DC Comics did not create Superman; rather, he was independently created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who sold the character to Detective Comics, Inc. the precursor to DC Comics in 1938. Years later, when Superman’s popularity boomed, the duo attempted to recover the character’s rights, starting years of legal battles and copyright disputes.
According to Joe Sergi’s The Law for Comic Book Creators, a few years after Superman’s debut in Action Comics, Siegel proposed the idea of having a comic series based on Superman’s early days, a proposition the publisher initially rejected.
Then, years later, when Siegel was serving in the Army during WWII, DC published its first Superboy story focusing on a young Superman. Siegel and Shuster sued DC in 1948, and the publisher later settled out-of-court with the duo for $94,000 to own both Superman and Superboy.
In line with the Copyright Act of 1909, Siegel and Shuster applied to have their rights to Superman reverted in the mid-’60s, after 28 years. Unfortunately, their agreement with DC in 1948 nullified any attempt to regain Superman’s rights.
Then in 1975, ahead of the release of Richard Donner’s Superman, Warner Bros. agreed to pay Siegel and Shuster a yearly stipend if they settled to never contest Superman’s ownership rights in the future—and they agreed.
Their heirs, however, didn’t. Warner Bros. agreed, again, in 1992 to pay Shuster’s heirs a yearly stipend if they never contested Superman’s rights. Later, in October 2001, the studio made a similar arrangement with Siegel’s heirs. As part of that deal, all Superman stories (including movies) will feature the credit: “By Special Arrangement with the Jerry Siegel Family.”
10 Facts About DC Comics
1. Batman villain The Penguin was inspired by the advertising mascot for Kool Cigarettes, a penguin with a top hat and a cane.
2. Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston also invented an early version of the lie detector, a possible inspiration for the lasso of truth.
3. In an attempt to make DC comic book heroes more diverse, the son of Green Arrow, Connor Hawke, a bi-curious golden haired blackasian was born.
4. Andy Warhol made the first ever Batman movie, Batman Dracula. It was unofficial and never released.
5. Man of Steel star Henry Cavill was originally going to play Superman back in 2004, but after a change in director, the role went to Brandon Routh.
6. Batman once fought a villain made of marijuana, the floronic man.
7. Green Arrow bankrolled the original Justice League of America, but was not a member.
8. Wonder Woman’s bullet deflecting bracelets are made of Amazonium.
9. The Daily Bugle, Kryptonite, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White were created for the 1940s Adventure of Superman radio show. It was also the first place superman ever met Batman.
10. The DC Universe contains a patchwork of characters acquired from various publishers, including Wonder Woman (All-American), Shazam (Fawcett), The Question (Charlton), Plastic Man (Quality), Midnighter (Wildstorm ) and Static (Milestone).
DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Bros.