Today, it has been 18 days since DC Comics last did something stupid, or, at least, something stupid we know about, according to the reliable counter at the Has DC Done Something Stupid Today website. However, last week, comic book fandom was treated to a stupid blast from the stupid past when the New York Post revealed that artwork which legendary artist Al Plastino created for a special Superman story fifty years ago turned up in the hands of Heritage Auctions, about to be sold for a starting bid of $200,000 at an auction in November. What's so stupid about that? Plastino was told by DC Comics management (presumably the 1960s version of Dan Didio, Don Drapio) that the artwork was going to be donated to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library at Harvard. Whoops!
According to the Post, Plastino "almost cried" when he learned that the art had never made it to the museum, and his daughter said the artist was "devastated." Plastino hoped that the art, which he considers his "pride and joy," would be preserved for his grandchildren and future generations to see. The story, "Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy," was written shortly before Kennedy's assassination, shelved due to the event, and then published at the request of President Lyndon Johhson as a tribute afterward.
According to the museum, the pages were never donated as promised, and most right-minded people would agree that the art should thus belong to Plastino, though there are surely some corporate sycophants out there who would disagree. The return of original artwork to creators has long been a sore point in the comics industry, with some particularly shitty stories about some of Jack Kirby's artwork being given away as door prizes at Marvel instead of being returned to the artist coming to mind.
So how did the artwork end up at the auction? Apparently it's been in the hands of a private collector who purchased it for $5000 at a Sotheby's auction in 1993. Legal proceedings have been filed to prevent the auction and return the artwork to the 91 year old Plastino, who resides in Long Island and suffers from prostate cancer.
As for DC, well, no one knows yet how the artwork ended up on the market, but their failure to donate them to the museum as promised constitutes what could be their first major recorded act of stupidity. The more things change...
But hey, there's no need to be negative. DC could make this all better, and score a PR win in the process, by simply buying the pages from the current owner and giving them to Plastino, preferably for a much lower price than $200,000, since you don't want to be a douchebag either, do you, current owner. Ball's in your court, DC and anonymous wealthy comic book art owner.