REVIEWS

Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics

Young Romance is an archival book of material from 60-50 years ago. In this kind of book we would expect to find two kinds of stories.

The first one is: Boy meets girl, what stands in the way of their progress, how it ends in tears and whether they are tears of joy or sadness. The second is: How these artists sold their idea, how they ran things, and whether they came out of it with their shirts. Nowadays we should expect the second story to attract as much interest as the first.

As to the first, these comics are among the best in their genre without a doubt. They have been selected for the variety of their conclusions; we’re six stories into the collection before we get one that ends with the lovers in the classic romantic clinch. The short story was the staple of comics back then, but there are three in this collection that stretch to 14 pages, with weighty enough material to justify the extra length, such as “The Town and Toni Benson”, the extended story in Young Romance #11 of a young married couple who first met in Young Romance #1 (which is not included in this collection). Such attempts at continuity in romance comics were not just rare, as this may have been the only one. The couple is making a serious go of it, but the small town won’t let them forget his past as a gambler. It’s a well constructed and moving story in which the solution to the crisis arises naturally out of the facts as presented. That big serious type of narrative is balanced against several more flippant short pieces such as “Norma, Queen of the Hot-Dogs”: “Norma didn’t want much out of life- just everything that a big bank roll could buy. So she got an idea– a ridiculous idea for a classy gal like Norma. It smelled of sauerkraut and mustard and lots of money! But what has this to do with love, you say?…”

The book covers 12 years 1947 to 1959. By ’55 we’re past the introduction of the comics code and things have become more constricted. Stories are now always seven pages or less. There a lot of parents railing against teen-agers: “You make noises like a man… But you’re only a kid… A young KID! I know you better than that girl or anybody else. I’m your father… And I’ll tell you when you’re … OLD ENOUGH TO MARRY!” Also, people hanging out around the pool, as in “Resort Romeo”. At the same time, Kirby’s art is beginning to look the way it will look in the Marvel Age, more streamlined and blocky, the way we remember it from his early collaborations with Stan Lee. Gone are all the raggedy ink-lines of the early issues that we are presumably to associate with Joe Simon, but more on this below. You may resist the obvious ploys attempting to play upon your emotions, including, in separate stories, a blind guy and a gal in a wheelchair. The book ends on a note of emotional absurdity, so high-pitched as to be comical, and not untypical of the post-code romances. Across the whole comic book field there’s a clear division between pre- and post- code, and it’s a mistake to view it it all as continuous. If you are to make a statement about romance comics, be clear about which side of the line you’re addressing.

As to the second kind of story, young Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, famous as the creators of Captain America, were back at work after WWII and on the lookout for something that hadn’t been tried before. They fastened on the idea of a comic book version of the kinds of stories that had flourished in the romance pulp magazines, stories that dealt with the more adult themes that could appeal to young people of the time. The comic book had grown up in other words (under the title banner of the first three issues of Young Romance was the slogan “Designed for the more ADULT readers of COMICS”). The thing that has recently attracted me to the subject of romance comics is the late discovery that it is possible to find material of a high quality in the genre. My particular interest is comics about ordinary life, and falling in love is the experience of ordinary people everywhere.

The pair put a first issue package of Young Romance together and sold the idea to Prize comics, an imprint of magazine publisher Crestwood for whom the they were already packaging two crime comics, titled Headline and Justice Traps the Guilty. For comics, Prize was a small operation, and Simon and Kirby negotiated half-ownership of the new title. This was to prove very lucrative when Young Romance took off immediately and the print-run rose to over a million. A second romance title, Young Love, was added a year and a half later so that they were now packaging four bi-monthly titles. Then another two titles were added, Western Love and Real West Romances. There was a big rush on the western-romance hybrid in 1949, though it was short-lived.

That makes six titles that Simon and Kirby were packaging for a period, or three whole comics per month. To keep this up they had a studio, with an in-house staff consisting of at least Simon and Kirby themselves, a letterer (Ben Oda) a colorist, probably two other artists, of whom, for a time at least, one may have been Mort Meskin. But knowledge of this is sketchy because nobody was interested enough in romance comics to get it all down while the principals were alive. A great deal of the material was also out-sourced to freelance writers and artists including Leonard Starr, John Prentice, Ann Brewster, Jerry Robinson, and many other known names as well as many recognizable styles with no attachable names.

There would have been a great deal of business paperwork and editorial work, overseeing, reading and changing bought scripts etc. and it’s never been quite clear exactly what Joe Simon’s end of the work would have consisted of during this period. Late in the process of putting the book together editor Michel Gagné revealed his table of contents online. At that stage he had credits in place showing Kirby as penciller on all the stories and Simon as inker on all but a couple of late ones in which a more austere style becomes noticeable, as observed above. Several knowledgeable commenters indicated some problems with the credit assumptions which resulted in Gagné removing the whole lot. The reader is left to his own conclusions, and if he/she is coming to the material fresh as a daisy, I’m not sure what those conclusions might be. The book sure could have used some elucidation about the running of the studio that produced all the material of which these 200 pages are only a small fraction (Young Romance itself, leaving out the other titles for a minute, ran to 124 issues before DC bought the title and inventory in 1963).

Here’s an example of the kind of problem I’m talking about in the above paragraph. I noticed in my first flip through the book that there are two stories that Kirby didn’t draw. Scholars of old comics tend to give Kirby the layouts for both stories, but I don’t even see that. My guess is that Kirby has gone over the finished art on them, tidying up editorially here and there and fixing one or two details. The female face in the last panel of page 2 of “Kathy and the Merchant of Sunset Canyon” (originally in Western Love #2 1949) looks like a Kirby face. In “The Perfect Cowboy” (originally in Real West Romances #4 1949) there’s an artist who looks like he might have been studying Meskin on DC’s Vigilante. The two figures in the splash panel are as nice a couple of evening strollers as I’ve seen in a comic. They appear to be drawn by a different hand at the top of the second page but there’s a sophisticated manipulation of pictorial space in the very small panels at the bottom that shows a great deal of skill of a sort that I once discussed in reference to a Jerry Robinson comic. The girl at the top of page 3 has a different facial construction from her close up at the bottom of page 4. Kirby Scholar Harry Mendryk, who covered these romance comics in a long series of blog posts, says the inking is too fine to be Simon’s. So we have: a pseudo-Robinson, a brief look-in from Kirby, a tidier inker than Simon, at least one other somebody else and I’m sure as blazes I see some Simon retouching on one of the pages. No wonder Gagné chose to delete all the credits. However, it’s odd that a story on which a bunch of people worked against a deadline crunch makes it into a “best of” collection. Its value from my own standpoint is that it gives us a glimpse into the workings of a very busy studio, since we’re not treated to such a thing in the book’s brief commentaries.

One writer’s credit oddly did make it onto one of the original printed pages. “Fraulein Sweetheart” (originally in Young Romance #4, May 1949) presents itself as the first person narrative (Romance comics are conventionally written in the first person) of a woman in post-war American-occupied Germany who falls in love with an American soldier. It’s a story that has been cited as an excellent example of the genre (Nolan, Love on the Racks). There’s a small plaque near the title that reads “translated by Sgt. J. Oleck”. I knew Oleck’s work from the 1970s when he would pop up at DC doing mystery and war stories, but I knew nothing else about him. I find this reference to him from a Joe Simon interview quoted by scholar Harry Mendryk: “Jack Oleck, my brother-in-law, who had been the number one scriptwriter for Simon and Kirby since the early days of Young Romance…” Perhaps they gave him a credit on his first story as a way of welcoming him. Otherwise, it’s nigh impossible to posthumously credit stories to writers in this era of comics history.

Simon and Kirby tried their hand at actual self-publishing as Mainline comics in 1954/55, but the timing was all wrong. Their partnership did not survive long past the arrival of the Comics Code. Still, they did well out of it all and the Prize period was certainly the period of Jack Kirby’s greatest commercial success, and also the period of work which posterity has most neglected. For that this book is to be cheered, though there is much else to be happy about in it.  There is the excellence of Gagné’s restoration work. It’s of a kind of cleanness which in the past, in archival projects by others, has often resulted in garishness. This is countered here by the paper used throughout the book, which is a of a very off-white creamy complexion, immediately noticeable by contrast with the ivory white endpapers. Thus the muted effects of the newsprint are preserved. There are a number of archival projects that could have benefited from that approach, including the recent Toth book, Setting the Standard, also published by Fantagraphics (2011). If we add to that John Benson’s Romance Without Tears (2003), and Confessions, Romances, Secrets and Temptations (2007), it appears that Fantagraphics, perhaps by accident more than planning, is the only publisher to give us any coverage of the long neglected and just about forgotten 1950s genre of romance comics. Somebody else needs to step up!

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18 Responses to Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics

  1. Patrick Watson says:

    Are the Simon or Kirby families receiving any royalties from this publication?

  2. Alek Trencz says:

    Jack Oleck also wrote some crime and sci-fi for EC comics.

  3. patrick ford says:

    Eddie, I don’t think there is much dispute about who did the inking on most of the stories in the book. The first research was done back in the ’80s by Greg Theakston, and Jim Amash. In the early ’50s Kirby was busy as art director, and story man for the S&K studio. The number of pages fully penciled by Kirby in the early ’50s was often around 25-35 pages a month, low by his standards, but the upside is he often inked the stories he fully penciled. Most of the stories in the book are inked by Kirby. The notable exceptions are the post code material. Only one of those (THE LOVE I LOST) is inked by Kirby. On the whole the ’50s are a fantastic era for people interested in seeing Kirby ink his own work. With the exception of the Challengers most of what he did for DC in the late ’50s he inked.
    The two stories you mention are of course not by Kirby, aside from a few touches. In addition to the examples you mention in “Kathy and the Merchant of Sunset Canyon” there are Kirby inks on page 9 panels 1-3.
    The “Oleck story” was almost certainly rewritten by Kirby. It’s penciled and inked by Kirby and the language is peppered with Kirby style metaphor and simile.

    “The past grimly waited for me at home.”
    “Love does not choose between uniforms.”
    “Your world is bright with promise. Mine still smolders from dark hatreds.”

    One thing KIrby almost never does in his writing (and there is a single example in the Oleck story) is use vertical captions adjacent to panels. Kirby’s captions are almost always at the top of panels. When there are exceptions “Everybody Want’s My Girl” it may be a story where Kirby is working from a script.
    Joe Simon made frequent use of vertical captions in stories he wrote. penciled and inked, like the Vagabond Prince, or Duke of Broadway stories. Other S&K studio writers also frequently employed vertical captions (see the Eclipse book REAL LOVE and check “Merciless” or “Baby Doll.”

    Here is some information about Kirby’s role at the S&K studio.

    Jim Amash interviewed Jack Katz (Alter-Ego #92).

    Katz on Kirby and Simon at Timely:
    “Jack would work at his own desk there and Joe would come in during the morning and subtly stare at us. Jack would go for lunch, and when he came back Joe would leave for the day.”

    Katz on Kirby at Timely:
    You know how I learned to ink? Jack sat me down one day, He said, “This is what you do.” He took one of my drawings, and he inked it with a brush. I’d never seen inking that good in my life. I said, “Jack if you could ink so good, why do you let—?” He said, “I don’t have the time.”
    He said, “This is what I want you to do. You apply the blacks like this. This is this is what you do with your camera angle to make the background stand out. Jack would fill in all kinds of black areas in the background. As an inker, I don’t think there could have been anybody better if he had done his own stuff himself.

    Katz on Kirby as S&K art director in the late ’40s early ’50s:
    Jack would get in early, he was always there before I came in. He left late. Jack wrote as he drew, he also worked from scripts, but he would use them as a template.

    Katz on Kirby and Meskin:
    “Jack represented a boss who was handling a very unusual art form. He was very much in command. The only one who could say stupid things to him was Mort Meskin. Mort had a window seat. He’d say, “Get up!, Get up!” and a girl would be walking around in a bathing suit. And Jack would say, “Would you sit the Fuck down.” This happened almost every day.
    One day Mort brought in some pornographic toys, Queen-sized fake breasts. He shows them to Kirby. Jack says, “What are you doing?” Mort puts the breasts on the floor and starts jumping up and down on them. Jack told him to stop, and get back to work. ”

    Amash also interviewed S&K studio writers Walter Geier and Kim Aamodt.

    Kim Aamodt: I really sweated out plots, unlike Jack Kirby. Jack just ignited and came out with ideas, and Joe’d just kind of nod his head in agreement. Jack’s face looked so energized when he was plotting that it seemed as if sparks were flying off him.Joe was on the ground, and Jack was on cloud nine. Jack was more of the artist type; he had great instincts.

    Walter Geier: Jack Kirby was great about that; he always came up with the plots. Jack had a fertile mind. Joe used to sit there when the writers came in for conferences. They sat there and made up the plots for the writers. Jack did most of that. Joe would say something once in a while, but Jack was the idea man. Joe didn’t talk much. He could come up with decent plots, but it was usually very sketchy stuff. A lot of times Joe would say, ” Awww…you figure out the ending.” Jack would give me the ending, because he was good at figuring out stories. It was not hard to work with Jack. They were Jack’s plots. I just supplied the dialogue.

  4. James says:

    Well, there you have it. Kirby always wrote and not just in visual terms. Not only that, but he is one of the few cartoonists who didn’t draw women from a template, his drawings reflect his observation of the variation of form seen in reality. I saw this book in the shops, it looks terrific.

  5. DiamondDulius says:

    @ Patrick Watson: No, they are not. The material is in public domain, so Fantagraphics doesn’t feel the need to pay the artists’ heirs. I questioned Kim Thompson about this and his answer is here: http://www.tcj.com/joseph-henry-simon-october-11-1913—-december-14-2011/

  6. Mxyzptlk says:

    From what I understand, the Simon and Kirby estates are not pleased about this publication. It threatens the publication of a planned romance volume from Titan from which they would have received some payment (whether you choose to call it royalties or not), while from this one they will not receive anything. While Fantagraphics is not legally responsible to pay the Kirby and Simon estates, their undertaking is ethically questionable, not to mention puzzling given their stated commitment to, and continued advocacy in the pages of the Comics Journal for, artists’ rights.

  7. Kim Thompson says:

    If you can find any evidence of the JOURNAL’s advocacy of creator’s rights to include arguments that heirs must be remunerated for the use of work that has fallen into public domain, I’ll accept the implied charge of hypocrisy, but the fact is that hundreds and hundreds of PD collections of comics and strips have been released over the decades and we’ve never objected to that because we don’t think it’s objectionable. (We’d have pilloried Greg Theakston by now if we did.) Public domain is public domain is public domain.

    If there is a current wave of publishers voluntarily paying heirs for PD work, I’m not aware of that, either. (Enlighten me if I missed it.) It’s entirely possible that Titan would have paid Simon out of the goodness of their hearts anyway, but it bears pointing out that much of the S+K material is NOT in the public domain, so Titan is in fact licensing work that is still owned by the original creators or owners… as Fantagraphics of course does with any work that is not PD. (Because, y’know, otherwise we’d get sued!) It just happens that the romance work HAD lapsed into PD.

    I suspect any moaning about how this edition (which contains a fraction of the S + K romance work, and treated quite differently in terms of reproduction and restoration from Titan’s books) jeopardizes the projected Titan edition is hogwash. Titan has been releasing their S + K material at the rate of one huge book a year; so far as I know they still have several other of these to get through and at worst will postpone their romance book to the end of the sequence. If anything, I think our book will function as an appetizer to their five-course dinner, and people who’ve bought our smaller, more accessible, less expensive book will be more prone to spring for the Titan tome when it comes out rather than less.

  8. James says:

    While of course it would be great if every Kirby book gave a percentage of profits to the estate, much of Kirby’s work that is in print that isn’t owned by DC and Marvel has been put out by small publishers and there most often isn’t any profit to be shared, even if public domain was not a fact. Much of this material has served the purpose of clarifying Kirby’s actual stature as a fount of innovation to dispute the claims of those who actually DO profit from his work. The real source of misery for the Kirbys is the absurd injustice of absolutely nothing out of riches almost beyond calculation…Marvel has never made a scrap of an effort to be fair. DC for their part at least provided Kirby with a way around the strict legal definition of work for hire in a way they could justify to their stockholders. They had Jack do a little redesign on the New Gods so they could give him royalties. It was an effort that paid back in good public relations. Marvel can’t bring themselves to do anything more for their aging founders than occasional benefit books: nothing, in other words because the gesture is coming from the fans who buy the book. Some cited that Marvel paid the Kirbys $350.00 A PAGE!!!! for the recent printing of a FF story that had been rejected at the end of Jack’s first go-round there. As if that means Jack.

    It’s not too late for Stan Lee to say whoops I forgot, what I said to you earlier in the Bullpen Bulletins, THAT was how it was.It’s not too late for Marvel to find a way to do the right thing and justify the heroics the company stands on. It would make all of this go away and it is just good business.

  9. Scott Grammel says:

    Since the book was far along in production well before Joe Simon died, focusing on theoretical payments to “heirs” as the sole ethical misstep here seems more an attempt to muddy the waters than to clear them up. I too had scratched my head at seeing Fantagraphics going ahead with an S&K romance comic anthology even though it was clear Titan had come to an agreement with both Simon and the Kirby estate to put out a series of volumes of their earlier work (three to date, thus far), one of which promised to focus on that same romance material. Regardless of whether these earlier works were or were not technically “public domain” material, it seemed fair to imagine that publishers well known for their commitment to artists’ rights would, in such a case, gladly step aside to allow the original co-signed creators — well, one and the other’s heirs — and their chosen publisher to benefit from any market for their work without unnecessary competition.

    Kim’s post preemptively characterized that last argument as “hogwash,” because, well, there’s lots of S&K romance material out there to be reprinted, because Fantagraphics uses different “reproduction and restoration” methods, and because their book will increase the sales of any subsequent Titan romance volume. In order, I’d characterize those three defenses as irrelevant (at best), absurd, and unlikely. Or, sure, hogwash would pretty well cover them all up as well. Could Titan put out multiple S&K romance volumes if there’s the material and a market for them? Sure. Is the reproduction and restoration really all that radically different? Probably not. Couldn’t Titan put out smaller, cheaper, softcover versions themselves (like most publishers routinely do)? Of course they could.

    For the record, I might’ve passed on commenting on this issue, but I get tired of seeing the few “brave” posters usually hiding behind pseudonyms. It embarrasses me as a human being. Not quite like civilian Syrian protesters marching month after month in spite of certain deadly opposition, is it now?

  10. Kim Thompson says:

    Yes, I must confess to a slight sting of annoyance every time we’re upbraided by some guy with a weird-ass handle.

    Scott’s response is not unreasonable, and the specific point of more or less simultaneous PD versions and “licensed” versions of the same material (a highly unusual circumstance, I might add) is taken. I don’t think we would have INITIATED this project editorially on our end knowing Titan was planning something similar. But Gagné had actually been working on it for several years, and had assembled a POD version of the complete book which he presented to us. It seemed like a lovely package that deserved to be published. And no, we didn’t (and don’t) think it would or will be harmful to an eventual, much more extensive iteration of the same material any more than Craig Yoe’s Krazy Kat or Steve Ditko projects at IDW have had any impact on our more complete projects — or for that matter Sunday Funnies’ huge-ass Krazy Kat collection, or for that matter IDW’s new EC Wood “artist’s” book, which is being released just a few months before our first EC book. (In fact I’ve had to talk down a few people I know who were appalled and horrified at IDW’s treachery in this instance by telling them I not only had no problem whatsoever with their Wood book — of course in this case both the IDW book and our EC book are licensed — but I thought if anything it would work to our mutual advantage. And I’m eager to see their book. And Yoe’s Ditko collection “sabotaged” our ARCHIVES series so thoroughly that.. we just sold out of the first one.)

    Despite what Scott says, Gagné’s restoration techniques and our printing techniques actually do have significantly different results than Titan’s; when (it’s not “if,” trust me) Titan gets around to reprinting the same handful of stories within the context of their far more extensive collection I’m sure they’ll look quite different. (Anyone who’s seem the earlier Titan books and our book can weigh in here if they want.)

    Whether our edition ends up hurting Titan’s eventual one is of course incalculable. I think it won’t, Scott thinks it will, each calls the other’s position “hogwash,” you decide! Titan will be releasing theirs (I’m assuming) one to three years from now, and fans can have a ball deciding the merits of each version. There may be a few potential buyers of the Titan version out there who WOULD have bought the Titan version but decide that the Fantagraphics one they already got is enough (these are the “lost” buyers at the center of this discussion), but I suspect this will be a minuscule sliver of a potential audience that otherwise comprises people who will enthusiastically buy both (some of whom, yes, will be people who weren’t familiar with the material who then are hooked and want more, just like buying a “Best of” CD collection often turns you into a fan who then begins to hunt down the rest of the artist’s catalog), people who never saw or bought the Fantagraphics one, and so on and so forth.

    I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game.

  11. DiamondDulius says:

    I feel the need to chime in one more time because of Mr. Thompson’s seeming indignation over the whole idea of being ethically questioned…

    Surely, you understand the situation does seem a little… fishy… to the average consumer. The cartoonist whose public crusade to get proper treatment from a publisher (instigated by your own mag, more or less), published by “allies” in a way that excludes his heirs/estate sharing the profits. I would think discussion like this is to be expected.

    However, I do remember several Journal articles stating how publishers should act more ethical, regardless of legality. Kirby being mentioned in particular.

    And to both Mr Thompson and Mr Grammel: My surname is spelled identically to a racial slur, so to avoid charges of being a racist, I use an online name. But while we’re listing irritants, going off-topic to slip insults in unrelated conversations is mine…

  12. Kim Thompson says:

    I don’t think I’ve come off as “indignant” about being “ethically questioned”; I’ve responded to the questioning extensively and I believe fairly dispassionately. Certainly no one has managed to come up with any instances of a publisher overriding public domain to gift cartoonists or heirs with ad-hoc royalties, so if we’re in any sort of ethically compromised zone, we’re there with everyone else who’s ever reprinted PD material.

  13. R. Maheras says:

    Kim wrote: “Public domain is public domain is public domain.”

    I could not agree more.

    Personally, I’m sick of special interest groups lobbying for Washington to keep changing the copyright laws to the point where they are now almost unrecognizable and arcanely complex. The laws used to be simple, straightforward and fair. Not any more.

  14. Sean Michael Robinson says:

    Lord knows this world needs MORE public domain, not less of it!

    Kim–it’s not nearly the same thing re: intention, but it’s my understanding that the early Little Orphan Annie material is public domain, but the IDW collection seems to be officially sponsored, use the logo etc, and is thus probably paying royalties. I would imagine this is so they can use the name? Certainly not for any imho nonexistent ethical reasons. “Spunky Red-Head Runaway” just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it…

  15. Kim Thompson says:

    That is correct. There is work that is in public domain but the NAME is trademarked and may not be used in the title of a book: This means you could reprint the material, but you couldn’t use the name, or the logo. (This is why you will see books like Drawn & Quarterly’s WALT & SKEEZIX series or for that matter Eclipse’s and then Fantagraphics’ KRAZY & IGNATZ.)

    Aside from the difficulty of promoting a famous strip without being able to use its name in the title (GASOLINE ALLEY and KRAZY KAT have managed to surmount the problem, to the point where I think some people actually believe the title of the latter to have always been KRAZY & IGNATZ), many classic comic strips are in the position of having part of their run in the public domain and part not. Which means that in theory IDW could have run all the PD DICK TRACY and LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE material and not paid a dime to anyone (assuming they could have found different titles that worked, not an easy task as Sean points out) — and we could’ve done the same with POPEYE — but they would eventually, since they intended to do the complete series, have run into NON-public domain work, and do you think the copyright owners would have been accommodating to someone who just finished (in their eyes) ripping them off with a series of PD releases? So paying the copyright holders for rights from the beginning allows the publishers to use those valuable names, and to segue into the fully licensed non-PD period.

    And while it is entirely possible that Titan would have paid Simon and Kirby’s heirs for their reprints regardless, it is worth repeating that Joe Simon actually maintained copyrights on much of his work (the YOUNG ROMANCE material is an exception) and thus the comprehensive Titan reprints are not an instance of PD-superseding generosity, but a fair-and-square, and necessary, licensing deal with the owner(s) of the work.

  16. R. Fiore says:

    What you’re seeing here with the Internet aided by electronic readers is the rebirth of the public domain. Before the state of things was that you had the media companies and their political influence with a strong interest in extending copyright indefinitely and no particular organized interests or public deeply invested in maintaining the public domain. Now you have what is sure to be a growing public interest in making more contemporary material available free to your Kindle or iPad, and more of an interest in getting access to orphan works that are not available simply because there’s no clear rights owner to exploit them or because they’re being kept off the market until they show some commercial value which may never come. You have individuals creating a de facto public domain by making inaccessible material available even when there might still be a rights holder somewhere. You’ve got the mentality behind legislative initiatives like SOPA, which attempts to make scorched earth of any part of the Internet that doesn’t directly serve the interests of property holders, but also a counterforce of well-healed service providers who don’t want to be forced to police their own services for the sake of rights holders. On the one hand it seems a bit odd that whereas if you buy a piece of real property you are entitled to own it and hand it down to the end of time, something you create out of your own imagination and talent is only yours for a limited time. On the other hand, the Constitution expressly states that the term of copyright is to be limited, and it stands to reason that the limit ought to be reasonable.

    Wasn’t the original Pogo series limited to the material solely owned by one of the heirs to the Kelly estate, and the rest had to wait until rights could be arranged with the rest of the family?

  17. Kim Thompson says:

    Not that I know of. I could be wrong, but I think the first Fantagraphics POGO series was always supposed to go the distance but we just ran out of steam. Good thing too, because we’re obviously doing a much better job this go-around, in part because technology has improved and in part because we’re better at it.

  18. patrick ford says:

    Simon was also heavily involved with the Titan reprints supplying original art, stats, and printed comic books, as well as writing introductions, and doing promotion.
    The next Titan book will include Simon packaged stories by Reed Crandall, and Al Williamson, it’s not clear if Titan will be paying a royalty to the estates of those creators.

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