More comic book legal troubles to talk about this week! Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that the estate of Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman, wouldn’t be able to reacquire his half ownership of the beloved character. This ruling came about due to a deal struck in 1992 with DC Comics and Warner Brothers by Shuster’s sister and estate controller, Jean Peavy.
As is the case with many early comic creators, Shuster and his Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel were given a bum deal by a publisher. In exchange for their character, DC Comics, then known as National Comics Publications, awarded them with a mere $130 and a writing contract. Eventually, they made an attempt to regain control of their creation (and others, like Superboy); however, they were never fully victorious. Their respective estates continue to fight for them.
Back in 2008, a federal judge ruled that, but Shuster’s wasn’t so lucky. The deal that Peavy made with DC was this: for a $25,000 per year pension and the payment of her brother’s debts, neither she nor her family would ever attempt to secure their portion of the Superman rights.
The back-and-forth over the rights to Superman will likely never end. On November 5, DC will go before the 9th Circuit Appeals Court in Washington, D.C. to attempt to reverse the 2008 decision regarding the Siegel Estate being able to reclaim their half of the character. Oh, and of course, the Shuster Estate plans on appealing yesterday’s ruling.
I can’t help but wonder what Superman would think of all this fighting. Can’t we all just get along?