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How Being Sued for Copying Batman Got an Artist Hired to Draw Batman!

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and forty-first installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

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COMIC LEGEND:

Jim Mooney got a gig drawing Batman based on a comic book he drew ripping off Batman.

STATUS:

True

In the first legend for this week's worth of Comic Book Legends Revealed, I wrote about how Fox Comics was sued by DC over the Moth.

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I'll rehash a bit of that article now...

Jim Mooney created the superhero The Moth for 1940's Mystery Men Comics #9...

While it seems hard to believe, DC (then National Comics) believed it to be a ripoff of Batman!

Fox eventually told the young, not even 21-year-old, Mooney to just OUTRIGHT rip off Batman and so Mooney did so in Mystery Men Comics #13, although amusingly, they changed the name of the Moth to the Lynx (you can tell that the original name of the character was much longer than Lynx, so I suspect that he was going to be called something like Mothman, so really twist the knife)...

See how closely Mooney followed Bob Kane's art style of the era (and, of course, the whole "Robin ripoff" part, too)...

National then sued Fox and won a $2,000 judgement. The judge hilariously was incredulous that Fox was back in front of the court again on the same issue.

Mooney then left Fox and began to work for Will Eisner and Jerry Iger and soon, Mooney bounced around the comic book world, including a stint at Timely Comics (the second legend this week was about the origin of Timely Comics' name) where Mooney became close friends with Timely's young Editor-in-Chief, Stan Lee (they would remain good friends for the rest of Mooney's life).

Anyhow, after World War II, comic sales went down and Mooney lost his Timely Comics gig. He then came up with an inventive way to get a job drawing Batman. He explained it to my pal, Daniel Best, for Best's great book about Mooney, Gentlemen Jim Mooney:

"I heard on the grapevine that [DC Comics] were looking for an artist to do Batman. So I buzzed up there to DC, went in and talked to Whitney Ellsworth, who was the editor. Now, this was DC Comics, of course, the biggest outfit in the business. They didn't hand out art assignments on one of their most successful characters to just anybody who walked in off of the streets. When I expressed interest in the opening, Whit said, 'What makes YOU think you can draw The Batman?' Well, I pulled out the stuff I had done on The Moth over at Fox, and I said, 'Well, you thought my work looked enough like Batman on this stuff to sue Fox...What do YOU think?'"

Ellsworth soon gave him an assignment and Mooney worked for DC for almost thirty years.

Thanks to Daniel Best and the late, great Jim Mooney, for the information!

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