Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Here are a couple of articles about the forthcoming Superman themed license plate in Ohio. I'm linking to these in part because of what's not being said in them.
First, here's what is being said. Ohio wanted to create a plate that read "Birthplace of Superman." But Warner and DC comics said they shouldn't. Or asked them not to. The relevant phrases quoted in the article are "does not want to offend" and "there was some discomfort over saying 'birthplace'". Neither of these statements come from DC or Warner. They come from Ohio people who are accommodating the company who owns Superman. So they're changing the plate so it will read something else; they have not decided on the exact wording.
Here's what's not being said, at least as far as I can tell: This is absurd. This is worthy of ridicule. We call something a birthplace because that's where it started. Siegel and Shuster lived in Ohio when they made up Superman. Therefore, by any definition it is Superman's birthplace.
So Warner doesn't want to acknowledge that. I'm reminded of the final page of All-Star Superman #10, which features Frank Quitely's rendition of one of Shuster's earliest drawings of Superman. The dialogue reads "This is going to change everything." In Morrison's original script, it read, "We're going to make a million dollars." I'm paraphrasing there, because he said it in one of the thousand interviews I watched about All-Star. It changed for the final version, he said, because Superman didn't make its creators millionaires; instead it made lots of money for people who publish Superman. Problems ensued, into which I will not go here.
Anyway, I've largely avoided writing about creators' rights here, but I think I'll do so at length in the near future. This isn't a creators' rights concern; it's something else entirely. It has to do with rewriting history. It could be the beginning of something entirely dishonest. I understand the motives of people in Ohio, not wanting to force Warner to say "No More Superman for you", but I still wish somebody with influence would stand up and stop this sort of thing.