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Monday, April 24, 2006

Visiting Christian Teens, Protecting Superheroes, Visiting Heraty Law, and Discussing Body Parts and Fluids 


Normally when I write one of my long blog posts, I start at a certain point and work my way forward. This time I'm going to work my way backwards.

There has been long involved discussions about how Christians should and should not conform to the world. If I celebrate July 4th, am I compromising my faith? If I refuse to dance, am I limiting my ability to witness? Think about these topics while reading this article excerpt:

An Alabama church holds a "Fear Factor" youth ministry event, where teens swallow goldfish and try to escape a locked coffin to learn how to overcome fear in their lives. Actor Stephen Baldwin sheds his bad-boy image, finds God, and starts a group called Livin' It, which encourages young people to skateboard for the Lord. Dozens of Christian rock festivals across the country draw millions of revelers to events that rival the bawdy Lollapolooza....

"The day of the Christian kid being viewed as a nerd are long gone," said Bill Graening, the director of the Alive Festival, a three-day Christian music festival held each summer in Ohio that draws up to 20,000 people a day....

Wendy Schuman, an editor at Beliefnet.com, says that faith is a lot more nuanced for many teens than it is for their elders, especially when it comes to hot-button topics like abortion and homosexuality. "They don't always tow the party line," she said. "They can't see Christian faith quite as monolithic as it might seem. There's a huge middle ground."

But Machlan admits that some teens "latch on to Christianity … like it's a fad."

"It's an alternative to partying, so there is a way out for kids who don't want to be in the party scene but want cool friends," she said. "It's a safe environment, there's the relaxation of knowing there's not going to be those pressures of drugs, alcohol, sex."

This is taken from an ABC News story "For More Teens, Jesus Is Way Cool." (We'll eventually return to that thought.)

I guess these teens aren't staying at home at night and reading comic books.

Comic books? Let's look at what can kill superheroes such as Superman and Batman. Some people might think that they can best be killed by Kryptonite, guns, or sharp twigs. But actually, there's something that's even more deadly:

Anybody of any importance in Superman’s life has the initials L.L. His best friend as a kid and archenemy as an adult was Lex Luther; his high-school sweetheart was Lana Lang; the love of his life in college was Lori Lemaris; his romantic interest on the planet Krypton was Lyla Lerrol; and his wife is Lois Lane. It seems fitting, then, that Superman’s legal protector in the real world is 54-year-old Lillian Laserson, senior vice president and general counsel of DC Comics Inc.

Laserson didn’t get the job as head lawyer of the New York-based publisher because her initials are L.L. She got it because she is, as one of her colleagues put it, “a damn good lawyer.” But the L.L. connection certainly didn’t hurt....

DC is going to need Laserson’s legal skills in the coming years. The family of one of the original creators of Superman filed a request in 1998 to regain control of 50 percent of the copyright to the character; the family of the other creator recently asked DC to return the remaining portion by 2013. That means that by 2013, the company may no longer own the copyright to one of the most recognized heroes in American pop culture.

The kryptonite that is draining DC of its most prized intellectual property is a number of amendments to the Copyright Act. When Congress extended the life of copyrights in 1976 and 1998, it also gave creators and their heirs an opportunity to regain ownership of older copyrights. The idea was to allow them to profit from these extensions and also rectify any bad deals they may have entered into. In the comic book industry, many creators during the Golden Age of comics (1930–1950) assigned their copyrights to publishers for next to nothing. The creators of Superman—Jerry Siegel (the writer) and Joe Shuster (the artist)—fall into that category. In 1938 the two handed over the Superman copyright to the predecessor of DC for $130....

Although DC is a fairly litigation-free organization, the suits the company does get involved in seem to attract a lot of media attention. For instance, in 1996 Johnny and Edgar Winter, two albino blues musicians from Texas, sued DC after the company published a 1995 comic-book miniseries titled “Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such.”

The comic featured two villains, the Autumn Brothers, who were hunted down and killed by Hex, a disfigured gunslinger. The creators of the two characters were fans of the two musicians and decided to use them as the inspiration for their villains. The Winters weren’t happy, and for good reason. The Autumns, both of whom were albinos, looked strikingly similar to the Winters with just a few “minor” differences. For one, the villains were half human and half worm—the offspring of a woman who was raped by as supernatural worm creature. In addition, both had green tentacles dangling from their chests. The Winters sued for, among other things, defamation, invasion of privacy, appropriation of their names and likenesses and intentional infliction of emotional distress. DC wasn’t impressed....

In 1997 Jerry Siegel’s wife and daughter shocked the comic book world when they filed a notice of termination of transfer with the Copyright Office. The termination allows them to regain Siegel’s portion of the Superman copyright for the remaining 19 years of its life....

Siegel died in 1996 of heart failure. He had led a pretty tough life, and was nearly destitute in the early 1970s. Shuster, who died of heart failure in July 1992, wasn’t much better off....Fortunately, the two didn’t die dirt poor. In 1978, DC allegedly began paying the Superman creators $10,000 each a year as well as medical payments, but not out of the goodness of the executives’ hearts. Right before the release of the first Superman movie in 1978, a huge outcry erupted about the plight of Shuster and Siegel. To quell the bad press, DC decided not only to offer them a pension and benefits, but also to give them a “created by” credit in the Superman comics....

[I]n 1998, the second amendment to the Copyright Act—the Sonny Bono Copyright Termination Extension Act...allowed the author’s executor to file notice—as well as his or her administrator or personal representative—in the absence of a widower, children or grandchildren. So in November 2003, Shuster’s nephew, Mark Warren Peary, filed a notice to terminate. That termination will become effective in October 2013 (because Peary missed the first deadline, he will only will get 20 years).

But Laserson isn't the only person who has protected the Man of Steel:

John...did an externship in the legal department of DC Comics, where he helped defend the rights of Superman, Batman, and many other beleaguered superheroes.

This describes the work of John, a lawyer at Heraty Law in New York City, which has a web page which states the following:

Heraty Law is a firm specializing in serving the needs of small businesses and professionals in the music, entertainment, and fashion industries....

We draft and negotiate contracts, form LLCs and other business entities, consult on business issues, advise clients of their legal rights, and help companies organize and define themselves. Click here to look at the services we can offer you. We offer our clients our collective expertise and experience to help them learn, grow, and realize their goals. We pride ourselves on providing quality legal representation to those who would otherwise not have access to it....

I learned about Heraty Law in this Wikipedia entry:

External links and references

Heraty Hall website (John's legal practice)

The Wikipedia entry is devoted to Mr. Hall, whom you may have heard of for one of two reasons (emphasis mine):

John S. Hall is the founder of King Missile (Dog Fly Religion), King Missile, and King Missile III. After a couple of years of pounding away in the lower east side poetry scene, Mr. Hall formed King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) in 1986 to liven up his spoken word performances. From 1987-1991 he recorded three albums with that band, as well as a solo album, for the Shimmy Disc label, making a mark on the college radio charts with a number of spoken-word-with-music hits, including "Wuss," "Take Stuff From Work,""The Sandbox," "Rock and Roll Will Never Die," and "Jesus Was Way Cool." Although none of this went unnoticed by the major labels, John is fond of saying, "'Jesus' got me signed to Atlantic Records."

John recorded three more albums with King Missile for Atlantic, including 1992's "Happy Hour," which spawned the Beavis & Butt-head faves "Detachable Penis," and "Martin Scorsese." A new album, entitled The Body Has a Head, was released in September 2004.

I was familiar with Detachable Penis, but was not familiar with "Jesus is Way Cool" until I read this entry in Chris' blog.

I've found a cure for the blogger's theological headache!

Humor. It works every time. But dose it carefully and mix with some simplicity, and a dash of honesty.

Mix carefully, and apply liberally.

Chris then reproduces the lyrics to the song - here's a sample:

If you were blind or lame
You just went to Jesus
And he would put his hands on you
And you would be healed
That's so cool
He could've played guitar better than Hendrix
He could've told the future
He could've baked the most delicious cake in the world
He could've scored more goals than Wayne Gretzky
He could've danced better than Barishnikov
Jesus could have been funnier than any comedian you can think of
Jesus was way cool

But Hall is obviously not part of that group that we Lutherans call "Reformed":

He told people to eat his body and drink his blood
That's so cool

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Good job! I remember reading that ABC piece. The Wiki article on "Detachable Penis" just absolutely cracked me up!!!
Very interesting. I like the lawyer article the best. Maybe I have found my true calling.
Dunno what floored me the most - that the Detachable Penis guy wrote Jesus is Way Cool, or that his day job is as a lawyer.

The whole idea of getting into the Christian trend because you don't want to party is also fascinating. Over the past few weeks, we've been debating theological topics such as inerrancy, faith/works, and the like, while at the same time there's millions of people going around saying, "Christians don't have to get blitzed. That's kewl" (ironically, a works-related view with no faith whatsoever).
I still haven't written about Christian trendiness. Gots to do that.
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