Someone mentioned publisher Goodwin's habit of having various companies on paper, and having complicated publishing deals as a method of protecting them from having one go under and dragging the whole operation under.

 

Can anyone shed more light on this?

We know that Atlas/Timely was a fore-runner of what became Marvel comics, but is anyone familiar with the how and why Atlas went under and what was left.  Are there any written accounts?

Looking for help from comic historians here as well as fans....

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Yeah, Batman didn't have to use guns.  Bucky Barnes more than picked up the slack!

 

Which reminds me... some years back I took note that the most BRUTAL fight scene in the entire run of the Adam West tv series was in the 2nd half of the 2nd SHAME story.  After escaping a viscious, bloodthirsty ambush ("Ah don't want blood, ah want GORE!"), Batman BEATS THE CRAP out of the guy. I figured he was just really offended at the guy always using guns, since it was a gun that killed his parents.  As he's pounding the guy's face in, Adam West told Shame he was "going to make the streets safe for little children to play on".  Sounded corny, until I realized what he was really talking about.  I love that his Batman was never about revenge, it was always about making the world a better place-- BECAUSE HE COULD.

I wish I had Jeff of Earth-J's gift for organizing useful information so I could quote things as accurately, but I don't. So with that warning, here are my paraphrases and shoddy scholarship about these topics:

 

* Bob Kane: In his autobiography, Joe Simon expressed extreme disdain for Kane, which was surprising, since Simon was so easy-going and had few nasty words for anybody.

 

In Gerard Jones's Men of Tomorrow, he quotes Will Eisner as also being contemptuous of Kane, who did virtually no work but instead subcontracted the Batman gigs while taking the lion's share of the money. Eisner is quoted  as saying, "with girls like his art, Kane liked to look good more than being good, and I was the reverse." I may or may not have that quote right, but his remark was meant to say that Kane liked to date flashy women who never slept with him, while Eisner dated the not-so-beautiful women who were happy to do so. And with "Batman," Kane liked to LOOK like he was the main Batman artist, and certainly played the part of the artiste, but did no actual work.

 

In Julius Schwarz's autobiography Man of Two Worlds, Schwarz tells an anecdote where he needed a hand re-drawn in a Bat-book, and Kane happened to be in the office. He asked him to make the change, and Kane laboriously re-drew the hand ... and it looked terrible. Schwarz asked him to try again, and instead Kane went out in the bullpen and asked one of the staff artists to make the fix, which they did quickly and well. "Why did you do that?" Schwarz asked in amazement. "Three little words," Kane responded. "No. Actual. Talent." But because of his contract with DC, Kane's name was listed a sole creators until the mid-1960s.

 

In Men of Tomorrow again, Jones tells a story about when Siegel and Shuster decided to take DC to court over the rights to Superman. They called Kane and invited him to join the suit, figuring DC would cave when faced with the prospect of losing their top two sellers. Kane agreed, but then raced over to DC and ratted Siegel and Shuster out.

 

* Golden Age contracts: Remember when comics were beginning the country was in the Great Depression, where one out of four men were out of work. People who worked in comics were on the very last rung, in the most widely despised industry, one step from starvation. The reason they were there is because they couldn't get work in a more respectable industry (often because they were Jewish, which explains why there were so many Jews in early comics). Anyway, the point is that they were grateful for whatever work they could get, which is why the publishers could treat them like dirt -- and since many of the publishers were the worst sort of human beings known to man, most of them expanding into comic books from what was called "men's magazines,' many of them did. I am not naming names, but it's pretty well-known which of the publishers were gentlemen and which acted like mafiosi (and DC's Harry Donenfeld actually claimed to know mafiosi). That fear of the publishers extended well into the '70s, especially after DC fired all of its veteran writers in 1968, including John Broome and Gardner Fox, for having the temerity to ask for health care.

 

Also, many of the early creators were poorly-educated or at least not familiar with legalese. Joe Simon's book mentions what I've read elsewhere, that it was widely believed that "there are only two artists in comics that can read a contract, and they are Joe Simon and Will Eisner." Simon mentioned this by pointing out that HE believes he wasn't as good at it as advertised, and pointed to all the deals he made that didn't turn out so good. That may have been modesty, but I think it should go without saying that publishers (who could afford lawyers) and creators (who could not) had a serious power differential.

 

* Batman's guns: OF COURSE Batman used guns, as numerous incontrovertible reprints attest, and he did so at the beginning of his career when Kane had the most influence on the strip. According to Jones, it was editor Whitney Ellsworth who put the kibosh on the firearms. Kane made only one decision in this matter, and it was to INCLUDE guns, so his complaints seem to be disingenuous at best.

 

* The Goodman royalties: The way Simon described it was that Goodman used the same trick today's movie studios use to avoid paying royalties on mega-blockbusters by showing no profit: Goodman assigned all of the overhead on his entire line of comics to Captain America Comics. So all of the other books showed a profit, but Captain America was consistently in the red -- despite being Timely's biggest seller. It was an entirely legal bookkeeping trick to cheat Simon & Kirby out of their cut.

I forgot to mention that, according to Jones, when Kane ratted out Siegel and Shuster it was in exchange for a contract extension, which meant credit on  Batman comics for another X number of years, plus more money.

When you say Goodman had various companies "on paper", I'm reminded that the pre-hero monster books and early Silver Age hero books had statements in the indicia that they were published by "Non-Pariel" or some other company names. There seemed to be several different ones at the same time depending upon which comic you looked at. Just compare the indicia of different titles from the same month and you'll see what I mean. I don't have the originals anymore, so the only one I recall is "Non-Pariel", which I think was on the Amazing Spider-Man book. Does anyone have any information on this?  

The GCD sometimes lists the entities the comics were published through. For example, I just checked its pages for several Silver Age issues of The Avengers. Most of these list the issue's "Indicia Publisher" as "Vista Publications, Inc." The exception was the page on #47, where the Indicia Publisher's name hasn't been added yet.

Thanks for the kind words, Cap. I can confirm what you said about “Atlas” being Marvel’s distributor and Roy Thomas’ assertion that the company was officially “Timely” until it became “Marvel.” I can’t tell you which volume, but I can also confirm he made that assertion in one of his (many) Marvel Masterworks introductions.

My own research has found that the first title to bear the “MC” on its cover was Amazing Adventures (issue #3, to be precise), BUT… someone (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Luke) once posted the idicia of Marvel Mystery Comics #46 which identified the publisher as “Marvel Comics.”

For my own part, I don’t have a problem referring to the company’s pre-Marvel output as “Atlas” comics (or “Atlas-era” comics, if you prefer), given the big ol’ “Atlas” logo on the cover, even though the company never officially changed its name from “Timely.”

Can anyone adress why it would be to his benefit to have a company "on paper"?
I'm not getting why this would benefit Goodman. What are we missing here?

In Julius Schwarz's autobiography Man of Two Worlds, Schwarz tells an anecdote where he needed a hand re-drawn in a Bat-book, and Kane happened to be in the office. He asked him to make the change, and Kane laboriously re-drew the hand ... and it looked terrible. Schwarz asked him to try again, and instead Kane went out in the bullpen and asked one of the staff artists to make the fix, which they did quickly and well. "Why did you do that?" Schwarz asked in amazement. "Three little words," Kane responded. "No. Actual. Talent." But because of his contract with DC, Kane's name was listed a sole creators until the mid-1960s.

I find that maybe 5% of that story is believable. That's the problem with a lot of these "comics history" books: they focus on memories from 50-60 years ago, where legends have long ago replaced facts, and the only constant seems to be long-held grudges.

I've heard this story in  multiple forms several times over the years.  It may be an urban legend, but I tend to think that there is some basis in truth.

I think the "basis in truth" is that a lot of people found Bob Kane to be insufferable. That's the 5% of the story that I find believable.

But because of the Superman-DC (Detective Comics) bullet, everybody called them DC Comics until the company officially changed its name to DC Comics around 1976 or so.

Actually when I was a kid, we all called the company National Comics or just National.

Andy

In 1989 my wife and I attended the San Diego Comic-con. Bob Kane was there because of the first Michael Keaton Batman movie. I was disappointed when he, of all people, made a joke about Batman and Robin having a sexual relationship. I don’t think jokes about child molestation are funny.


Dave Blanchard said:

I think the "basis in truth" is that a lot of people found Bob Kane to be insufferable. That's the 5% of the story that I find believable.

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