MARCH 27, 2012
By Geroge Gene Gustines
New York Times
Is a check for $412 really worth $412? That’s a question that has comic book fans intrigued this week. The check in question is the one endorsed by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster when they signed over their rights for creating Superman, whose adventures are published by DC Comics. Now the auction site Comicconnect.com is putting the check up for sale. The auction began on Monday and ends on April 16. The 12 bids have already pushed the price to $25,500.
The check includes an accounting: $130 for the rights to Superman, $210 for stories in Detective Comics and two $36 payments for stories in More Fun and Adventure Comics. The back of the check includes a stamp from a United States District Court from 1939, when it was used as evidence by DC Comics in its successful copyright infringement lawsuit against Victor Fox, a publisher who unveiled Wonder Man, a champion created by Will Eisner. That wondrous hero, DC Comics said, was too similar to the Man of Steel.
The signing away of the rights to Superman long plagued his creators, and their heirs have been waging a court battle to restore their claim on the copyright. In March 2008 a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that the heirs of Mr. Siegel were entitled to claim a share of the United States copyright to the Superman character. Time Warner, which owns DC Comics, would keep the international rights to the character. On Monday, The Hollywood Reporter said that Warner Brothers Studios and DC Comics had filed a brief before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to try to hold on to all rights to the character.