Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Number 2229: That’s Amazing, Man!

Amazing-Man was really John Aman, but he didn’t hide his identity. He was raised in Tibet and given special training to become Amazing-Man...but so was his longtime adversary, a guy with the name The Great Question. I like that name. I don’t like The Great Question’s costume, which appears to be from the Ku Klux Klan katalog. Bill Everett, who later became one of the top comic artists, created Amazing-Man. And that was before he created the character he is best known for, the Sub-Mariner.

Unfortunately, this episode of Amazing-Man is not by Bill Everett. It is by another question, because Grand Comics Database has no idea who did the script or artwork for this story. It was from Centaur, which has the distinction of being the first of the comic book companies formed in the very early days of comic books to go out of business. For what it’s worth, I like the look of the monsters the Great Question sends to do his dirty work. They look like giant rodents with elephant trunks.

This monstrous business is from Stars and Stripes #2 (1941).


Daniel [] said...

“Suddenly, Aman halts,amazed!” There's a lot of amazement there, despite the indisputable point that those monsters were boring.

And, given their ability to bore, I don't know why they wouldn't bore their way out of the water a the climax. If they couldn't leap, still they could dug J-shaped tunnels.

Also, how did the Amazing Man make his peace with the police? Even if they believed his story, he did indeed kidnap the Chief, and then utterly failed to protect him!

I had been quite unaware that anyone but Everett had drawn the Amazing Man for Centaur. One of my thoughts is that, if Hardie, Gardner, and Kelly had this done without securing Everett's permission, then it should have been evident to all the artists and writers at Centaur (including Carl Burgos) that they would need to take steps ab initio to establish ownership of their future creations.

Pappy said...

Daniel, were many artists and writers thinking of establishing their claim to a character? I'd say some, but they would be few, because it was established in those days that the publisher owned all the rights. I believe any artist or writer who stressed a claim would probably be black-balled.

(I recognize that Siegel and Shuster lost Superman, but Bob Kane struck a deal to the rights for Batman, so go figure.)

Something I have wondered is whether the people in those early days who published the comics, and those who created them, thought the success of comic books a fad, and would have thought they would not last for any amount of time.

Joe Hinman said...

The monsters look like "Hephelumps" from Winnie the Pooh.

Daniel [] said...

Even to-day, those seeking to make their livings as artists or as writers and the public more generally don't understand the law concerning intellectual property, nor the various ethical and economic theories that underlie that law. (Spider Robinson's persistently lauded “Melancholy Elephants” is based upon a fundamental confusion; he ought to have known better.)

And, indeed, at least in the early golden age, most of the people involved seem to have assumed that the product would be very ephemeral, so that creators felt no incentive to fight for what seemed would be small sums of money.

In the case of an creator who attempted to claim ownership after having sold work to a publisher, I agree that black-balling would have followed. But a creator who first registered a copyright or trademark and then tried to sell license to the work would perhaps have faced a smaller market, but not black-balling. To the extent that publishers expect the market to evaporate, they might well have bought short-term rights for the very same sum as they would have otherwise paid for simple ownership. Consider how Busy Arnold used to destroy original art; he had no expectation of enduring value.

Burgos came to my mind because he seems to have been amongst those who, relatively early, sought to claim ownership of what he'd created.

Kane's arrangement with DC doesn't seem to me to have been much different from that of Seigel and Shuster; Kane was creditted as the creator of the Batman, but was not as the owner. Until Seigel and Shuster tried to establish themselves as the legal owners of the character of Superman, they received credit and payments above and beyond whatever they received for generating new work. DC felt needs both to incentivize future creation, and to punish those who demanded for a still larger rewards. I remember an interview, towards the end of Kane's life, in which his overly talkative wife embarassed him by essentially explaining that he was very careful not to rock the boat; he kept trying, obliquely, to get her to shut-up.