DC Kills Superman (Again)

By: WebProNews Staff - May 16, 2008

Some in Metropolis will use eBay for evil—like selling one’s wife*—but in the heart of the heart of the city, a charitable and well-intentioned soul battles two great forces at once: cancer and DC Comics.

Superman's not allowed to help

Superman fanboy Thomas Denton, blogger and charitable eBayer, was so grateful for the help his family received from Candlelighters during his young nephew’s bout with cancer, he enlisted a team of comic artists willing to donate their artwork, some of which featured depictions of Superman. We’ll call them Superfriends, just to be snide toward Warner Brothers, DC’s parent company.

Denton set up auctions via eBay’s charitable auction channel to sell the Superfriends’ artwork, all proceeds, minus eBay’s fees**, to be forwarded to Candlelighters. But all was not well. A team of WB lawyers crashed through the skylight and forced eBay to pull the auctions, citing copyright and trademark violations.

DC owns Superman, they said, and Superman’s not allowed to help unapproved cancer patients, not even kids. (Cue dramatic villain music, and raucous, menacing laughter.)

Denton acknowledged his mistake despite being "heartbroken," and refused to play the victim. He asked that concerned Metropolis citizens still donate to Candlelighters. DC wasn’t completely devoid of sympathy and "made a exemption" [sic] for one of the listed items—you know, just to show they’re not complete ungrammatical jerks. Denton will still have to foot the fees for the auctions not reinstated.

This story has an even sadder end than that. Denton blogs he will be shutting down his Superman fan site. "I’ve sort of lost my enthusiasm for promoting WB’s products," he said. All because WB (and other corporations these days) can’t keep its lawyers on a tighter leash. 

Can anything save Thomas’s love of Superman? Is it too late for the Candlelighters? Will Metropolis ever be out of the iron grip of the overly litigious?

Citizens of Metropolis, without Superman it’s up to you, and Denton has nine other auctions running at eBay, with a day left to bid.

*If in fact she is, as her jilted hubby claims, a "cheating, lying, adulterous slag of a wife," selling a person is pretty much illegal (and wrong) everywhere, especially on eBay, million dollar bids aside.   

**No good deed goes unpunished, eh?

WebProNews Staff

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  • http://www.positivewriting.com Warren

    A great article on Superman.

  • Guest

    It appears that all of the auctions have been removed.  I just looked.  I can’t believe the lawyers at WB would be so crass.  But that is big business for you.. Only thinking of themselves.

  • http://www.thakim.com/index.html Tom Hakim

    In a world that cherishes a legend, and a legend that cherishes the world, DC Comics has created and hosted this legend that billions of people around the world beleive in for over 5 decades. The belief may not be completely material in essence, but morally and ethically true and substantial. With the type of ethics and values that Superman carries in his comics, movies, cartoons, etc., DC Comics should be helping people in many ways to carry on the portrayal of Superman. Now I know that DC Comics cannot help everyone, but exceptions need to be made, even if it is a "once in a while" condition of circumstance. DC Comics would not be at the top of the list now-a-days if it weren’t for the heart and soul that Superman instills into the people who believe in him. Such events as what Thomas Denton is doing for his nephew may not be legally correct, but I think that there is more at stake here than legalities, it is the morality and ethics that Superman as a legend and hero had allowed people to understand continue what is right and just. People that purchased from Thomas’s auctions purchased because they believe that Superman, even though he is not a real person, love the hero and more importantly believe that Superman has a soul through those who really and truly believe.

    Once question that has possibly been failed to ask is:

    If Superman was a real person, would he allow for his memorabilia to be sold to help one child or million?

    Myself, for someone who believes and honors and cherishes Superman…….I don’t even think he would think twice about it! 

  • http://whiteeagleaerie.com/ Nathan Pinno

    If someone wants to help people out, the person should be praised, not punished! DC Comics ought to be ashamed of themselves, and find a way to help out (maybe authorizing the guy to sell Superman images?). This is just MHO.

  • http://www.logodesignnext.com/ logo designer

    Superman has lost finally his humanity. Something which many villains tried and failed has now been accomplished by the ordinary lawyer.  Move over Anti-monitor, move over Doomsday, ‘The suit’ is the king of the hill.

  • Guest Ralph Sabean

    I think the smallville show is pretty good but is a bit too soap-operie so that its a given for to be good shows they need only be stories in his life that promote him not any more of the Crappy Lana lang stuff. She’s a good actress she just has no one to give her a good part in the show along with Jimmy olsen.

    Cloey does her part well and lex although he gets put a little too high up like he has more power than the president and tells him what to do. He should be operating in a hidden underground fortress that even superman can’t break into leaving him always ways to try to defeat Superman and vice versa. I’m pretty sure the ratings and public opinion will steer the Writers in a way to keep the show on the air if ratings are high enough.

    Why hasn’t he even flown yet and he’s supposed to die but the way they have it here the both He and Lex  would certainly die if the fortress crashed up like it showed. One option would be to allow his cousin to save the day by escaping the fantom Zone or whatever it was supposed to be that was imprisoning her. The Robot did say If he were killed all the evil he committed would be undone.  

    I’ve always liked the show but it seems to lack the imagination of the comic strips and it should surpass them a hundred times. They should always have the chance to fight a villian in each episode to keep up  the ratings. I’m not sure about how to get good ratings but couldn’t the writers use at least some of the comic strip stories to make the shows more realistic to the  audience and not in sequence but let the audience try guessing which comic story number it is. Once it was established by using at least some stories maybe at different intervals through out the year  you could have Contests to guess the number or a character in the story for a prize.

    Thats the way I see it any how.


  • http://www.willyums.com/sketchbook/ Garrett Williams

    I agree that he should have gone through the proper steps. It should be obvious that selling artwork of somebody else’s intellectual property requires permission from the property owner, even if you don’t get any of that money. Fan art is usually okay, but bringing money in brings in more… considerations.

    I’m on DC’s side. If I had a popular comic and somebody sold their own drawings of my characters, even in his situation, I’d be cautious about if this person really was giving it to a charity. His rating is a glaring red light. I’d want to protect my fans from possible scams, plus I’d like to keep control of my character. If a person asks me for permission to sell THEIR artwork of MY character for a charity, I would be willing to allow it… after making absolutely sure it was safe for my fans and worthy of my trademark.

    For anybody who doesn’t understand how important trademarks are, just think about if somebody drew pictures of YOU without your permission. When you look at a cartoon character, you are looking at a part of the cartoonist. As a cartoonist, I know how personal one’s cartoon character is, and would feel helpless if my character was out doing things I didn’t approve first.

  • Rob Dunn

    Russ brings up Great points! (Reverent Kudos!)

    But wouldn’t Superman himself try to be fair about all this?

    Superman (and DC) doesn’t need lawyers here – he/they need a better PR agent! Someone who can check (like Russ did) on the ‘nitty-gritty’ of the instance and provide some HELPFUL advice to Mr. Denton on what to do and how to make his admirable efforts produce the desired results while staying within the practical and legal framework that we must all live with.

    Trademarks are important. Protecting them is important. Negotiating the use of them, however, is an art that neither side here seems to have attempted.

    DC could be a hero here if they just let themselves! (Any DC staff reading this?)

  • Markus

    Actually, I feel kinda sorry for Mr. Denton.  He started out with good intentions, but because he didn’t follow some kind of "procedure" to do it "perfect", his good intentions are being trampled by the quagmyre that is our American legal system.  It’s a shame.

    I guess it’s up to The People to step in (remember how our country’s system of government is "Of, By, and For The People"?)  Mr. Denton and others who support him need to go public with what’s going on – not just on the Internet, but on television and radio.  I’ll bet you that WB’s or DC’s public relations team will spring into action in support of Denton’s efforts faster than a speeding bullet!

    On a side note, people are getting on Denton’s case because he’s an "eBay Newbie" and has no rating so therefore eBay shoppers will be leary about spending money with him.  My point is, how do you GET the seller ratings if nobody BUYS from you?  Or is this whole seller points system a way of making eBay an "elitist, members-only club" so that new blood can’t be infused into the system?  That to me seems like a recipe for failure – as in eBay will be doomed to failure in the future.

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