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Jerry Siegel

Jerry Siegel in 1976
Born Jerome Siegel
October 17, 1914(1914-10-17)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died January 28, 1996 (aged 81)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer
Pseudonym(s) Joe Carter,
Jerry Ess,
Herbert S. Fine
Notable works Superman, Action Comics #1
Awards Inkpot Award, 1975
The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame, 1992
The Bill Finger Award For Excellence In Comic Book Writing, 2005

Jerome "Jerry" Siegel (October 17, 1914 – January 28, 1996[1]), who also used pseudonyms including Joe Carter,[2] Jerry Ess,[2] and Herbert S. Fine, was the American co-creator of Superman (along with Joe Shuster), the first of the great comic book superheroes and one of the most recognizable of the 20th century.

Contents

Early life

The son of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, Siegel was the youngest of six children. His father Mitchell Siegel (née Mikhel Segalovich) was a sign painter who opened a haberdashery and encouraged his son's artistic inclinations. Mitchell died of a heart attack brought on by the robbery of his store, when Jerry was in junior high school.[3][4] Siegel was a fan of movies, comic strips, and especially science fiction pulp magazines. He became active in what would become known as fandom, corresponding with other science fiction fans, including the young future author Jack Williamson. In 1929, Siegel published what might have been the first SF fanzine, Cosmic Stories, which he produced with a manual typewriter and advertised in the classified section of Science Wonder Stories. He published several other booklets over the next few years.

Siegel attended Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio and worked for its weekly student newspaper, The Torch. He was a shy, not particularly popular student, but he achieved a bit of fame among his peers for his popular Tarzan parody, "Goober the Mighty." At about age 16, while at Glenville, he befriended his later collaborator, Joe Shuster. Siegel described his friendship with the similarly shy and bespectacled Shuster:

When Joe and I first met, it was like the right chemicals coming together.[1]

The writer-artist team broke into comics with Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson's landmark New Fun, debuting with the musketeer swashbuckler "Henri Duval" and the supernatural-crimefighter strip Doctor Occult in issue #6 (Oct. 1935).

Superman

Siegel and Shuster created a bald telepathic villain named "The Superman," bent on dominating the entire world. He appeared in the short story "The Reign of the Super-Man" from Science Fiction #3, a science fiction fanzine that Siegel published in 1933.[5] The character was not successful. Tossing and turning in bed one night in 1934, he came upon the more familiar version of the character.[1][6] Siegel and Shuster then began a six-year quest to find a publisher. Titling it The Superman, Siegel and Shuster offered it to Consolidated Book Publishing, who had published a 48-page black-and-white comic book entitled Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48. Although the duo received an encouraging letter, Consolidated never again published comic books. Shuster took this to heart and burned all pages of the story, the cover surviving only because Siegel rescued it from the fire. Siegel and Shuster each compared this character to Slam Bradley, an adventurer the pair had created for Detective Comics #1 (May 1939).[7] In 1938, after that proposal had languished among others at More Fun Comics — published by National Allied Publications, the primary precursor of DC Comics — editor Vin Sullivan chose it as the cover feature for National's Action Comics #1 (June 1938). The following year, Siegel & Shuster initiated the syndicated Superman comic strip. Siegel also created the ghostly avenger The Spectre during this same period.

In 1946, Siegel and Shuster, nearing the end of their 10-year contract to produce Superman stories, sued National over rights to the characters. In 1947, the team had rejoined editor Sullivan, by now the founder and publisher of the comic-book company Magazine Enterprises; there they created the short-lived comical crime-fighter Funnyman. Siegel went on to become comics art director for publisher Ziff-Davis in the early 1950s, and later returned to DC to write uncredited Superman stories in 1959 under the control of Silver Age Superman editor Mort Weisinger. When he sued DC over the Superman rights again in 1967, his relationship with the hero he had co-created was again severed.

Siegel's later work would appear in Marvel Comics, where under the pseudonym "Joe Carter" he scripted the "Human Torch" feature in Strange Tales #112-113 (Sept.-Oct. 1963), introducing the teenaged Torch's high school girlfriend, Doris Evans; and, under his own name, a backup feature starring the X-Men member Angel, which ran in Marvel Tales and Ka-Zar.[8] Siegel wrote as well during this time for Archie Comics, where he created campy versions of existing superheroes in Archie's Mighty Comics line; Charlton Comics, where he created a few superheroes; and even England's Lion, where he scripted The Spider. In 1968, he worked for Western Publishing, for which he wrote (along with Carl Barks) stories in the Junior Woodchucks comic book. In 1970s, he worked for Mondadori Editore (at that time the Italian Disney comic book licensee) on its title Topolino, listed in the mastheads of the period as a scriptwriter ("soggettista e sceneggiatore").

In 1986, Siegel was invited by DC Comics' editor Julius Schwartz to write an "imaginary" final story for Superman, following Marv Wolfman's Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series and John Byrne's The Man of Steel miniseries, which reintroduced Superman. Siegel declined, and the story was instead given to writer Alan Moore, and published in September 1986 in two parts entitled "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" (the story was published in Superman #423 and Action Comics #583).

Siegel died in 1996. In 2005, he was posthumously awarded the Bill Finger Award For Excellence in Comic Book Writing. He was inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993.

Legal issues

Siegel & Shuster v. Time Warner

Siegel in 1975 launched a public-relations campaign to protest DC Comics' treatment of him and Shuster;[9] ultimately Warner Communications, DC's parent company, awarded Siegel and Shuster $20,000 a year[10] each for the rest of their lives and guaranteed that all comics, TV episodes (which would eventually include the popular Smallville show), films, and (later) video games starring Superman would be required to credit Superman was "created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster."

Siegel estate v. Time Warner

On April 16, 1999, Siegel's widow Joanne Siegel, and their daughter, Laura Siegel Larson, filed a copyright termination notice.[10] Warner Bros. contested this copyright termination, making the status of Siegel's share of the copyright the subject of a legal battle. Warner Bros. and the Siegels entered into discussions on how to resolve the issues raised by the termination notice, but these discussions were set aside by the Siegels and in October 2004 they filed suit alleging copyright infringement on the part of Warner Bros. Warner Bros. countersued, alleging, among other arguments, that the termination notice contains defects.[11][12] On the 26th March, 2008, Judge Stephen G. Larson of the Federal District Court for the Central District of California ruled that Siegel's estate was entitled to claim a share in the United States copyright.[13] The ruling does not affect the international rights which Time Warner holds in the character through its subsidiary DC Comics. Issues regarding the amount of monies owed Siegel's estate and whether the claim the estate has extends to derivative works such as movie versions will be settled at trial, although any compensation would only be owed from works published since 1999.[14] The case is currently scheduled to be heard in a Californian federal court in May, 2008.[15]

Superboy lawsuit

Superboy was the subject of a legal battle between Time Warner, the owner of DC Comics and the estate of Jerry Siegel. The Siegels argued that Jerry Siegel was an independent contractor at the time he proposed the original character, which DC declined at the time. After returning from World War II, Siegel found that DC had published a Superboy story which bore similarities to his proposal.[16]

On March 23, 2006, federal judge Ronald S. W. Lew issued a summary judgment ruling that the Siegel heirs had the right to revoke their copyright assignment to Superboy and had successfully reclaimed the rights as of November 17, 2004. Warner Bros. and DC Comics replied that they "respectfully disagree" with the ruling and will seek review. Warner Bros. and DC Comics filed a motion for reconsideration of Judge Lew's ruling in January 2007. On July 27, 2007, federal judge Larson (who had replaced Lew upon his taking "senior status") issued a ruling reversing Judge Lew's ruling that the Siegel heirs had reclaimed the rights to Superboy.[17]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Roger Stern. Superman: Sunday Classics: 1939 - 1943 DC Comics/Kitchen Sink Press, Inc./Sterling Publishing; 2006
  2. ^ a b Its BobRo the Answer Man (column): "Secret Identities," by Bob Rozakis, April 9, 2001
  3. ^ Last Son, a documentary film about the creation of Superman which shows Mitchell's death certificate (http://www.greendoorfilms.com/blog/)
  4. ^ Colton, David. "Superman's story: Did a fatal robbery forge the Man of Steel?," USA Today (Aug. 27, 2008). Accessed Feb. 17, 2009.
  5. ^ Daniels, Les (1998). Superman: The Complete History (1st ed.). Titan Books. ISBN 1-85286-988-7. 
  6. ^ Gross, John (December 15, 1987). "Books of the Times". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE3DC1F38F936A25751C1A961948260. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  7. ^ Daniels (1998), p. 17.
  8. ^ The Grand Comics Database: "Joe Carter - Writer" Search Results
  9. ^ Graham, Victoria. "Originators of Superman Destitute: Sold Rights in 1938 for $130," The State Journal (Lansing, Mich.), (November 25, 1975), p. D-3.
  10. ^ a b Dean, Michael (2004-10-14). "An Extraordinarily Marketable Man: The Ongoing Struggle for Ownership of Superman and Superboy". The Comics Journal (263): 13–17. http://www.tcj.com/263/n_marketable.html. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  11. ^ Vosper, Robert (February 2005). "The Woman Of Steel". Inside Counsel. http://web.archive.org/web/20070506063326/http://www.insidecounsel.com/issues/insidecounsel/15_159/profiles/191-1.html. Retrieved 2007-01-26. "DC isn't going to hand over its most valued asset without putting up one hell of a legal battle" 
  12. ^ Brady, Matt (March 3, 2005). "Inside The Siegel/DC Battle For Superman". Newsarama. http://classic.newsarama.com//DC/Superman/Intro.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-26. "While the complaint, response and counterclaim has been filed, no one even remotely expects a slam-dunk win for either side. Issues such as those named in the complaint will, if it goes to trial, possibly allow for an unprecedented referendum on issues of copyright."  Archived 13 Aug 2008.
  13. ^ "This Month in History," Smithsonian (June 2008).
  14. ^ Ciepley, Michael. "Ruling Gives Heirs a Share of Superman Copyright" The New York Times, March 29, 2008. Accessed on 2008-29-03. Archived on 2008-29-03.
  15. ^ Coyle, Marcia. "Pow! Zap! Comic Book Suits Abound," The National Law Journal, February 4, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-02-17. Archived on 2008-02-17.
  16. ^ McNary, Dave (5 April 2006). "Super snit in 'Smallville'. (Skein faces copyright infringement charges)". Daily Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117941008.html. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  17. ^ Trexfiles.com

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Jerome Siegel (17 October 1914 - 28 January 1996) American writer, and (with Canadian-American artist Joe Shuster) the co-creator of Superman; he is most commonly known as Jerry Siegel.

Sourced

  • The Reign of the Superman
    • Title of Siegel's first published story of a "Superman" — one who was villainous. He later realized a character with super-powers could make a great comic book hero. (1933)
  • Superman! Champion of the oppressed. The physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need.
  • In the January, 1933 issue of "SCIENCE FICTION" appeared a story I had written in 1932 entitled, "The Reign of the Superman." I used the pseudonym "Herbert S. Fine" which combined the name of a cousin of mine together with my mother's maiden name.
    After the publication of "Reign of the Superman", it occurred to me that a different version of Superman could be the basis of an extremely powerful and successful comic book. And so I originated, together with Joe Shuster, the comic book "THE SUPERMAN", back in 1933.

In the beginning (1983)

Essay online

  • As a science fiction fan, I have long been very familiar with the various themes in the field. The superman theme has been one of them ever since Samson and Hercules. I just sat down and wrote a story of that type — only in this first story, the Superman was a villain.
    A couple of months after I published this story, it occurred to me that a Superman as a hero rather than as a villain might make a great comic strip character in the vein of Tarzan, only more super and sensational than that great character. Joe and I drew it up as a comic book.
  • Clark Kent grew not only out of my private life, but also out of Joe Shuster's. As a high school student, I thought that someday I might become a reporter, and I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn't know I existed or didn't care I existed.
  • One night, when all the thoughts were coming to me, the concept came to me that Superman could have a dual identity, and that in one of his identities he could be meek and mild, as I was, and wear glasses, the way I do. The heroine, who I figured would be some kind of girl reporter, would think he was some kind of worm; yet she would be crazy about this Superman character who could do all sorts of fabulous things. In fact, she was real wild about him, and a big inside joke was that the fellow she was crazy about was also the fellow whom she loathed.
  • Initially, we were turned down by almost every comics publisher in the country.

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