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Monday, September 07, 2009

Undersea Heroes: DC vs. Filmation

This is the theme week that just won't die!

As a postscript to our Undersea Heroes Week, I talked about the Filmation character Manta, who briefly had his own show as part of the Tarzan and the Super 7 series.

DC Comics thought Manta was a little too close to Aquaman for comfort, so they actually filed a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement (the suit also involved Filmation's character Superstretch, who DC claimed was a lot like Plastic Man). I found a website that listed the suit and gave a few details about it. And that, I thought, was that.

But! Just a few days later, my pal and F.O.A.M. member Brian Dixon told me his girlfriend, who is a law student, and being such she has access to all sorts of legal databases. So he had her dig up the entire court decision, and send it to me! Wow!

I won't show the whole thing, since for a few pages it deals with rules of copyright law, but here are the parts directly concerning Aquaman:

I find the line on the top right of page 1280 of particular interest: "The only reasonable inference is the 1967 [Aquaman] series failed to gain network exposure in 1978 and 1979 not because of any wrongdoing by defendant, but because the show was obsolete and hence undesirable to a network, or because plaintiff, recognizing this, had voluntarily withdrawn the show from the network market, or because ABC's decision to exhibit Aquaman segments nationally as part of Super Friends had saturated that market." As if!

It's also interesting that, as part of the suit, DC alleged that Aquaman's comic book sales fell because of Filmation's Manta and Moray show. You don't have to be Matt Murdock to know that's a real stretch.

Despite this, the court basically agreed with DC, saying that Manta and Superstretch were a little too close to Aquaman and Plastic Man, in turn leading to those characters being pulled from the air, and, as of this writing, never to be seen again in any sort of official way.

You know, occasionally I do worry that at some point I am going to run out of Aquaman stuff to talk about, and the Shrine will have to stop, or reduce my daily schedule at the very least. I mean, we're not talking about Superman or Batman here.

Then I get stuff like this, an item so weird and unexpected, that it puts a stupid grin on my face and makes me think the Shrine will run forever.

Thanks Brian, and thank your girlfriend too for her intrepid research!


Wings1295 said...

Now THAT is something completely different. Very interesting. And hey, at least they called 'shenanigans' and defended their characters.

And you hit on another fear I am sure other F.O.A.M.ers have: A possible end to The Shrine.

Ack! I do worry, cause yeah, we are talking about Aquaman. And you have done so much already. Let's hope the odd and interesting and old keep mingling with the new for a long time to come, bringing fresh material for you!

Russell said...

I don't really worry about us ever running out of stuff. For all the new things we find constantly like Brave & Bold coloring books or toys, there are still quite a few heretofore unknown stuff (like Tuesday's Canadian Tires thing) and then there are dozens of things Rob just hasn't gotten around to profiling yet. For example? Well, as far as I can find, Rob, you've never profiled a single Aquaman t-shirt! And I happen to own six store-bought and three home-made, so there's a week right there!!!! :-)

rob! said...

Now wait just a cotton t-shirt-pickin' second there, Russell!

I SO have done posts on some Aquaman t-shirts!: