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Shuster’s story is one of caution for artists in every line of work. It always hard for an artist to hold onto rights when they have to put food on table. I’ve been there and it’s not pleasant to give up rights or originals when you don’t want to but sometimes you have to. In Shuster’s case it’s extreme because of the popularity and the billions of dollars made off his creation. That being said the corporate entities that held the rights should have been a lot more generous than they were. The takeaway is we artists are in business and rights to content is the one chance to make some good money if the work is good and valued. So hang on to them if you can!
Shuster (July 10, 1914 – July 30, 1992) was a Canadian-American comic book artist. He was best known for co-creating the DC Comics character Superman, with writer Jerry Siegel, first published in Action Comics #1 (June 1938).
Shuster was involved in a number of legal battles concerning the ownership of the Superman character, eventually gaining recognition for his part in its creation. His comic book career after Superman was relatively unsuccessful, and by the mid-1970s Shuster had left the field completely due to partial blindness.
He and Siegel were inducted into both the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2005, the Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association instituted the Joe Shuster Awards, named to honor the Canada-born artist.
Shuster became famous as the co-creator of one of the most well-known and commercially successful fictional characters of the 20th century. National Allied Publications claimed copyright to his and Siegel’s work, and when the company refused to compensate them to the degree they believed appropriate, Siegel and Shuster, in 1946, near the end of their 10-year contract to produce Superman stories, sued National over rights to the characters. They ultimately accepted $94,000 to stop pursuing the claim for $94,000 after a court ruled that National had validly purchased the rights to Superman when it bought the first Superman story. But after this bitter legal wrangling, National cropped Shuster and Siegel’s byline. In 1947, the team rejoined editor Sullivan, by then the founder and publisher of the comic-book company Magazine Enterprises where they created the short-lived comical crime-fighter Funnyman. While Siegel continued to write comics for a variety of publishers, Shuster largely dropped out of sight.