Comic Book Legends Revealed #223
Welcome to the two-hundred and twenty-third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and twenty-two.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend last week’s Movie Legends Revealed to learn the answer to the question “Could Béla Lugosi speak English when he starred in Dracula?”
COMIC LEGEND: DC once sued a porn film for, among other things (including trademark infringement), the usage of flying sequences!
When you’re a major company and you get hit by a lawsuit over trademark, you revise your product.
But what do you do when you’re a small company making a pornographic film?
Well, that’s what the producers of 1977′s Super-Woman found out when DC Comics served them with a complaint over their porn film’s use of the character Super-Woman and the “S” on the chest of her costume.
The film starred Desiree Cousteau as Super-Woman, a super strong heroine who could also fly. Along with co-workers, reporters Lois and Clark, Cousteau investigated the evil deeds of Kreetia Borgia, played by Jessie St. James. Here’s Borgia…
In a move cleared designed to secure trademark protection, DC had a character named “Superwoman” show up a few times in the 1940s.
Here’s one such appearance, where Lois Lane dreams she’s Superwoman in Action Comics #60…
So DC registered for (and received) a trademark on the name “Superwoman” for usage in commerce.
In 1977, Superman: The Movie was soon to be released, and obviously Fantasy Films Productions knew this when they did their film.
So DC Comics sued them, and the courts agreed on pretty much all of the counts, except DC wanted them to remove all flying sequences, as that was going to be a big part of Superman: The Movie, and they felt that it was too similar to their Superman TV series. The court disagreed, but allowed all the other changes.
So the movie went from Super-Woman to Ms. Magnificent!
She does two things extremely well…one of them is flying!
However, this being a small production, do you know how they complied with the court order? They just went through the soundtrack and simply cut out any mention of the name “Super-Woman.” Characters aren’t dubbed in saying “Ms. Magnificent,” people are just silent when her name comes up!
And the “S” on her costume?
Someone just went by frame by frame and scratched out the logo on her costume, resulting in what looks like an almost intentional special effect!
Of course, it is clearly NOT intentional when you see the scratch accidentally go too far in a scene…
Oh, just because I figured you folks would be interested, Kreetia Borgia does, indeed, have a dildo made out of a green alien substance that is “Ms. Magnificent’s” weakness.
I just figured you should know that.
Let’s move on!
COMIC LEGEND: The term gerrymander comes from a political cartoon.
Really, when you look back at the life of Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814), it’s a shame that he is now known almost entirely for a negative aspect of his life, and not for all the impressive accomplishments he had.
I mean, the guy signed the Declaration of Independence, for crying out loud!
He was James Madison’s second Vice-President (fellow Declaration signer George Clinton was Madison’s first veep, before Clinton died in office). Gerry, too, died in office.
Gerry, though, is not remembered for these deeds, nor will he really be known for being the ninth Governor of Massachusetts, but for his support of the notion of redistricting for political gain.
Redistricting for political purposes is something that goes on today, where whichever party is in power tries to draw up the voting districts to help keep their party in power. So long as you aren’t doing it to negatively affect ethic or racial groups, it is allowed.
In any event, in 1812, then Governor Gerry decided to have Massachusetts redistricted so that the Federalists would get their own district, but the rest of the districts would fall to Gerry’s party, the Democratic-Republicans.
In the Boston Gazette, editorial cartoonist/painter Gilbert Stuart decided to compare Gerry’s plan to a salamander. However, Stuart’s editor, Benjamin Russel, suggested that he instead call it a “Gerry-Mander,” after Gerry (by the by, the term “Gerrymander” is pronounced “jerrymander,” but Gerry’s name was actually pronounced with a hard G, not a J).
The cartoon appeared in the March 26th, 1812 edition of the Boston Gazette…
And the rest is, as they say, history.
Now almost two hundred years later, that’s really Elbridge Gerry’s legacy, a sneaky political move (that he did not create, by the way – it was already being used decades earlier). That’s a bit of a shame, I think.
COMIC LEGEND: Warner Bros. bought DC Comics.
With the news this week about Walt Disney purchasing Marvel Comics, an interesting misconception was often repeated, and reader Paul Blanshard wrote in to suggest that I address said misconception, and I think he’s got a good point, so here goes.
It is often said that DC Comics was purchased by Warner Brothers. After all, DC is currently a subsidiary of Warner Communications, Inc. which is, itself, a subsidiary of Time Warner, Inc., a massive media conglomerate.
However, that’s not how it actually happened.
It really all began with, of all things, a funeral home.
In 1953, when he was 26 years old, Steve Ross married Carol Rosenthal, whose father, Edward Rosenthal, owned a funeral home. Ross went to work with Rosenthal, and soon the pair got involved in small business entrepreneurship.
In the late 50s, Ross took out a loan from the bank to start a rental car business, Abbey Rent a Car.
Ross eventually partnered with a garage Business called Kinney. The new company was called Kinney Parking Company.
During the 1960s, Kinney Parking Company merged with an office cleaning company owned by a relative of Ross’ father-in-law, the National Cleaning Company.
The new company was called Kinney National Company.
When it went public in the early 1960s, it was worth about $12 million.
In 1967, the company purchased National Periodical Publications (better known as DC Comics).
That same year, it bought Ashley-Famous, a talent agency.
So in 1967, DC was part of the Kinney National Company, not Warner Brothers.
And in fact, National was basically kept its own company, just part of the larger Kinney National Company (as seen on this indica…
Then, in 1969, Kinney purchased Warner Bros.-Seven Arts., which was extremely cash-poor at the time.
Still, though, the company was called Kinney National Company, not Warner.
Warner was just a “Kinney Leisure Service,” as seen in this movie poster from this period…
That changed in 1972.
A parking scandal (the parking industry has not always been the most honest of industries) forced Kinney to separate its other industries from its burgeoning entertainment empire, so it split off all of its non-entertainment businesses and and continued under a NEW name, Warner Communications, Inc.
And it was only THEN that DC Comic was officially part of Warner (and even then, it took DC a long time before acknowledging Warner Communications, Inc. in the indicas).
So, this is basically a long way of saying that no, DC Comics was not purchased by Warner Brothers.
Still, it’s fun to know the history, right?
Thanks to Paul for the suggestion!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com.
As you likely know by now, at the end of April, my book finally came out!
Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…
If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…
See you next week!