Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jack Kirby's Dreamland Starring Astro Boy

Heirs to comic book royalty Jack Kirby have sent 45 notices of copyright termination to Marvel, Disney, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Universal, and other studios who hold media-licensing rights to Marvel characters. The notices expressed intent to regain the copyrights of certain characters as early as 2014. Representing the heirs are Toberoff & Associates, the firm that helped Jerry Siegel's heirs reclaim a share of Superman's copyright from DC last year.

What characters are mentioned in the notices have not been disclosed. Kirby is credited with co-creating such Marvel staples as The Fantastic Four, Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, and Captain America. The termination notices could allow for Kirby's heirs to a) reap in a share of the profits from the films featuring said characters, and/or b) shop the characters to other studios.

While it's too early to speculate what could come of all this, I'm a blogger, and giving my unwarranted opinions on topics I'm not entirely read up on is sort of my thing. The hopeful fangirl in me, that is, the one who sat through two Fantastic Four movies, likes to think that if the heirs win their claims, they'll sell the characters to studios that will better serve Kirby's vision, or that competing franchises will give audiences the ability to choose what movie/cartoon/comic we enjoy rather than simply footing the bill for something we all hate because it's the only opportunity we'll get to enjoy our heroes. Comic book media doesn't have to suck.

On the other hand, the jaded realist in me, the one who argued against seeing those same Fantastic Four movies but went anyway because she got outvoted, is pretty sure that the world doesn't work that way, and the heirs will just use this as an opportunity to up their share of the profits. That's what drives the comic book industry. Money. It's why heroes never stay dead when you kill them.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: I fucking hated Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Still, in either case, this will be a landmark victory for creator's rights, and may shine the law-suit signal to the sky, encouraging more families of deceased comic creators to come forth to take copyright law in their own hands.

A more journalistic post about this story can be found here.

While I've got your attention, why don't you take a look at this extended clip from the upcoming Astro Boy film set to open on October 23. While it might appear that I don't care for most things, I lurve me some Astro Boy. It was the first manga I ever got into, and I owe many a half-assed term paper to reruns on Adult Swim. Frankly, I'm kind of pirate and zombie'd out. I'm ready for a resurgence in robot movies.

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