My first book was published in 1983 so – add old timers accent – ‘I been ’round this here old place a long time’. The following event is one of the oddest experiences I had in the world of publishing. That is, if you don’t count, being ‘heckled’ by Barbar The Elephant at the Sydeny Writers’ Festival.
You may think I’m merely a mild mannered reporter. But, dear reader, I have fought a ‘superhero’ battle. It all began years ago when I wrote a book for kids titled ‘How to save the world before breakfast’. Subtitle ‘A magazine for young superheroes’. To cut a long story super-short, D.C. Comics kindly explained to my little Aussie publisher that they owned the word ‘super heroes’ and we could, to cut through the legal jargon, bugger off.
I immediately imagined the D.C Comics legal team was comprised of escapees from Krypton who, having discovered a loophole in the this-planet-will-explode contract, had escaped early in rockets and re-established themselves on the planet Legalon producing a race of Super Lawyers who were taking over our Solar System by suing the pants off every creature in the Universe.
Suffice to say, a barrister-type friend who, in his legal regalia in a high-wind did look quite Batmanish, pointed out that D. C. Comics were right. They owned the words ‘super heroes’. It was not a copyright matter. It’s a trademark!!!! So my publisher pulped the first book cover and I changed the subtitle to ‘The hilarious first addition of the Superkids Magazine’. And so the book, which gave advice on ‘How to select the right cape for you’ and ‘How to keep your hair neat in a cyclone’, was eventually published.