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Quote of the day | Grant Morrison on Siegel, Shuster and Superman

by  in Comic News Comment

[CBR:] From Siegel and Shuster through later chapters on Kirby or Jim Starlin, you cover a lot of the creative life of the people behind comics and how one informs the other, and you make some particular observations about Siegel and Shuster’s desires as artists as well as professionals. There’s so much chatter over the lawsuits over Superman and what not, but for you, did you feel like the characters transcend some of those debates on their own terms, or is that creative personality something that informs how our whole industry works even to today?

[Grant Morrison:] Well, to me it’s never been honestly what’s interesting about this stuff. I think the stories outlast all of those complications. You look at the people who created those characters, and they’re all dead. But the characters will still be around in 50 years probably – at least the best of them will. So I try not to concern myself with that. These are deals made in times before I was even born. I can say from experience that young creative people tend to sell rights to things because they want to get noticed. They want to sell their work and to be commercial. Then when they grow up and get a bit smarter, they suddenly realize it maybe wasn’t so good and that the adults have it real nice. [Laughs] But still, it’s kind of the world. I wouldn’t want to comment on that because it was something I wasn’t around for. I can’t tell why they decided to do what they did. Obviously Bob Kane came in at the same age and got a very different deal and profited hugely from Batman’s success. So who knows? They were boys of the same age, but maybe some of them were more keen to sell the rights than others. It all just takes a different business head.

All-Star Superman and Action Comics writer Grant Morrison takes a hands-off approach to the conflict over the rights to Superman between Warner Bros. and the heirs of the character’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, in conversation with CBR’s Kiel Phegley. Well, sorta hands-off: First he says he’d prefer not to comment because he wasn’t there, but then he points out that Bob Kane secured a much better deal for himself (though not for Bill Finger) at around the same time.

Interestingly, even as the costume changes and potential origin tweaks of the upcoming Superman reboot leave industry observers wondering if they’re a form of insurance should WB and DC lose the Siegel/Shuster legal battle, Morrison has repeatedly gone on record saying that his new Action Comics #1 is directly inspired by Siegel & Shuster’s original, from Superman’s more limited power set to his emergence as something of a street-level social crusader to the constant sense of forward motion the young writer and artist brought to the Man of Steel’s first adventure — an adventure Morrison close-reads to insightful effect in his new book Supergods. If Morrison could once again talk to Superman about himself, what might he say about all this?