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Superman Obscurity - Superwoman by Rea Irvin!

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I doubt that many have ever heard of the Superwoman newspaper strip, as drawn by Rea Irvin. Don't worry if it's news to you, it ran once and was then binned after DC threatened legal action. Although it would be years before DC Comics published a comic under the name of Superwoman, they had taken steps to protect that trademark in late 1941. The Superwoman trademark was formally registered on May 5, 1942, with the usual fake ashcan. When it came to Irvin's strip, it was an open and shut case - stop publishing or face the consequences. And in 1943 those consequences would have been very expensive indeed. What is fascinating is that the shutdown came within hours of the strip being published.
For once, DC had the law on their side, as the trademark was solid and sealed. As would have been typical in such cases, the original art would have either been destroyed and noted as such, or handed over to DC Comics, who would have destroyed it themselves.

Superwoman ran in the Oakland …

The Original (Non) Superman - Mayo Kaan

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Do you remember Mayo Kaan? I'm betting that you don't. And you probably shouldn't, unless you were part of his family.
In 1973 Mayo appeared in newspaper claiming to have been the original model for Superman. He claimed to have met Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and was invited to pose for artist Joe Shuster who then drew Superman using Mayo's amazing physique.

People debated Kaan's claims for years to come. There were those who said it was likely, it could have happened, and those who said that it didn't, that Joe drew on his own, without using any models. Certainly his sister, Jean, who saw him draw, testified decades later that Joe never used Kaan as a model. Not to mention the thought of Jerry Siegel, who nobody has ever described as being a physically active man, was playing handball at a health club in 1936. Jerry was home, busily writing, and trying to sell his creation, that being Superman.
But people still debated, as people do, and lot of those people …

Jack Quayle and The Savage Club

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Another amazing, and recent, Australian art find and one that is now firmly in the collection.

An original Jack Quayle sketch on a letter, dated 26 June 1940, that he sent to The Savage Club in Adelaide accepting an invite to attend a luncheon.

 I don't think the Adelaide branch of the Savage Club exists anymore, if it does then I don't know where it is. I suspect that this was hanging on it's walls until it closed - the age of the frame it was in dates back to the 1950s - after which time someone merely took it home. There it remained until they passed on and it found its way into an auction. As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was and made sure it came home here, where it will be looked after until such a time when I send it on further in its journey.

I wonder what other artistic treasures lurk out there from such clubs that are now extinct? And what does happen to the artefacts that live on the walls of clubs and organisations which get removed after a period of time?

Australia's Worst Film Fire: The Park Street Explosion

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It remains of the most spectacular fires ever seen in Sydney’s CBD, but it is largely overshadowed by the Pastoral Finance Association Woolstore fire of December 1921, which gutted a seven story building at Kirribilli and racked up a bill of an estimated £600,000. 
Unlike the Pastoral Building, explosions tore through buildings meters away from the Town Hall and rained down a mixture of burning iron, film and molten tar, but, incredibly, the only fatalities were two cats. The damage bill went into the tens of thousands of pounds, but, more importantly, it remains the biggest loss of silent film ever seen in Australia, if not the entire southern hemisphere. It became known as the Overseas Film Service fire and it happened 98 years ago.
Walter Brown was the brainchild behind the Overseas Film Service. Brown was bornin New Jersey in 1873 and served with the New York police department where, according to his later memories, he was known for his incredible physical presence and strength, …

The World vs Todd McFarlane: Available Now on Amazon

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It’d be hard to find anyone interested in comic books and their history who hasn’t heard of Todd McFarlane’s legal woes, but very few outside of McFarlane’s immediate circle know just how many legal fights he was facing as the 1990s closed. 

Virtually all of McFarlane’s court cases came down to three decisions, made by him alone. 

The first was to name a mobster in his Spawn comic after a hockey player, Tony Twist. 

The second was to hire Neil Gaiman to write a single issue of Spawn and the third came when he decided to buy all the remaining assets from Eclipse Comics at their bankruptcy sale. 

The first decision led to the Tony Twist trial, last two choices lead to Neil Gaiman filing suit and, ultimately, winning a portion of the Spawn universe and the hotly sought after, by some, character Miracleman.

The Tony Twist trial was the beginning of a long, long period of uncertainty for Todd McFarlane and very nearly brought down the empire that he’d worked so hard to build. At its worst point…

In His Own Words: Alex Toth on Jon Fury

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You'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the comic book industry who hasn't heard the name Alex Toth. He was, and still remains, one of the pure geniuses that the medium has produced, and, depending on who you speak to, one of the crabbiest creators ever seen.  Personally, my correspondence with Toth, for the Andru & Esposito book, was nothing but pleasant. We talked about Australia, where Toth lived for a period in the early 1970s, and Ross Andru. It probably helped that I didn't ask him for anything, instead I sent him a copy of Bonzeras way of thanking him for replying, which, in an amazing piece of luck, arrived on his birthday. He was pleased with it and told me how emotional he'd gotten seeing the art and faces of the people he'd known and socialised with when he lived here.

As far as I'm concerned, Toth was a cool guy.

While in Sydney, in 1973, Toth kept up his correspondences with many people, including publisher Richard Kyle. Kyle was a friend of T…

The Creation of Superman: Jerry Siegel vs Jim Steranko 1973

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It’s a battle that could have been epic, but, instead, due to Jerry Siegel's reluctance to confront anyone, it’ll never be played out properly. All we have are Siegel's original comments and any replies that might come by from Jim Steranko.
In 1970, Jim Steranko published the first volume of his “The Steranko History of Comics”. This oversized magazine formatted book was heavy on text and was designed to be the first in a series that would give the true history of the comic book industry, from the very first superhero, Superman, through to the current day. Sadly, only two volumes were ever published, maddening really as they are a hoot to read and packed with great information and interviews, done by Steranko.
For years’ people have referred and recommended Steranko’s History books, and they quickly became very sought after and desired. But not everyone was happy with them. One person who was annoyed by Steranko’s telling of history was a man who featured heavily in the first…

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