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Sunday, November 24, 2013 

Al Plastino seeks return of JFK drawings for Superman

Veteran artist Al Plastino, one of the contributors to Superman in the Silver Age and a co-creator of Supergirl, has been trying to get back possession of some drawings he did for a story featuring JFK:
An aging comic book artist is racing against time to recover art he created depicting Superman and President John F. Kennedy for a comic book that was to be published the same month as Kennedy's assassination.

Earlier this week, Al Plastino, 91, asked a New York state court to order Heritage Auctions to name the person who hired the Dallas-based business to sell the original artwork, "Superman's Mission for President Kennedy," so he could seek its return.

Plastino believed the artwork was supposed to have been donated to the planned Kennedy Library in Boston 50 years ago, the same year Kennedy was assassinated, according to court documents.

Plastino was surprised to learn recently that it was scheduled for auction on Friday in Beverly Hills, California. Heritage Auctions has since pulled the artwork from this week's sale, said Heritage spokesman Noah Fleisher. [...]

According to Plastino's court papers, the artwork depicts Superman and Kennedy as part of a promotion of the president's national physical fitness program.

National Comics was set to publish the comic book in November 1963, but held off after the president's assassination. It was published several weeks later at the request of President Lyndon B. Johnson, "as a tribute to his predecessor," according to an excerpt from the book's commemorative title page, which was included in the court papers.
I'd heard several years ago about the history of that story, but had no idea if it was published until now. It's a lot different from the case surrounding MAD's musical parody from the early 60s starring JFK. According to an early 90s history book I'd read called Completely MAD, out of respect for JFK's memory, Bill Gaines and company never reprinted their satire in any of their later anthologies for many years, and even today, it still may not have been reprinted.

If whoever wanted to sell Plastino's artwork through the auction company planned to do it for cashing in on the JFK Memorial service, that's just plain wrong, and Plastino is doing the right thing to fight back against this blatant exploitation of his portfolio. I hope he succeeds in winning back the art. He's already 91 years old, and it would be good if he's able to regain his work before time runs out.

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