was it Shakespeare who wrote, "The man protesteth too much?"

Note that Liebowitz referred to me as an "inexperienced young man".

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines "gyp" as: "CHEAT, SWINDLER".

The same dictionary defines "highbinder" as: "A corrupt or scheming politician."

Liebowitz continued, in his letter: "The amount of increase you demand does not hurt me as much as your attitude in the entire matter. I don't want to be too harsh about it, because I realize that because of your inexperience you have made an unfair request. You will learn you have been very fortunate in meeting up with people who are looking out for your interest as well as their own."

In stating I was "very fortunate in meeting up with people who are looking out for your interest as well as their own" Liebowitz' was again assuring Joe Shuster and me that we could place our TRUST in him.

 

Joe and I had been extremely confident Superman would be a huge success because we felt we had created a character which would have tremendous appeal. I wrote in the final panel of Superman in ACTION COMICS No. 1, June, 1938 issue, the banner headline: "AND SO BEGINS THE STARTLING ADVENTURES OF THE MOST SENSATIONAL STRIP CHARACTER OF ALL TIME: Superman!")

Liebowitz wrote to me that no magazine was published on the basis of one feature: "I would certainly make every effort to avoid any such situation, and he spoke of my "grossly exaggerating the importance of 'Superman.' "Before long, Superman was published in its own magazine.

In his letter of August 16, 1938, Liebowitz wrote to me: "So you see, Jerry, we are living up to our promise to you and in time we will be in a position to capitalize on these efforts." This referred to Liebowitz's promise that he would look out after the interests of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.

In his letter to me of June 8, 1938, Liebowitz wrote of "all of us" benefitting from Superman.

In his letter to me of January 23, 1940, Jack Liebowitz again stated his position that Joe Shuster and I need not worry about "rights," that we could trust him to protect our interests. He wrote: "Get behind your work with zest and ambition to improve and forget about book rights, movie rights and all other dreams...We'll take care of things in the proper manner."


A new Superman movie is now about to be produced. It has been publicized that National has been paid millions of dollars for the rights to produce the movie about Superman, the creation of Joe and me. Joe and I have not received one cent from those millions of dollars, though, in connection with movie rights, Liebowitz promised Joe and me, "WE'LL TAKE CARE OF THINGS IN THE PROPER MANNER."

We believed Liebowitz's assurances and his representations not to worry about rights but to rely on his personal Integrity.

Liebowitz proceeded to violate our good faith, which he had aroused with his written and verbal protestations and promises of integrity upon his part; he dealt with us unfairly, in violation of his promises to protect our interests.

In 1940 Superman appeared on radio. In 1941, Paramount Pictures began to release what eventually amounted to 18 Superman animated cartoons. In his letter of June 27, 1941, Liebowitz stated: "Under the terms of our contract you are entitled to a percentage of the net profits accruing from the exploitation of Superman in channels other than magazines. These figures for the last year show that we lost money, and therefore you are entitled to no royalties. However, in line with our usual generous attitude toward you boys, I am enclosing a check for $500 which is in effect a token of feeling."

The book, 1953 Copyright Problems Analyzed describes, in one of its sections, the actions and posture of unscrupulous publishers who while cheating contributors, hypocritically pretended to have hearts of gold. Here is a quote from page 33: "Thus, the publisher was the 'GENEROUS man' who would 'take care of the BOYS'."

Liebowitz lumped himself in the aforementioned fetid category of unscrupulous exploiters when he wrote, in the letter quoted above: "However, in line with our usual GENEROUS attitude toward you BOYS..."

In his letter dated September 11, 1945, Liebowitz wrote: "As far as radio and licensing is concerned, Kellogg's Pep is still sponsoring the program. They recently renewed for another thirteen week period and while we are not making much money through this source, we feel it has a beneficial effect in keeping the character before the public."

Liebowitz said they were "not making much money" from radio but according to the statement of Radio and Licensing that was part of Exhibit 62 in the Westchester case, National's income from Radio and Licensing totalled $149,323.11 for the year 1945. $133,154.88 of that amount was from radio.

Up until just before the Westchester trial in the late 1940s, when it was clear there would be a lawsuit, National had not even furnished annual statements to us showing income derived from subsidiary sources to which Joe and I were contractually entitled. Referee Young ruled that we were entitled to an accounting.

In July, 1943, I was drafted into the United States Army during World War II. It was at this time that National took over production of the Superman material. When I got out of the Army, National refused to return full production of all Superman material to Joe Shuster and me, though our contract specified we were to supply and furnish all Superman material. Taking the exclusive art and script production away from us against the terms of our agreement, not only injured us economically but caused us great mental distress.

During the time I was In the  Army overseas, and in no position to protect my interests, Detective Comics, Inc. published Superboy, which I had earlier created and submitted for consideration to Detective Comics, Inc., the predecessor corporation of National. Detective and Liebowitz published Superboy without any notification or compensation to me, thus precipitating the Westchester action. Had Liebowitz kept his word and treated Joe and me ethically, instead of rewarding our talent and hard work with unfair trade practices, we would have had no difficulty and would not have been manoeuvred into initiating the Westchester action in defense of our interests.

Liebowitz and associates of National (Detective) stole the character Superboy from me. The court ruled they acted illegally in publishing Superboy without right.
22nd of March, 1947, the Melbourne Argus. News of Siegel and Shuster filing suit went worldwide.

I now refer you to the Westchester case Interlocutory Judgement which was "Exhibit E" to National's Answer and part of the record in the recent renewed action against National. The Interlocutory Judgement enjoined the defendants (National) in regard to Superboy, from using Superboy. It declared and adjudged "that plaintiff SIEGEL is the originator and the sole owner of the comic strip feature Superboy, and that plaintiff as the originator and owner of the comic strip feature Superboy has the sole and exclusive right to create, sell and distribute comic strip material under the title Superboy, of the type and nature heretofore published under that title, and of the nature described in plaintiffs' exhibits 16 and 36."

I quote from the Decision of J. Addison Young, Official Referee, in the 1947 Westchester case: "It is quite clear to me however, that in publishing Superboy, the Detective Comics, Inc. acted illegally. I cannot accept defendants view that Superboy was in reality Superman. I think Superboy was a separate and distinct entity. In having published Superboy without right, plaintiffs are entitled to an injunction preventing such publication and under the circumstances I believe the defendants should account as to the income received from such publication and that plaintiffs should be given an opportunity to prove any damages they have sustained on account thereof. The defendant, Detective Comics admits owing plaintiffs over $3,000 for publishing Superboy but this amount is calculated on a basis not binding upon the plaintiffs. I also think that plaintiffs are entitled to an accounting as demanded in their Eighth cause of action."

In other words, it was proven in court that Detective Comics, Inc. (Liebowitz and associates) had stolen Superboy from me. The Eighth cause of action concerned Detective (Liebowitz and associates) cheating Joe and me out of Superman character merchandising outcome.

Superboy was stolen from me...

On September 28, 1938, Jack Liebowitz wrote to me, using the words "GYP" and “HIGH-BINDER" and he assured me he and his associates were not the type of corporate criminals who would be "SEEKING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU."

Again: Webster defines "GYP" as: "CHEAT, SWINDLER".

Webster defines "highbinder" as: "A corrupt or scheming politician."

Liebowitz, professing high integrity, assured me in the September 28, 1938 letter, "You will learn you have been very fortunate in meeting up with people who are looking out for your interest as well as their own."

Joe and I trusted Liebowitz and Detective and National to look out for our interest. Instead, Superboy was STOLEN, and Joe and I were CHEATED out of Superman subsidiary income royalties.

Also concerned in the 1947 case was Detective Comics, Inc. publishing "Lois Lane, Girl Reporter" and carrying the byline, "By Jerry and Joe", without any compensation being paid to us. In addition, Joe and I complained that Detective had unfairly competed with the creation of Joe and I, Superman, with imitative features such as Johnny Quick, The Flash, Green Lantern, Air-Wave, Hour-Man, Wonder Woman, Star-Man, Dr. Fate, Hawkman, The Ultra-Men, etc.

Back in March 1, 1940, Jack S. Liebowitz wrote in response to a letter of protest from me: "I don't agree with you that the Hour Man is a copy of Superman. It would be definitely against our better interest to have an imitation of Superman in our books, in spite of the fact that all competing magazines carry an imitation of Superman."

National Periodical Publications, Inc. is now publishing in competition to Superman, the character Captain Marvel, in the comic book SHAZAM, and the character appears on TV; years ago, National proved in court that Captain Marvel, then published by a rival publisher, had plagiarized Superman.

First National put Captain Marvel out of business for plagiarizing Superman, and now National profits from publishing that plagiarism in competition to Superman. Yet, back in March 1, 1940, Liebowitz wrote to me: "IT WOULD BE DEFINITELY AGAINST OUR BETTER INTEREST TO HAVE AN IMITATION OF Superman IN OUR BOOKS, IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT ALL COMPETING MAGAZINES CARRY AN IMITATION OF Superman." Captain Marvel was and is an imitation of Superman.

For years, Joe Shuster and I have received NOTHING from Superman, WHILE National has earned more wealth from publishing not only Superman, but imitations of Superman.

I repeat, Joe is partially blind, my health is not good, he and I are 61 years old.

Three of the most famous literary creations in publishing history are Tarzan (created by Edgar Rice Burroughs), Sherlock Holmes (created by A. Conan Doyle), and Superman (created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.)

Edgar Rice Burroughs and his estate profited hugely from TARZAN. A. Conan Doyle and his estate profited hugely from SHERLOCK HOLMES. Yet Joe and I have not only been cheated and ruined by National, but for most of the 37 years of Superman's publication we have received NOTHING from our creation.

And yet, we were told by Liebowitz that he and his associates were ethical and could be trusted to look out after the interests of Joe Shuster and me, Jerry Siegel.

I could write a great deal more, but this should give you an idea of the mentality of Jack S. Liebowitz who lured Joe and me into signing agreements with the assurance Joe and I were "very fortunate in meeting up with people who are looking out for your interest as well as their own", then proceeded to cheat us and destroy our happiness and careers.

The people who cheated Joe and me, as well as their heirs, enjoy the wealth Superman earned and is earning...Superman's current exploiters, including publisher, editors, writers and artists derive big incomes from Superman.

Joe and I suffer...we think of little else, and it makes us miserable to see how our families suffer, too.

So National owns Superman. But what of the two men, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who originated Superman? Is it right that we get NOTHING from the great success of our Superman creation?

Quoting from a letter written by Joe Shuster: "I had assumed, like Jerry Siegel, that when we signed with Detective, we would be dealt with fairly, that 'fair dealing' was implicit in our several agreements with Detective. We did not forsee that our creation would be taken away from us, our by-lines stripped from us, and a host of other writers and artists brought in, first to compete with us and then to replace us.

"We still find it hard to comprehend how it is possible that we, the creators of what has been called 'one of the most phenomenal success stories of the twentieth century', have been totally and completely deprived and divested of our work by a web of legal technicalities and then abandoned."

What type of mentality up at National Periodical Publications, Inc. could have done this to us and now permits such an injustice to continue? The ideals which made Superman one of the top comics properties of all time, and caused its creation... namely compassion and a desire to help the oppressed...has been turned into a money-making machine by the organization which callously ruined the lives of Joe and me and deprived us of the fruits of our creation Superman.

The Superman slogan that National has hypocritically cashed in on is "Truth, Justice and the American Way."

The people who exploit and profit from Superman are greedy and selfish. They cheated Joe and me and continue to earn more wealth while Joe and I, the originators of Superman, suffer day after day after day.

When I told Liebowitz that Joe and I were being treated unjustly economically in regard to Superman, Liebowitz tried to justify his position by stating Detective had gambled a $30,000 investment in producing Action Comics, in which Superman was published.

I now quote from the book 1953 Copyright Problems Analyzed, in the article "Protective Societies for Authors and Creators" by William Klein II, (page 50) which casts a revealing light on the argument of a publisher with the Liebowitz mentality:  “Hollywood was [and is] a fabulous place where wealthy film producers had a lot of money to throw around. They would buy scripts outright—you might almost say they bought the writers, too. For this they had an argument that seemed reasonable to some. They had to have all rights because of their tremendous investment in a motion picture had to be protected, not just here but throughout the world. The essence of this argument, the big investment to protect I might remark in passing, underlies the position of users in every field, whether books, radio or the like. Writers and their societies do not contest the conclusion which is sought to be drawn namely that the only way the users' investment can be protected is by granting him all rights in the particular work. I don't think I am giving away any trade secrets by saying that I believe the basic goal of the creator—regardless of his field—is that he should give up only those rights which are necessary for the purpose to which the use is intended, and then only so long as those rights are used and paid for."

National paid $130 for the first episode of Superman then sent Joe and me a release to Superman, for us to sign. The $130 was already owing to us for the material. The official referee in the Westchester case decided, “…the real consideration was plaintiffs' express desire and Detective Comics, Inc. concurrence in that desire to see Superman in print. When Detective Comics, Inc. accepted Superman for publication and published it, it furnished the true consideration for the agreement of March 1st, 1938."

If merely seeing Superman in print was "consideration" enough for Siegel and Shuster to agree to publication and accept an agreement, then we would have eagerly accepted Nichol-son's offer (a previous publisher) which the record shows we did not do. My statement that Joe Shuster and I had rejected Nicholson's offer to publish Superman was entered as an exhibit at the Westchester trial. It is clear that Judge Young did not notice my statement. His error of omission on a purely factual matter led to a miscarriage of justice.

For about 12 years, Joe and I sought the renewal rights to Superman, until just recently, the copyright renewal term rights.

In April of 1975, Joe and I agreed not to take our case to the Supreme Court, because we were informed by our attorney that if we did not do so, he had been informed, National would then consider making a financial arrangement which would benefit Joe and me. Again, we placed our trust and faith in the good intentions, fairness and generosity of National.

It is six months since then. At this current writing, there has been nothing offered. We hope we have not been victimized into giving up our rights to appeal to the Supreme Court without receiving anything in return.

Joe and I have been the victims of a monstrous injustice. The double-dealing, the chicanery, the sharp practices and guilt of National are clear.

All Joe and I can do is appeal to someone like you to do whatever you can to aid our cause, and for us to publicize our plight.

The copyright law, which provides for two separate terms of 28 years, was enacted to protect creators, such as Joe and me, from the type of situation we are in.

The creation of Superman, more than any other single event, was responsible for the comic book business as it exists today, creating employment for artists, writers, editors, executives, and others connected with comic book publishing.

Since his first appearance over 37 years ago, our character Superman has been known as a symbol for JUSTICE, the champion of the helpless and oppressed, the physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need.

We, the creators of Superman, believe it is time for the publishers of Superman to end the great inequity and injustice, which now exists. Joe Shuster and I shall not rest in our present position.

You hear a great deal about The American Dream.

But Superman, who in the comics and films fights for "truth, justice and the American Way," has for Joe and me become An American Nightmare.

What led me into conceiving Superman in the early thirties?

Listening to President Roosevelt's "fireside chats"...being unemployed and worried during the depression and knowing hopelessness and fear. Hearing and reading of the oppression and slaughter of helpless, oppressed Jews in Nazi Germany ...seeing movies depicting the horrors of privation suffered by the downtrodden...reading of gallant, crusading heroes in the pulps, and seeing equally crusading heroes on the screen in feature films and movie serials (often pitted against malevolent, grasping, ruthless madmen) I had the great urge to help...help the despairing masses, somehow.

Now could I help them, when I could barely help myself?

Superman was the answer. And Superman, aiding the downtrodden and oppressed, has caught the imagination of a world.

But for most of 37 years the incredible wonder of Superman, his ideals, his accomplishments, have been turned around, like in a ghoulish farce, not only against me, but Joe, too, who had conceived the physical, mystical form of Superman in his artwork.

Superman's publishers have mercilessly gouged Joe and I for their selfish enrichment, stealing our incomes and careers from us derived from Superman, because of their greedy desire to monopolize the fruits of the Superman creation. I can't flex super-human muscles and rip apart the massive buildings in which these greedy people count the immense profits from the misery they have inflicted on Joe and me and our families. I wish I could. But I can write this press release and ask my fellow Americans to please help us by refusing to buy Superman comic books, refusing to patronize the new Superman movie, or watch Superman on TV until this great injustice against Joe and me is remedied by the callous men who pocket the profits from OUR creation. Everyone who has enjoyed our creation Superman and what he stood for, those of you who believe that truth and justice should be the American Way, can help us.

I repeat, Captain Marvel was branded plagiaristic in court. Fawcett Publications had originally published Captain Marvel. National put Captain Marvel out of business for plagiarizing Superman, and now National cashes in on that plagiarism by publishing Captain Marvel in the SHAZAM comic book in competition to Superman. The following is quoted from Copyright Decisions, 1951-1952, Pg. 251, National Comics Publications, Inc. v. Fawcett Publications Inc., et al: "L. HAND, Circuit Judge. The judge…On the other hand he found that, in publishing the exploits of 'Captain Marvel' in 'Whiz Comics' and its other magazines. 'Fawcett' copied from `strips'—a 'strip' consists of a series of pictures carrying legends—which had appeared in 'Action Comics', and had done so with the degree of detail which in Detective Comics v. Bruns Publications, 2 Cir., 111 F.2d 432, we found to infringe earlier copyrights of 'Superman' by another plagiarist. The evidence does much more than show that this finding was not 'clearly erroneous'; IT LEAVES NO POSSIBLE DOUBT THAT THE COPYING WAS DELIBERATE; INDEED IT TAKES SCARCELY MORE THAN A GLANCE AT CORRESPONDING 'STRIPS OF 'Superman' AND 'CAPTAIN MARVEL' TO ASSURE THE OBSERVER THAT THE PLAGIARISM WAS DELIBERATE AND UNABASHED."

As far as Joe and I are concerned, we have been victimized by evil men and a selfish, evil company which callously ruined us and appears to be willing to abandon us in our old age, though our creation Superman has made and continues to make millions for them. Newspaper articles state National was paid $3,000,000 for the rights to make the Superman movie and that $15,000,000 will be spent to produce the movie. And the originators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, are not to receive one cent.

WHAT AN INFERNAL, SICKENING SUPER-STENCH EMANATES FROM NATIONAL PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS, INC. We hope the public will never forget this when seeing the Superman character, or National Periodical comic books. Do not patronize Superman because of this injustice. 

3 comments:

Mark Mayerson said...

Your headline should say Jerry Siegel, not Joe Siegel.

Norm Breyfogle said...

‎"Truth, Justice and the American Way." Ha! "Christ on a spike", is more like it. And right-wing authoritarians wonder why I see the business world as a conspiratorial charnel house run by sociopaths.

Daniel Best said...

Mark, all fixed and I hang my head in shame at such a simple error.

Norm - amen!