"Man-At-Arms, would like to borrow my shie...oh, never mind."

“Man-At-Arms, would like to borrow my shie…oh, never mind.”

As the Toy Masters movie, a documentary about all the behind-the-scenes in-fighting over the Masters Of The Universe toyline, continues in production, here’s a new thing to discuss. Legal wranglings continue to this day and a weapon more powerful than any Havoc Staff is being called on—lawsuits.

Donald F. Glut, who wrote the early mini-“comics” (as mentioned here at the Spotlight they were more like illustrated booklets), is claiming ownership of the property and I’m sure an upcoming theatrical movie and the updated Classics toyline had nothing to do with the timing. Like I’m sure Michael Bay is a huge Transformers fan. Mattel has fired back with a countersuit claiming that Glut was employed under work for hire, that they created the characters, and he was only told to make them do what the toys can already do and act as their characters were designed. (Who had what abilities, were they good or evil, that sort of thing.) This is nothing new to comic fans.

I wasn’t behind the scenes at the time but having seen the previews for Toy Masters I know that who created what is in conflict. I just re-watched this preview from 2011 and something interesting popped up. See if you catch it.

If Glut created the characters (making him the third or fourth person to claim this if the preview is any indication) why is he saying that he always thought the concept was ridiculous? He hated his own idea that much? Or is this like Bill Finger’s claim on Batman, that he took someone’s idea and fleshed it out? Does that mean Bob Budiansky can lay claim to Transformers? (If so, can he rescue it from IDW? Or at least Simon Furman?) Working on a project doesn’t make you the owner.

Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster created Superman, and some mistakes in the work-for-hire contract means they had at least some right to it. If Mattel’s claim is correct and Glut was hired to create the mini-books then he has no more standing here than he did the GoBots (he worked on that show as well as the theatrical failure Battle Of the Roclords) or Dynomutt (another show he worked on). This is what also bugs me about Finger’s claim and his supporters. He can claim creation of other characters in Batman’s world (maybe the Joker) but not Batman himself. He was given something created by someone else and made a world for him and fleshed out the character. Glut was given the premise of Masters Of The Universe by Mattel (although who in the toy creating department was responsible is what Toy Masters looks into) and created the world. Fleshing out someone else’s idea is NOT the same thing as creating it. And from what I can tell all Glut did was make the booklets based on someone else’s idea.

Gene Colon, who wrote more (and actual) mini-comics, or the guy who created Prince Adam for DC’s miniseries, have bigger claims. Colon created actual comics, and a lot more than 4, during Mattel’s original deal with DC Comics. Curt Swan created Prince Adam for his crossover with Superman in DC Comics Presents # 47 and in the context of the stories at the time I have to admit it seems unnecessary. Today we can’t think of He-Man without Prince Adam because Filmation (who also gave us the Sorceress, possible a rework of the Goddess–Mattel or Glut’s attempt to get boys to buy a second Teela figure if you ask me, and Orko) kept using the alter-ego and frankly made him a better character. They created actual characters. Glut simply fleshed out someone else’s creation and that’s not the same thing as being the creator of a character or concept.

It’s just another chapter proving that business and creativity is a two-headed beast that will always fight itself no matter how much they need each other. Of course this is just a view from the fan sitting by his computer writing an article. None of us really knows what happened in the Mattel office but we can guess after hearing all sides. That’s what a judge is going to have to do eventually.

P.S. Someone at the He-Man.org site posted an interview with Glut from 2001 that should be of interest to the discussion. He claims to have come up with some of the names but my point still stands. Budiansky did the same thing with Transformers, building on a concept Hasbro and some others at Marvel had already brainstormed. Improving something isn’t the same as creating an entire series.

 

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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