Howard the Duck
Released in 1986, the movie Howard the Duck bombed at the box office and received equally scathing reviews from critics. Yet the character Howard the Duck first appeared in writer Stephen Gerber’s Adventure into Fear: Man-Thing (#19) comic book series published by Marvel comics in December 1973 as an ancillary figure to the featured Man-Thing. In 1975, Gerber further developed the character of Howard the Duck into a “cigarsmoking, Kirkegaard-quoting duck who fights evil in fantasy worlds” for a comic book of the same name which ran from 1976 through 1979. Throughout the years, Howard fought villains ranging from the Savage Dragon to the Kidney Lady and even ran for president as part of the fictitious All-Night Party in 1976.
In 1978, Marvel removed Gerber from the series citing creative differences. Two years later, Gerber responded by suing the Marvel Corporation and its parent company Cadence Industries, Stan Lee and the writers associated with the series for copyright infringement in civil case 80-3840 tried in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles). On November 5, 1982, Judge David V. Kenyon ruled in favor of the defendant stating that Gerber created Howard the Duck as part of “work for hire” agreement with Cadence Industries and as such, “Cadence owns all right, title and interest in and to the Character and the Works, including copyrights, trademarks, goodwill and the property rights pertaining thereto.” The two parties later reached a confidential settlement outside of court wherein Marvel retained its ownership of the character.
Today, the lawsuit serves as one of the first publicized legal battles over creator ownership. It helped spur the creation of the Creator’s Bill of Rights aimed at guarding creators against large corporations’ exploitative “work for hire” practices. The Bill of Rights and its stress on creator ownership in the 1980s influenced comic book creators such as Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, creators of the widely-successful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, to self-publish comics rather than share their works with companies like Marvel.
The National Archives at Riverside holds this case among thousands of civil and criminal case files from southern California, Arizona, and Clark County, Nevada. We welcome you to explore these records and the many other series and subjects within our holdings.
From the holdings of the National Archives at Riverside, Records of the U.S. District Courts (RG 21)
The real treasures [of the National Archives] go home at night.
THE RIGHT TO COMEDIC EXPRESSION?
This week is the 45th Anniversary of the termination of Tom and Dick Smothers from CBS. According to court documents, on April 3, 1969, CBS terminated their contract with Smothers Brothers, ending the successful run of the Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour. The Brothers responded by filing suit in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California, complaining that CBS’s “purpose and intent…was to impose a censorship over the content of the material in the programs…although [they] knew that the content was expression entitled to protection under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
Their case was not universally supported, as evidenced by a letter from Maude Lobdell of Loma Linda, California, filed in the case. ”I hope you lose all suits…Your show needed to be censored,” she complained, “You offend.”
The Brothers won their legal battle, and opened the door for contemporary political comedians such as John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
This case is held by the National Archives at Riverside in our holdings of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Los Angeles).
NEA Gov Resources for March 3 Read Across America Day! (in honor of Dr. Suess)
Inspiring Students to Read
- Promoting Reading for All Children
- Raising a Reader
- Tips for Reading Aloud
- Reading to Young, School-Age Children
- Tips for Reading to Infants and Toddlers
- Get Ready for Summer Reading
- Plan a Reading Event
- Public Relations Tools
- Get Politicians and Board Members Involved
- Downloadables: Calendars, Certificates, and More
Booklists from NEA
- Teacher’s Top 100 Books for Children
- Kids’ Top 100 Books
- Asian-American Booklist
- Spanish/English Bilingual Booklist
- 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Read
- 50 State Booklist
- Native American Booklist
- African American Booklist
- Authors’ Favorite Booklist
- Books by Theme for Elementary-Age Children
- Notable Children’s Books Lists
- Books to Support English Language Learners
- House Resolution 495: Encouraging people in the United States to recognize March 3, 2014, as Read Across America Day
- President Barack Obama Proclaims March 3, 2014, Read Across America Day
Last week, were happy to host the recipient of the 2013 Research Fellow, sponsored by the Foundation for the National Archives. Dr. Melanie Sturgeon visited us to utilize our holdings of Arizona Territorial Court records. She is researching the business of prostitution in the Territory. Dr. Sturgeon found lots of useful material, including this permit, issued by the City of Globe to local prostitute, Bertha Reed.
Over the past several decades two federal agencies, the U.S. Navy and and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have shipped over 1,000 cubic feet of maps and drawings to our facility. These items came to our facility rolled, undescribed, and in poor containers. Over the past several years we have begun to flatten, described, and properly store these maps and drawings.
How do we do it? We pull a roll of tightly wound drawings from their original containers and check the condition of the items. The drawings are then placed in one of two humidification chambers. These chambers trap humidity, which allows a slight raise in the moisture content of the maps and drawings. The items are then removed from the humidification chambers and placed between wool felt, and spun polyester. A plexiglass cover and weights are placed on top. This allows the moisture to evaporate, keeps the items separated, and helps keep them flat. Once they are flat, they are put in large map folders, listed in our inventory database, and placed in a map cabinet in the temperature and humidity controlled archival storage area.
Some of these drawings document the development of flood control in southern California and Arizona. Some of them document military sites such as the old El Toro base in Orange County, California. All of them are unique and contribute to the history of our area.
Obit of the Day (Historical): Capt. George Streeter (1921)
As the story goes, Civil War veteran Captain George Streeter ran his boat aground on a sandbar 450 feet from the Chicago shoreline on July 11, 1886. And he left it there…for 32 years.
Mr. Streeter recognized prime land when he saw it and decided to lay claim to the sandbar as well as the 186 acres of landfill that he had contractors dump to surround the boat. Residents in the area (then Pine Street and now Michigan Avenue) were none-to-happy and took measures to remove Mr. Streeter. The first attempt failed when a Mr. N.K. Fairchild sent men to evict the captain who scared them off with a sawed-off shotgun.
After that incident, Capt. Streeter used his veteran’s status to declare homesteading rights. Using an 1821 map of Chicago he determined that the eastern boundary of the city was clearly defined to end at the shoreline and he created the independent “District of Lake Michigan.”
Property owners, banks, and the city of Chicago would try for more than three decades to move Mr. Streeter off the land. Meanwhile Mr. Streeter transformed his boat into a two-story home and sold lots of the Lake District to various people.
He was arrested on several occasions but always managed to find his way back to “Streeterville” as it was dubbed by locals. Even in 1902 after he was found guilty of murder, the governor of Illinois decided the eccentric landowner was framed and pardoned him after nine months.
Finally in 1918, the captain was permanently removed - for selling liquor without a license. The Chicago Title and Trust Company moved into Streeterville and tore down the settlement.
The Streeters were not done, though, and for another ten years his descendants fought in court to claim the land, which had exploded in value after the opening of the Michigan Avenue bridge in 1920. In 1928, the courts finally found for Chicago Title and Trust and the Streeter’s were never to return. (There was one more lawsuit brought forward by the captain’s family in 1940 but it was dismissed before trial.)
Capt. Streeter moved to East Chicago, Indiana after his final eviction in 1918 and opened up a floating hot dog stand on Lake Michigan. He died of pneumonia on January 22, 1821 at the age of 84. William Hale Thompson, the mayor of Chicago, attended his funeral.
You can find the site of Capt. Streeter’s homestead by heading to the Magnificent Mile and standing at the northeast corner of Michigan Ave. and Delaware Place…and looking up. Because it’s now home to the John Hancock Building and the neighborhood around it is called “Streeterville” to this day.
(Image of Captain George Streeter during one of his many stays in jail, circa 1880s, is copyright of the Chicago Tribune)
We have had students in workshops who can’t read the original source material of their nation’s history. We are always a little sad to see them frustrated when they should be engaged.
On the back cover of a 1967 album by Robert Pete Williams, beneath a photo of the Mississippi blues musician, appears a signature rendered illegibly in a strained combination of print and script. The lines shake with a careful effort which yields results only a step better than his the X his sharecropper father likely made. Takoma records trumpeted Williams’ illiteracy—with the printing of the signature they signaled to the audience the thrill of a hardened criminal life and raw emotion of the primitive musician. But the single line of scrawl is more deeply emblematic of the evils of the segregated society.
The signature, the ability to sign one’s own name with grace and confidence, has long been an essential marker of society. Today more and more I meet high school students who, though they can read, sometimes well and sometimes poorly, are ashamed whenever they are confronted with the need to sign a document. Students are sometimes too embarrassed to admit that they can’t read a piece of an important historical document or the comments of a teacher who writes in script. Script is not seen by students as some quaint relic of the past. Even among kids for whom academic achievement is hardly “cool,” students recognize the pedigree that the knowledge of the cursive alphabet and the ability to write it fluently represent. Cursive has become a status marker.
Read more. [Image: Jae C. Hong/AP Photo]