Comic Book Comics Does Copyright

I'm a big fan of Comic Book Comics.  In between doing all those fancy books for Marvel, Fred Van Lente collaborates with his longtime partner, Ryan Dunlavey to produce Comic Book Comics, which look at the vast and fascinating history of the comic book industry, with depth and humor.  It's really like nothing else out there.

Today, they posted a preview of Comic Book Comics #5 "The Grabbers", dealing with copyright in comics, and the story of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman.  In just the few posted pages, you'll see the history of work-for-hire comics, and just what happened with the ownership of Superman, among other things.  It's great stuff, done very well.

Here are the first 2 pages.  Make sure to go read the rest.  It's important.


  1. Everyone comic fan should read Comic Book Comics, it’s a great and entertaining look back at the history of the medium we love.

  2. Fascinating.  Can’t wait for part two.

    Copyrights are both a massive mess and a necessity.  You must protect the creator while providing a means of publication and promotion.  The digital age COULD improve the situation, but may well make it worse due to the (as alluded to in the comic) ease of piracy.

  3. Comic Book Comics is going to be an important series when it’s finished. It’s one of the best documentary style comics ever made, and presents the subject matter in a clear informative and entertaining way.

    FVL & RD should win eisners for their efforts when it’s all finished. 

  4. Oh, and speaking of FVL/RD, definitely check out their Action Philosophers.  Much like CBC they take Philosophy and make it (more) interesting and entertaining.

  5. Is only Part 1 of 2 available?  I read up to the panel about Siegel and Shuster attending the “Superman: The Movie” premiere (and getting their $20,000 stipend for life, co-creator credit).

  6. @srh1son  Part 2 will be in Comic Book Comics #5

  7. @srh1son  As Josh said in the article, it’s a preview from COMIC BOOK COMICS #5.

  8. Wow! this looks super cool. Will check this out further. 

    What they are talking about is referred to in most creative professions legally as “work for hire”. That is basically written into my contract at the design firm i work at. 

    Some companies are pretty ruthless with it and maintain every idea you have when you are in their employ, even if its in your own house belongs to them….this is especially in the Toy and Industrial Design Industries. The guy who created BRATZ dolls comes to mind. 

    @stuclach  –i like how you argue for and against it simultaneously. If anything you’re illustrating its complexity! ha

  9. Okay, I see you purchase the issue from their site.  I would like to read the previous issues, though one is already sold out.  Hopefully they do a collected edition?

  10. @srh1son  Comic Book Comics 1-4 are on Comixology, you can read them at or in the app. They’re $0.99 a pop. They’ll definitely put out a collected edition once the series wraps up (if I remember right, with #6)

  11. @wallythegreenmonster  Exactly!

  12. @gobo  Thanks for the heads up.