Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tale of the Tape

     How would it really feel to be that fly on the wall; to hear history in the making?
     As recounted in my previous post, there was a basic disagreement over who was the creator of the process that made 3-D comic books possible. Leonard Maurer claimed it came to him "fully formed", while inventor, Freeman H. Owens swore it was based upon his 1936 patent. As any time when money is at stake, a lawsuit was inevitable. But it wasn't just Owens and Maurer who were involved. There were others; others with a financial interest, with a lot to lose and a lot to gain. 
     What follows is a transcript of a taped conversation I obtained from the National Archives. The men speaking are legends in the comic book industry, icons of popular culture, and key players in the drama surrounding the creation of 3-D comics. 
     This is a very long transcript, but to maintain the flow of the conversation, I've chosen to present it in one post. The only edits I have made are to correct obvious misspellings and typos. Since this blog is accessible to all ages, I also partially censored some of the stronger vulgarities . 
     Due to this post's length, I have refrained from making any comments. Those will appear in my next post, which will also explain references made by the speakers and details on the names they mentioned. -- Ken Quattro

Transcript of a tape-recorded interview between Mr. Joe Kubert of American Stereographic Corporation and William M. Gaines and Albert B. Feldstein of Entertaining Comics Group, held in room 803, at 225 Lafayette Street, New York City, on August 3, 1953, at approximately 12:05 p.m., through 1:15 p.m. __________________________________________________________

FELDSTEIN:  Hello, Joe!

KUBERT:  Hi ya, hi, ya!

FELDSTEIN:  Joe Kubert, as I...

KUBERT:  Is this your sanctum sanctorum?

FELDSTEIN:  Yah. Sit down Joe. Is it “Cuebert” or Koobert”?

KUBERT:  Any way you want to say it, as long as it isn't dirty; it's alright...Very, very nice.

GAINES:  Al was having a lot of trouble...

FELDSTEIN:  In fact, Lenny was up here, you know. Lenny came up to see us.

KUBERT:  When was this?

FELDSTEIN:  When we were...You tell him Bill.

GAINES:  About three weeks ago, was it?

FELDSTEIN:  He was kind of cool. Quite frankly, his attitude was very belligerent.

GAINES:  Tell you why we wanted to talk to you alone, Joe. There are a lot of interesting...developments and in trying to figure out what was going on...for some queer reason, I assumed all along, that you're an honest man...

KUBERT:  I'm flattered.

GAINES:  So figuring that you/re an honest man, we came to the conclusion that maybe you didn't know some of the things we found out. So frankly I was curious to know whether you knew them, and if you don’t know them, I want to tell you.

KUIBERT:  I’m all ears.

FELDSTEIN:  Do you want to first tell him what Lenny said to us?

KUBERT:  I would like to know because I've heard...because Leonard has pretty well kept us up on things happening. He repeated the things...

FELDSTEIN:  Well, Lenny said to us if we go ahead with 3-D, with our process, American Stereograph (sic) will sue us for unfair competition...fair trade or something like that.

GAINES:  Well, he didn't say so in so many words.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, he said a civil suit, that’s what he said.

GAINES:  He said Posnack has a civil suit all prepared to hit us with no matter what our process is.

FELDSTEIN:  See...and...and...I was trying...

KUBERT:  Them's pretty hard words.


KUBERT:  Them’s pretty hard words.

GAINES:  Yeah...Well, I think you're .going to be pretty surprised at what we have to tell you. If you're not, ah, maybe...maybe you know.

FELDSTEIN: Well, look, this is the way we felt about it, Joe. When you sent out your circulars and everything, we immediately figured out the process...and when we went up to see you...


FELDSTEIN:  We told it to you, right? And Lenny said...

GAINES:  That's the...

FELDSTEIN:  When we explained the process that we had...we said we had a process...


FELDSTEIN:  He said it was actually your process, right?

KUBERT:  Well, no, actually what happened up there was we were not in a position where we could say that your process was like ours because had we admitted something like that...

FELDSTEIN:  Well, you'd be telling us that it is your process...but Lenny did say it infringed...


GAINES:  The point I am trying...

FELDSTEIN:  But it is your process.

GAINES:  The point I’m trying to establish...

KUBERT:  As to myself, I happened to be only one of the four fellows up there in the Stereographic office. I’m not as of of probably about a month and a half ago in the Stereographic office at all. Neither Norman or myself. That’s why I asked if it would be O.K. if Norman came up here. Because neither Norm or myself have been doing any business with Stereographic.

FELDSTEIN:  Who are the other two?

KUBERT:  What two?

FELDSTEIN:  You said there are four fellows in Stereographic.

KUBERT:  There are four. St. John, there is Leonard, myself, and Norman.

FELDSTEIN:  What about Posnack?

KUBERT:  Posnack is not any part of it -- as yet. He had offered Lenny. He had offered...he wanted to come in. As a matter of fact, it’s in the stage of being negotiated right now.

GAINES:  Are you sure he isn’t in already?

KUBERT:  I’m positive he isn’t in already.

FELDSTEIN:  At this stage of the game...

GAINES:  No, look, wait -- you phrase it in such a way that Joe doesn’t want to answer. What I’m trying...what I’m trying to say was...we came up there knowing a process.


GAINES:  Knowing a process...It took me about an hour to figure out what I thought I could produce...a way I thought I could produce a book to look exactly like the book you had produced.

KUBERT:  The same.

GAINES :  We came up that first day, the first Friday; we got the brochure on a Thursday. I don’t know what date it was offhand, and we came the next day, because Al and Harvey were all excited. We came in and we told you at that time that we knew a process. And we said, “How do we know that we don’t have the same process as you have? Or maybe we have a different process. Why should we pay you $2,500 a book?” Lenny said, “You tell me the process, and I’ll tell you if it infringes.” So I told him the process; I said, “You make a drawing on cells, plane by plane; you take a picture, you shift the cells varying amounts, you take another picture.” And he said, “That infringes.”

KUBERT:  Right.

GAINES:  Now, at that time, I was very definitely given to understand that he had...that you had...patents pending.

KUBERT:  Right.

GAINES:  On the process.

KUBERT:  Right.

FELDSTEIN:  Excuse me. And we felt, you know the attitude we had. Remember Lenny...Lenny said to me, “ know.” I mean, I said to Lenny, “You guys got it.”

KUBERT:  I remember it distinctly.

FELDSTEIN:  You went ahead and put your patent in.

KUBERT:  Right. So...

FELDSTEIN:  Although we know the process, we’re up the creek. Unless we want to try and beat you out before you get your patent. See, that’s why we went through this routine to tell you why we knew the process.

KUBERT:  I was very happy about the fact that you guys did play it...

FELDSTEIN:  When we went in, we really were serious about going into production. So that’s why we sent Bill Elder up. Because remember the whole routine with the contract. Everything would be worked out amiably.

KUBERT:   Right.

FELDSTEIN:  And we wanted to be all signed up, sealed and ready to go. We wanted to catch an August crowd if we could or at least get out soon so that’s why we sent Bill up. But Bill, when Bill went up, I had already produced a page on some cells and showed it to him.

KUBERT:  What’s this again?

FELDSTEIN: I had already produced a page with cells.

KUBERT:   What was this? When did you do this?

FELDSTEIN:  Before Bill went up went up to get a disclosure from you.


FELDSTEIN:  When he was up there, didn’t he tell you that I showed it to him?

KUBERT:  Not that I remember. Perhaps he told it to the other boys.I don’t remember...

FELDSTEIN:  Well, he did. It was funny, he was surprised to find out that we never did get a disclosure.

GAINES:  It was a week and a half later, before Bill realized that we didn’t get a disclosure from you...because...

KUBERT:  Well, that can’t be because I remember telling Bill myself specifically that no one up in the office knows what the process is as yet and since he has signed these papers, he’s not to talk about it to anybody up in the office.

GAINES:  He went along. He went along. Well, I’ll tell you, as far as that disclosure is concerned, that’s one thing I want to discuss, not the biggest thing. I sent Bill up to sign a disclosure that he had seen the process. I didn’t know that in the disclosure was also going to be (1) “I admit I never heard of this or had any prior knowledge of it.” (2) “I agree not to so forth and so on for five years.”


GAINES:  I didn’t know that was in there...because we had already been negotiating with Posnack to have that thing out of our contract. You see? But that’s neither here nor there...the thing is, that we had a method, ...I still don’t to this day know if it’s exactly the same as yours.

FELDSTEIN:  Bill has never told us your process.

GAINES:  We’ve been for legal reasons very goddamn careful…

KUBERT:  Very frankly, I’ll tell you, both Norman and myself have talked about that particular point, and we realize it’s like hanging, like holding on to a guy by the nuts by having him sign a paper like that. And it could conceivably bring it to a point where a guy might have to sacrifice a certain amount of his money-making potential for having signed that paper.

GAINES:  But, Joe, do you know why?

KUBERT:  We couldn’t do anything else.

GAINES:  Do you honestly and truly know what all those clauses were in the contract that I objected to? And do you know...

KUBERT:  Do I know why? Frankly, I did not.


GAINES:  I know why those clauses were in the contract, and I know why that disclosure...

FELDSTEIN:  Well, here comes the thing...

GAINES:  Here’’re going to get yourself shocked...I hope...

FELDSTEIN:  We feel that you’re going to get shocked. We don’t know. You may be aware of this. Do you know you’re not going to get a patent?

GAINES:  Did you ever hear of a man by the name of Freeman Owens?

KUBERT:  Freeman Owens?

GAINES:  Yeah...


GAINES:   Did you ever see Owens’ patent?


FELDSTEIN:  Show him Owens’ patent...

GAINES:  Did you know that American Stereographic a week and a half ago or so got a letter from Owens? Did you know that?

KUBERT:  Son-of-a-bitch.

GAINES:  Now, raise your right hand, did you know it, Joe? Huh?

KUBERT:  Well, I’ll tell you. Leonard did tell me that we had received some information that put our patent in a very shaky position, but he did not tell me what it was. He said that the less people that spoke about it, the better off, we’d all be.

GAINES:  Joe, how much does Lenny know? I mean Normy know? Is he very friendly with Lenny?

KUBERT:  Pretty much. But he’s pretty busy lately.

FELDSTEIN:  Let me ask you this: Did you examine the patent search?

KUBERT:  St. John did. St. John got the patent search. As a matter of fact, as we told you up in the office...

FELDSTEIN:  Who made St. John’s patent search?

KUBERT:  The one guy was this Asher Blum.

FELDSTEIN:  Did he go to Washington?


FELDSTEIN:  He did a patent search here?

KUBERT:  He has people, or he had people, I understand...well, one other guy that did a patent search was what’s his name? Posnack.

FELDSTEIN:  We know about Posnack. Posnack is Supreme Knitting Mill’s patent attorney, right?

KUBERT:  That’s...ah...yeah...that’s how we got involved with him.

FELDSTEIN:  That’s how Lenny got involved?

KUBERT:  That’s right...that’s right.

FELDSTEIN:  Did Lenny ever do any patent work for Supreme Knitting Mills? Did he ever go down to the library and examine books?


FELDSTEIN:  Do you know that there is a knitting mill patent...there is a knitting patent...two away from Mr. Owens’ patent?

GAINES:  Here, Joe, brace yourself. Seventeen years ago. Read it.

FELDSTEIN:  Look at the pictures. We did a search on what we felt was your process, which you told us infringes.


FELDSTEIN:   We did a search on that process, and we came across this patent. Didn’t your boys come across this patent?

KUBERT:  Where did you do this search? Did you go up to Washington to do it?

FELDSTEIN:  Why did you ask that question?

KUBERT:  Because I know there was a cursory search made. And I know that several different patents dating back to the late 1800’s were submitted to Mr. St. John. And he looked over those patents and none of them came anywhere near...

FELDSTEIN:  Was that patent ever given to St. John?

KUBERT:  No. No, sir.

FELDSTEIN:  Post engraving made a search and didn’t turn up that patent in Washington.

KUBERT:  Didn’t?

FELDSTEIN:  They couldn’t find it. In other words, when he asked out Class 88, you see the front of that patent--it says Class 88--when he asked out Class 88, he got a sheaf of patents to read, and it comes out of a hopper or shelf or somewhere in the patent office in Washington, and that’s how every patent attorney makes a search. He reads all the patents.


FELDSTEIN:  And that patent was not in that file.

KUBERT:  You’re kiddin’.

GAINES:  I ask...

FELDSTEIN: We ask whether it was possible for someone to have pulled that patent.

KUBERT: Where did...

FELDSTEIN:  That comes later, Joe. He did pull out a patent given to Disney...not to Disney, to two animators in 1950 involving some kind of a shift of cells on the Garrity Camera. But in the back of that patent was a citation. Do you know what a citation is on the back of a patent? There isn’t any on that one.

KUBERT:   I know very little about patents.

FELDSTEIN:  All right. Show him the patent, Bill.

GAINES:  Here’s the first patent we got ahold of...somebody got it for us.

FELDSTEIN:  That patent showed up. The Owens’ patent did not.


GAINES:  Look it up, Al.

FELDSTEIN:  See, it says, “References cited: Owens.” Now, we looked up...this is the Garrity reference...


FELDSTEIN:  The Garrity is a camera...


FELDSTEIN:  Burkhardt you looked at them all?

GAINES:  What’s the difference?

FELDSTEIN:  None of these were applicable. Owens was this patent. So we went to see Owens’ patent in the New York Public Library.

(At this point there were three people speaking at the same time and the voices were indistinguishable.)

FELDSTEIN:  We immediately started to wonder what is going on. Is it a swindle or something? Four patent searches don’t turn up your process?

KUBERT:  Christ!

FELDSTEIN:  What about Asher Blum?

GAINES:  Now, the following is pure speculation, pure speculation.

KUBERT: (Whistles)

FELDSTEIN:  Bill and I are twisted mentally...

KUBERT:  This is quite a shock.

GAINES:  I thought it would be, Joe. I am glad it is too, because I didn’t want to think you were in it. Maybe Norman isn’t either, but I didn’t want to take a chance.

FELDSTEIN:  We may be all wrong, Joe.

GAINES:  Here’s my thought, Al’s and my thought. This is not an accusation, it’s a thought. Lenny is thumbing through idly through old patent books looking for something on mill equipment. Two or three patents away from something on mill equipment. Two or three patents away from something on textile equipment... incidentally, there was one five behind it and one to three in front of it. He might have been going from one to the next. And if you will notice that Owens’ patent... if you’re thumbing through a volume with 200 of these, and you went through and you see a thing like that, it hits you in the eye. If you have a brother in the comic business...

FELDSTEIN:  Tarzan...

GAINES:  Now this, Joe, now, later, I’ll give you time to read it, but you can see the shift. If you read this word for word, Joe, down to coloring in different pencils...

FELDSTEIN:   Whose idea was that, Joe? Coloring in different pencils?

KUBERT:  That was just in kicks. Norm and I were doing it in pencils...

FELDSTEIN:   Lenny didn’t suggest it, did he?

KUBERT:  No, sir. As a matter of fact, I know it couldn’t have worked this way because if anything, it’s strictly coincidental.

FELDSTEIN:  No, no, no. The layout...

KUBERT:  Strictly coincidental.

FELDSTEIN:  O.K., O.K., all right.

KUBERT:   I’ll explain to you why. The idea came from myself. It originated from me.

FELDSTEIN:  You mean the penciling?

KUBERT:  No, sir. The idea of 3-D in comic books came from me. Leonard did not suggest it. It did not come from Leonard. We were seated, I might have told you...I’m not sure...

FELDSTEIN:  But Lenny has seen 3-D in comics four years ago.

KUBERT:  He said that he had seen something that you had shown him.

FELDSTEIN:  Four years ago?


GAINES:  But why does Lenny go around now palming this off as his idea, his process?

KUBERT:  Actually, all three of us, you know, have filed our names on the patent application. All three of us are down there as inventors.


GAINES:  Who actually had the thought of shifting planes with cells?

KUBERT:  Leonard was the guy.

GAINES:  Leonard.

FELDSTEIN:  Do you think Leonard got that...

GAINES:  Joe, is it possible that when you suggested 3-D in comics...what was your original thought on how to do it?

KUBERT:  I had an idea. I had suggested this to several people. I had talked it around a bit. The thing that gave me the idea originally was that I had seen several books, several magazines in Europe while I was overseas in three-dimensions, but they were photographs and I immediately thought this applied to comic books, if it could be done in art work. I knew nothing of what the problems it involved or anything else.

FELDSTEIN:  Did you ever see our old stuff, by the way? The thing I showed Lenny four years ago?


FELDSTEIN:  You want to show it to Joe?

GAINES:  Well, it has no bearing on this.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, it was a one-panel drawing.


FELDSTEIN:  In three dimensions. You looked at it through red and blue glasses.

KUBERT:  Was that a drawing or was it a set-up? Or was it done in set-ups?

FELDSTEIN:  I didn’t tell Lenny how it was done...I don’t think! And what is the difference?

KUBERT:  Leonard said that was in the set-ups...he did mention it. He did say that it was in set-ups.

FELDSTEIN:  He did say it wasn’t set-ups?

KUBERT:  It was in set-ups.

FELDSTEIN:  Was in set-ups?


FELDSTEIN:  Well, actually, it was in set-ups. This was a stage. Naturally, you see the plane running away from me on the sidewalk?


FELDSTEIN:  The fence running away from me? You can’t get that in planal (sic) shift. But that’s not the point. This is something he knew about while he was working for Supreme Knitting Mills. So if he came across this system, and say that it was...

KUBERT:   Did he see this?


KUBERT:   Four years ago? He saw this four years ago?

FELDSTEIN:  Yes, My wife, my mother-in-law, my mother were there at the time. Lennie came up from Georgia Tech. I think he just graduated or was still going and I...

GAINES:  All this is quite besides the point.

FELDSTEIN: ...came up in a red Oldsmobile convertible.

GAINES:  All this is quite beside the point...

FELDSTEIN:  We were know the old friend routine. I don’t say he stole this idea...but 3-D in comics was imbedded in his mind from this. Now, perhaps he ran across this patent while he was working for Supreme...

GAINES:   Or something else.

KUBERT:   He never mentioned it.

GAINES:   Or perhaps when 3-D in comics was thought of, Lenny having something to do with patents and knowing about it, which you or I or Al probably would never in our wildest dreams think to go look in a book of patents...I never did in my life until recently. He might have run across it then. I don’t know when he ran across it. As I say, I don’t even know for sure if he did run across it. Although I had a case all built up in my mind. It looked awful fishy.

FELDSTEIN:  Now, this is the patent.

KUBERT:  What’s his first name?

FELDSTEIN:  Freeman H. Owens.

GAINES:  He sent two letters of cease and desist to St. John’s...

FELDSTEIN:  He sent a letter to American...

KUBERT:  I know that there has been a furor up there. I know that there has been a lot of trouble up there.

FELDSTEIN:  Did the find that patent yet?

KUBERT:  This patent?


KUBERT:  I’m not sure. I just came in the first of the week.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, well, he sent them another letter telling them that the number of the patent was. If you look at the date of that patent, Joe, you see that it expires this October...which means that it becomes public property.

 KUBERT:  I notice it was submitted in 1934.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, it was submitted, but it was given patent in ‘36. On October 13th. The point being that with clauses like you tie us up with a process that was public property.

GAINES:  When I first went to my lawyer and he started raising objections, he said, “They’re up to something.” I says, “No, I know Joe Kubert. They’re not up to anything.” He kept raising objection after objection to the contract, and I kept trying to talk him out of it. So, I learned a lesson, don’t argue with a lawyer. Now listen to some of these. In the light of what you now know, you can see what was bothering me. Now, let me find the ones. Now this, “…licensee admits that prior to the date of this agreement, it has had no knowledge of or interest in any invention, process or technique for the creation of three dimension multiple plane effects from a picture produced from an original drawing or print on a single plane and admits licensor’s right to a valid patent therefore, and further agrees to admit the validity of any letters patent that may issue for said invention and never to contest the validity of any such patent.” 

FELDSTEIN:  In other words, we had to…after telling you that we knew your process...


FELDSTEIN:  Or a process that would was your process. We had to then say we didn’t know it.


FELDSTEIN:  Now, do you see a reason for that?

KUBERT:  Now let me give you an explanation, this is the reason that was given to me; now I didn’t go into this blindly. There was certain information that I was given when I went into this and it seemed to me pretty logical stuff at the time, and perhaps it still does. One reason that we were asked, we were told, that it would be wise to put clauses like that in, was in case that a patent was not granted to us, on certain of those patents, in other words, if there had been...not figuring that the thing has been patented at first, but if it couldn’t be patented at all…In other words, if it was just unpatentable...

FELDSTEIN:  Or if it had been patented and was running out...

KUBERT:  That, that side of it I wasn’t given.

FELDSTEIN:  You see, that’s...

GAINES:  “The licensor agrees that it will disclose to the licensee the invention forming the subject matter of this agreement, said disclosure to be made in a written statement to be submitted to the licensee simultaneously with the execution of this agreement. Said agreement being part of a disclosure agreed by the licensee.” “The licensee agrees that it will sign said disclosure agreement simultaneously with the execution of this agreement.” And so on and so forth...“the licensee agrees to keep confidential the subject matter of the disclosure and any technique and processes disclosed,” and so on and so forth. “The licensee further agrees not to engage either directly or indirectly in the production of plates according to said invention or in the practice of said invention without the written consent of the licensor.” Here is what they were going to do. At least this is the way that ...

FELDSTEIN:  I...there were some other very weird paragraphs in it. Especially these ones about suits and infringements, where you have the right to decide whether you would sue or not. Well, cripes, if D.C. comes out with this system after October or November, when they can and I say to you, “Joe, sue them, this is your process,” you haven’t got a leg to stand on. This is public property.

KUBERT:  There is another problem there, too. Had we had a patent on it, and if you wanted to cause trouble for us, being that we had the patent, if you...I was going to be speaking broadly, if you want to cause trouble for us, you could set somebody up for us to sue and force us to sue these people. Therefore, expending a heck of a lot of our dough, making some sort of a deal with these...

FELDSTEIN:   That’s a very nice reason, but do you see mine? Isn’t it a little logical?

GAINES:  That’s the reason.

FELDSTEIN:  You had no right to sue D.C. after October.

GAINES:  And here’s the clincher, Joe.

FELDSTEIN:  Let me finish, please, Bill. With the existence of the Owens’ patent...


FELDSTEIN:   ...making...I mean the ending of the Owens’ patent, the fact that it expires, and the process becomes public property, you have no right to sue D.C. But I am mad as hell because I am tied up with you. D.C. isn’t tied with you, and therefore got 15-cent magazines, and I want you to stop them and you can’t. And you won’t.

KUBERT:  That was your objection in the first place.

FELDSTEIN:  All right. There was another clause in that agreement that we would be responsible for infringement suits on us.

GAINES:  That was the one that I couldn’t figure until it occurred to me. So what the hell could they be trying to do up there? Here they are selling us something that they don’t own.


GAINES:  What can they possibly be trying to achieve? Nobody could that stupid. Because they’d get sued, and then it occurred to me one time, they don’t get sued, I get sued. Because when my lawyer pointed that out and asked Posnack, or somebody up there, to put in a clause that if anybody sues for patent infringement: (1) they would defend the suit and, (2) they would pay the damages, they being American Stereo…


GAINES:  He says, “No. Take it or leave it,” he says.

FELDSTEIN:  Now, isn’t that rather weird?

GAINES:  That’s where I pulled out. Then we started looking and this is what we found.

FELDSTEIN:  Let’s hear Joe’s thoughts on this.

KUBERT:  Well, from the ay you speak, I mean, apparently you both feel that somebody knew all the time that this patent existed, and…

FELDSTEIN:  We suspected it…

KUBERT:  And possibly might have even pulled it out of the Washington files.

FELDSTEIN:  That is pure speculation.

GAINES:  We got fantasy minds, Joe.

FELDSTEIN:  Joe, Bill and I make plots all the time. And they’re very weird.

KUBERT:  Frankly, I knew that something like this existed. During last week, I knew that something like this existed. As I told you, Lenny…

FELDSTEIN:  During last week was a heck of a lot too late.

KUBERT:  Last week was the first time that I heard about it.

FELDSTEIN:  Lenny knew when the letters came.

KUBERT:  …Dreams about this. We started this whole business on the premise that we might get a patent. We went up to Posnack…

FELDSTEIN:  Had Lenny had any dealings with Posnack previous to you three going up…any private talks?

KUBERT:  You mean about the patent?

FELDSTEIN:  Yah. Posnack would have to be aware of this whole thing. In drawing up these contracts…if this, as I say, if our suspect (sic) is correct or even partially correct…if what we think…


FELDSTEIN:  …happened, Posnack would have to be in on this. In other words…

KUBERT:  Tell me this. I want to know this. In a cursory search…now you know there are two different types of searches…

GAINES:  This was very cursory.

FELDSTEIN:  In a cursory search, that patent did not turn up in Washington.

GAINES:  No, in Washington it didn’t. Well, on fellow it didn’t turn up for. We sent a patent lawyer down, and he specifically requested that…

FELDSTEIN:  He goes to a different department.

GAINES:  It’s one thing to request a patent, and it’s another thing to…

KUBERT:  What I want to know is this:  Should Posnack have turned up…

GAINES:  My God, yes. Four patent searches?

FELDSTEIN:  A cursory search should have turned up that patent in Class 88...if it was there.

GAINES:  That’s what I couldn’t figure…

KUBERT:  Well, you  know what’s going to happen, don’t you?

GAINES:  I know what’s going to happen.

FELDSTEIN:  What’s going to happen?

KUBERT:  St. John…the first thing St. John will do is sue Posnack because he put down on that patent application that to his knowledge he…he was submitting that patent on the basis that the patent…when a patent attorney submits a patent, he has to sign down…sign on the patent application…that as far as he knows, he sees no reason why this patent shouldn’t go through, and there is no patent…

FELDSTEIN:  As far as he knows, Joe. What is he doing, tying up his life?

KUBERT:  Yah. What the heck would they call it? Actually he didn’t do the type of job that he was supposed to do.

FELDSTEIN:  So what?

KUBERT:  Do you know who has made more money out of this thing that anybody else so far?


KUBERT:  No, sir. Posnack. That’s right. Posnack has made more money than anybody in this whole deal so far.

FELDSTEIN:  How much does Lenny make?

KUBERT:  Lenny gets paid a salary from Stereographic.

FELDSTEIN:  Is he getting a better salary than he got at Supreme?

KUBERT:  Yah. I doubt very much if he’s go in on that frankly. That’s why, even if he was making a thousand dollars a week, which he isn’t, and far from it, he certainly wouldn’t take a think like this knowing it would go kaput sometime, and that would be the end of it.

FELDSTEIN:  It wouldn’t have gone kaput after November. October 13th to be exact. If Freeman H. Owens was out in Oshkosh, Ohio, and he never bothered about this or he was dead or sick in the hospital, and this thing ran off into October, unless he came out and sued, because he published previous to…

GAINES:  Do you know where Freeman H. Owens was?

KUBERT:  Where was he?

FELDSTEIN: In the hospital.

GAINES:  The man is so near to death. He’s had seven strokes. He’s an old man…a little old man.


KUBERT:  Did you see this guy?

GAINES:  Sure.

FELDSTEIN:  Wait a minute, Joe, let me say something before we go on. I would say a month ago and before, up to about 1950, no one could even have located Freeman H. Owens.


FELDSTEIN:  He was in a hospital.

KUBERT:  Since that time?

FELDSTEIN:  And it’s very difficult to locate a man from a patent. From 1950 to about tow months ago, he was in and out of hospitals. He had closed down his business, whatever it was, I don’t know. When we located him…when we located him…he had been out of the hospital three days, and we located him by a stroke of…I don’t know what kind of luck. I became a Mickey Spillane detective and I went up  to the library; we were in the library when we found the patent. I found his name, it said 1936; we went up to the…we took out old telephone books…we took out old ledgers on everything…

KUBERT:  You were the fellows that contacted him, told him about this thing, and caused him to write these letters?



FELDSTEIN:  He knew about it. When we went up to see him, he had the “Mighty Mouse" book in his hand.

KUBERT:  Well, what are his ideas on the subject?

FELDSTEIN:  He’s sore as hell. He hasn’t made a dime out of this patent since 1936.

GAINES:  He’s a pathetic old character. He…

FELDSTEIN:  In fact…well, it’s up to you, Bill.

GAINES:  At this point I guess it’s all right.

FELDSTEIN:  I don’t know; it’s up to you.

GAINES:  Yes, it’s all right. We bought the patent.

KUBERT:  I see.

GAINES:  But he wouldn’t sell the rights to sue.

FELDSTEIN:  Show him the contract. It’s a very simple contract. He knows it has got three more months to run. See?

(Mr. Kubert whistled at this point and laughed.)

FELDSTEIN:  What are you laughing at? I’ll tell you why we had to buy the contract, Joe. If we didn’t deal with you, and we went in on our own, you  couldn’t do anything to us, but he’s sue us, you understand? You couldn’t stop us if you had no patent.

(Mr. Kubert’s statement was indistinguishable at this point.)

KUBERT:  Now, perhaps you can tell me, what can he do to us now? Can he still sue us?

FELDSTEIN:  Can he still sue you?

KUBERT:  Can we still have him produce these books, the first books?

FELDSTEIN:  He can sue you for everything you’ve taken. In the first place, he can sue you for everything that you put out… for everything you have done. You know it’s very funny, Joe, we went up to him and he asked us what our names were, who we were, and after we got through with the preliminary discussion, he says, “If you come out before October 13th, I’ll sue you, too.”

GAINES:  Scared the s**t out of us.

FELDSTEIN:  Because you see, as soon s he has his finger on a guy who has been fooling around with the patent, the guy’s out of luck. Think of the proof he has of guys fooling around. I understand D.C. is coming out with a book. Do you know anything about it?

KUBERT:  Yes, I do.

FELDSTEIN:  What process are they using?

KUBERT: Very similar to ours. I understand Timely is coming out with a book, too, and Avon is coming out with a book.

FELDSTEIN:  They’re all using the shift system?


FELDSTEIN:  Owens is going to sue every one of them.

KUBERT:  So is Disney.

FELDSTEIN:  Disney is using the shift system?

KUBERT:  That’s right.

FELDSTEIN:  But it’s based on that patent.

KUBERT:  Exactly.

FELDSTEIN:  Now there comes a little thing. That patent is for obtaining film strip. That patent is for obtaining a film strip…and Owens ay question the validity of that patent on the ground that they used the shift.

GAINES:  Yes. I don’t know how the patent was ever granted. There are seven claims. Every one starts with …

(Mr. Kubert then whistled.)

GAINES:  “A method for producing stereoscopic motion picture strip film.”

FELDSTEIN:  All right. When Mr. Dellacourt…

GAINES:  Listen to this one.

FELDSTEIN:  Now wait a minute…

GAINES:  No, let me just read Claim 8.

FELDSTEIN:  That’s the claim in Owens’ patent that covers everything.

GAINES:  “The process of producing pictures with stereoscopic effect which comprises separating a flat picture into a plurality of sections representing portions of the picture of seemingly like distance from the point of view, making copies of the foreground sections, each upon a separate sheet, superimposing said sheets and background in register for simulating the appearance of the original view as seen by one eye and copying the same, making a second copy of the same after shifting said superimposed…superimposed sheets laterally with reference to the background to simulate the appearance of the original view as seen by the other eye and reproducing said copies for visual observation…”

FELDSTEIN:  That covers it.

(At this point there were three people talking at one time making the voices indistinguishable.)

FELDSTEIN:  Now, when Mr. Dellacourt takes a picture from a film strip and puts it into a book, he goes right back into Owens’ patent.

KUBERT:  Tell me this, though: What was the sense of you buying this patent?

FELDSTEIN:  So we can go ahead for the next three months clean. Do you realize everybody that has put their finger on his patent is now sueable?

GAINES:  Everybody that’s thought about it.

FELDSTEIN:  D.C. is going to be sued if they come out. In fact, they could be sued anyway whether they come out or not, just for what they’ve done.

GAINES:  We went up to Owens and we offered him $100 for the patent. He said, “Bububububaa!,” and I said, “Well, look. We go ahead and produce the book and the day after your patent expires, we hit the stands.” And he says, “Oh, no, you can’t.” He’s a funny little fellow. He says, “Anybody who almost thinks about this patent before it expires, no matter when he comes out, he violated…he infringed.” So I checked with my patent attorney, and he’s right.

FELDSTEIN:  The man has…

KUBERT:  S**t.

FELDSTEIN:  The man has 200 patents.

(Mr. Kubert then started whistling.)

FELDSTEIN:  Watch your language, Joe. That man has 200 patents. He has fooled around for a long, long time with patents. He’s been in and out of patent searches and patent infringement suits.

GAINES:  He spent everything he ever had getting patents.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, 200 patents would mean about $60,000. You multiply 200 by 300, that’s cheap. $300 a patent is cheap. That’s $60,000 he sunk into patents. Any man who has sunk that kind of money into patents, he’s going to get every dime he can out of one of them or all of them. So we had to buy the patent. We didn’t exactly buy the patent. We bought the exclusive assignment.

KUBERT:  So he let it go for three bills, huh?

FELDSTEIN:  That’s right. We would have paid a thousand.

KUBERT:  Do you know how much St. John would have paid for it?

FELDSTEIN:  He’s going to now. Why wasn’t it found so St. John could buy it? Because then, there would be no such thing as American Stereograph (sic) Corporation.

KUBERT:  That’s true.

FELDSTEIN:  What do you think, Joe?

KUBERT:  I don’t know.

FELDSTEIN:  So when Lenny comes up to us--and believe me when I say this...when Lenny came up to us last time, it was on a Monday, two weeks ago, we had this patent in our possession.

KUBERT:  You had this?

FELDSTEIN:  Yes. And when he threatened to sue us on a civil suit because we stole his idea, when all we did was take our process and make a search, and find this patent, and buy it…

(At this point Mr. Kubert whistled.)

GAINES:  Now I feel very sorry for the innocent parties involved, and I think there is a lot of them. I think poor St. John is going to have a stroke.

FELDSTEIN:  Now, wait a while, wait a while. There are several different ramifications of this. We assume there are innocent parties involved.

KUBERT:  I’ll tell you frankly: I go on the assumption that Leonard is innocent…Norman definitely.

FELDSTEIN:  So who’s guilty?

KUBERT:  Not St. John. If anybody knew about it, there is only one man who could have known about it, and that’s Posnack himself. As I said before, up to date, this guy has made over $6,500 from us.

FELDSTEIN:  But you say Asher Blum did not find this patent. Wait a while. Let me ask you another question.

KUBERT:  He might not have made a search. I think that all he did was use the opinion that…

FELDSTEIN:  An opinion on what?

KUBERT:  On that patent. On the worthiness of the patent.

FELDSTEIN:  Based on Posnack’s search?

KUBERT:  On Posnack’s…not search…or maybe it was based on his search, too…but it was based on his patent application…on Posnack’s application.

FELDSTEIN:  O.K., you only go an opinion of a patent application.

KUBERT:  That may have been it. I was under the impression that it was a search, too.

GAINES:  Oh, from Blum? I don’t think Blum made a search. It would be pointless.

FELDSTEIN:  All right. Now, let’s go on…the only other possibility is that there was something screwed up in Washington, which we ran across…


FELDSTEIN:  …which is possibly that all patent searchers run across. And that was that this patent did not turn up in Class 88.

GAINES:  In other words, one…

FELDSTEIN:  But it’s in the New York Public Library.

GAINES:  Now, Lenny knows things are in the New York Public Library.

KUBERT:  That may be where he turned up this information anyhow. As I said, he did mention during the week that he had some information. Maybe that’s where he got it.

FELDSTEIN:  You mean…well, of course when you got the letter…When American Stereo (sic) got Owens’ letter, he probably ran right to the library to read the patent. .I’m just interested to know whether this is the first time he’s ever seen this patent.

KUBERT:  The first time I’ve ever seen this patent?

FELDSTEIN:  No…Lenny. This is the first time you’ve seen it. I can tell. But Lenny…

KUBERT:  I don’t know. I don’t know.

FELDSTEIN:  I hope he’s also innocent, but of course, this isn’t going to save anybody as far as Mr. Owens is concerned.

(There were a number of pauses at this point and indistinguishable conversation.)

FELDSTEIN:  Of course, what’s been done on the other three books? They’re not being engraved yet, are they?

KUBERT:  Yes, I think they are.

FELDSTEIN:  They’re being engraved? Do you think if St. John knew about this, he’d run other books? Well, he couldn’t anyway, unless he’d want to take a chance of a court suit. But his is what it’s going to get. It’s going to get awfully messy. I mean, we’re not involved in this at all. Mr. Owens is the one who is involved. He’d probably use Scheiman, huh?

GAINES:  Yes, Owens would use him

FELDSTEIN:  He’ll probably use Scheiman, because Scheiman drew up our contracts, and he met Scheiman, and he has his own patent attorney, and between a patent attorney and a court suit, he’ll probably use Scheiman. You see, he was very shrewd about it. He knew about Lenny…

KUBERT:  Please don’t ask me to keep this stuff to myself, because I’ll have to tell Norman.


FELDSTEIN:  No. We didn’t ask you up here to tell you any secrets. We felt that we wanted to tell you first.

KUBERT:  I appreciate that very much.

GAINES:  I wanted also to tell you our speculations. I mean theoretically you should have known all along about these letters. Now, heck, the letters went out two weeks ago. St. John got a letter, American Stereo (sic) got a letter.

FELDTEIN:  Well, Joe said he knew something about…

KUBERT:  I had heard…

FELDSTEIN:  You should have read this patent last week.

KUBERT:  I haven’t seen…look, that’s the first time I’ve seen…

FELDSTEIN:  Well, the number was in your office last week.

KUBERT:  What number?

FELDSTEIN:  The number of that patent.

KUBERT:  Was in?

FELDSTEIN:  Was in your office last week because Mr. Owens sent you a letter, saying you are infringing upon Patent 2053057...whatever it happens to be.

GAINES:  I happen to have a copy of the letter here that Scheiman sent…

KUBERT:  Well, tell me this: Did that letter start suit, or did it just say to stop and desist?

FELDSTEIN:  Yes. Yes, the first letter said cease and desist, you are infringing on my patent.


FELDSTEIN:  And Lenny wrote back…I don’t know whether he wrote back with Posnack’s approval…I’m sure he did…”What patents?” So he sent back a letter, “This patent.” Owens sent back a letter, “This patent.” So Lenny sent back a letter, “We’ve got to find out what it looks like. We’ll send to Washington.” But let’s face it, Joe. In a half an hour he could have read that patent. In a half an hour you should have read the patent…and Norman and St. John and everybody.

GAINES:  Here was Lenny’s answer of July 17th. Today for the record is the 3rd of August. Here is the carbon of Owens’ letter of reply.

FELDSTEIN:  On July 24th , this was sent…you probably got it on the 25th.

GAINES:  What we’re getting at is that if you don’t know these, Joe, that means somebody is keeping something from you which is what I suspected right along.

KUBERT:  You know, Norman and I have been working like…

GAINES:  Yes, you guys have been uptown in the office. You don’t know what’s going on.

FELDSTEIN:  Why did you move? Did you move of your own free accord?

KUBERT:  Yes, because I couldn’t get the stuff done there.

(At this point Mr. Kubert whistled.)

GAINES:  I know it’s quite a shock, Joe, and I…

FELDSTEIN:  I mean, for example, we’re in production now, and we go to order glasses, and we find out we gotta wait for fifteen million glasses to be made for St. John before we can get ours.

KUBERT:  Then you know how much Mr. St. John…

FELDSTEIN:  Yes. We know all about it. The point is this: Is he doing this on the face of this, or has the wave not rolled downtown yet to Freedman?

KUBERT:  I don’t know. Perhaps, the wave hasn’t. I don’t know, I don’t know.

GAINES:  Well, here’s what…

KUBERT:  But I’m sure as hell going to find out.

GAINES:  Here’s what Lenny told us when he was up about, I think, two or three weeks ago Monday. I think it was three weeks ago. He said something to this effect. He says, “A lot of money has been sunk into this thing and we’re going to send out a letter in a few days putting ourselves very clearly"…a tough letter, "so forth and so on.” We got the tough letter…it was one sentence! And he says, “We’re going to prosecute any infringers,” …and so on and so on. He said, “I’ll tell you this,” he said, “I don’t know, I don’t care what process anybody comes out with. To protect ourselves, we’re going to sue.”
He says, “Posnack has a process! …papers all drawn up against every single publisher…”

KUBERT:  He did have papers drawn up. He had one paper, I know. I don’t know whether it had any name…no, it didn’t have any name on it at all…but a paper of infringement. Drawn up in case…

FELDSTEIN:  Infringement against what, Joe?

KUBERT:  Against the first fellow who comes out with a patent that’s similar to ours.

FELDSTEIN:  A process?

KUBERT:  A process.

FELDSTEIN:  What is he going to sue on? What grounds?

KUBERT:  Based on the fact that we were going to get a patent. I have seen that paper.

FELDSTEIN:  Oh, you mean…but he couldn’t do anything now?

KUBERT:  Oh, not until the patent is passed upon. As a matter of fact, it was about a month ago, and I asked…

FELDSTEIN:  Now, that’s strange.

KUBERT:  And he was going to go ahead and do that. He showed us letters and everything else.

FELDSTEIN:  Of course, the funniest thing about this is you might get a patent. Who knows what goes on in Washington?

KUBERT:  That’s the craziest f*****g thing I’ve ever heard.

FELDSTEIN:  But Owens will contest it. He probably will contest…

KUBERT:  Well, the first thing that St. John will…

FELDSTEIN:  Now, wait a while. You said something about Disney used the shift. He used this patent?

KUBERT:  Yes, yes. He had a whole write-up…was it, some sort of a camera magazine where the whole process was explained.

FELDSTEIN:  Did it say it was patented?

KUBERT:  I don’t know. I didn’t read the article.

FELDSTEIN:  You don’t know what kind of a magazine it was?

KUBERT:  No, I don’t remember. I think it was “American Camera”.

FELDSTEIN:  Mr. Owens will probably be very interested in it. I don’t know where he’s going to get all the money to sue all these guys, but he’ll go after them.

GAINES:  The Disney thing, look…

KUBERT:  What St. John will probably do, the first thing, is try to get a hold of this guy Owens and try to settle with him. He can’t…he couldn’t afford to take a suit at this point. He’s too far over his head.

FELDSTEIN:  That’s a very strange thing. But we don’t know whether Mr. Owens can settle. Can he, Bill? Bill has an exclusive ownership assignment. Mr. Owens would have to settle for what’s been out on sale prior…

GAINES:  He can settle or sue on “Mighty Mouse”. As far as St. John is concerned…

FELDSTEIN:  Wait a while. Everything else, too.

GAINES:  Here, the only way that St. John could come out with the other three books, as I see it…

FELDSTEIN:  Is for him to first settle with Owens, and then get a license from Bill.

GAINES:  …is to get a license from me…which I ain’t going to give probably…because I want to get out first at least with my two books…and also he’d have to get Owens’ permission not to sue him, even if I did license him, because although I licensed him, I am only able to license as of…what was it, July 17th?

KUBERT:  As you say, this lasts only about ten weeks, twelve weeks, doesn’t it?

FELDSTEIN:  Yes, but…Joe, you better not use any of that artwork you have been working on. You’d have to start all over, clean, because it would be touchy. Of course you could try and slip something in. As of October 14th, you’d have to start clean, and I don’t know whether you could, because you guys fooled around. You’re infringers already. I don’t know if you will ever be able to play around with this patent, and that’s why we didn’t want to fool around with you, because we didn’t want to get ourselves involved; when you asked us not to…admit that we never knew the process…He doesn’t look shocked. I don’t know what’s the matter with him.

GAINES:  Maybe he’s numb.

KUBERT:  It’s quite a thing. This, I never figured on…never.

FELDSTEIN:  We didn’t either, Joe. But you see, there was no reason…for example, we understand that in the Second District Court, the Federal Court, when an application for a patent is made, you cease to retain a fair…a trade secret.

GAINES:  That’s besides the point.

FELDSTEIN:  That is the point, William, as far as I see, so why all the shenanigans? You guys were protected. Nobody is going to get if for application before you, whether you made it in February or March or April. Here, we are dealing with you in the beginning of July. Why all the shenanigans? What is this business with disclosures and everything? The only  reason that we could feel was that there was no actual thought about a patent, that this was possibly a trade secret…

GAINES:  Well, they had to have put in for a patent because, although that wasn’t in the contract either, that’s the first thing my lawyer spotted. He says, “They expect you to put in your book, “Patent Applied For”, and they don’t even have it in the contract that there is a patent applied for.” He says, “Supposing there is no patent applied for, you’ll get shafted.”

*GAINES:  It’s illegal.

KUBERT:  That’s right. I remember he made mention of that.

GAINES:  So they agreed to put in an thing saying, “Patent Applied For”. So I assumed there was a patent applied for. Well, in any event, whether there was fraud involved or whether there wasn’t fraud involved, I don’t know. It really doesn’t make too much difference to me.

KUBERT:  Not now, anyhow.

GAINES:  It may to you. I mean…you know…

FELDSTEIN:  I hope Lenny wasn’t in on this thing, too.

KUBERT:  I’m pretty sure. It may have been just a matter of circumstance…

FELDSTEIN:  When we made all these conjectures, I lifted myself from being Lenny’s friend, and looked at it from a purely business point of view.


FELDSTEIN:  And when I went down to read this patent in the library and I thumbed this way and found a patent…I’ve got it here somewhere…a patent on some kind of a bobbin or some kind of control on a knitting machine which was expiring at the same time s this Owens’ patent, so Lenny might have said…might have been looking for things that expire, so they can improve their machinery. Isn’t it possible?

KUBERT:  It’s possible.

GAINES:  Well, what started this whole thing was, when we were down there on that first Friday, and told you we knew a process, and told you our process, and Lenny says, “Well, you got to sign a paper anyway that you didn’t know the process.”

KUBERT:  Well, let’s look at it…

GAINES:  That’s when I first got suspicious.

KUBERT:  We had an attorney. The guy told us what to do. Comes from patents and contracts and stuff like that.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, if you were in…

KUBERT:  We know very, very little…

FELDSTEIN:  If you were in my place…

GAINES:  I know what the trouble was.

FELDSTEIN:  If you were in our position, would you have signed that kind of thing? Here you know a process. I have patents pending on a process. You look at my sample. You say, “I can do it”. And I say, “Well, you got to sign that you can’t.”

KUBERT:  Well, I guess then it would be all according to how badly you wanted to come out with the damn thing.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, we wanted to come out badly.

KUBERT:  If you wanted to sacrifice the fact that you had come out with it first…you had the thing first…and you wanted to admit that you didn’t know it at all…from coming out with that book…as soon as you wanted to…at that particular time. It’s purely up to the individual. I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t know what I would have done under those circumstances.

FELDSTEIN:  Joe, there was no reason for us to say that. Unless there was a fear of some kind of trying to invalidate patents or something. Do you understand? If it was a straight patent deal, and we would come in and say, “Although we know how you do your patent, you’ve got your application in”…there is no reason for you to make me say I don’t.

KUBERT:  I can’t believe Posnack would know any of this, too, because that guy ahs been so excited himself about starting a whole new field of comic books and commercial advertising, etc., etc., and I don’t think he would have gotten so enthused about something that apparently has already been done, that apparently has already been patented. I don’t think he’d take the chance with his whole career that way…

*KUBERT:  Quite a business.

FELDSTEIN:  How is the family?

KUBERT:  Fine. You know I had a boy this summer.

FELDSTEIN:  I know. You know, I expecting my third any day now.

KUBERT: Really?


KUBERT:  This is old hat to you.

FELDSTEIN:  When was yours born?

KUBERT:  The 27th of last month…

(At this point the conversation was inaudible.)

KUBERT:  Well, if anyone is going to get hit with this thing, it’s actually St. John. He’s going to get hit harder than anybody else…

(At this point the tape ended abruptly. This transcript was continued after the tape had been reversed and its play continued.)

FELDSTEIN:  …made his own personal patent search?

KUBERT:  Yah. So far as I know, that’s what he told me.

FELDSTEIN:  He had his own patent search?

KUBERT:  Perhaps they investigated in Washington and didn’t find hide nor hair, just as you didn’t, on that patent up there.

FELDSTEIN:  That’s very weird. Why should a patent disappear like that?

KUBERT:  I have no idea.

FELDSTEIN:  This patent of all patents.

KUBERT:  That’s right. I have no idea.

FELDSTEIN:  Of course, I don’t know how many patents are missing, but…

KUBERT:  It’s a very strange thing.

FELDSTEIN:  It really is.

KUBERT:  It really is.

FELDSTEIN:  How about some lunch, Joe?

KUBERT:  No, no, thanks. I lost my appetite.

FELDSTEIN:  Come on, grab a sandwich, Joe.

KUBERT:  No, I couldn’t. I had a late breakfast.

FELDSTEIN:  You know, I felt all along that you weren’t aware of this. You know, it was very funny. I don’t know. Posnack probably never even thought anything about it. But I called up Posnack, when we were in the middle of this phoney contract and these things were bouncing on our heads. You know, fact after fact coming through. I called him up and I said, “Mr. Posnack, are you patent attorney for the Supreme Knitting Mills?” And he said, “Yes.” And I said, “Thank you.” And I hung up. It was just another thing that made me suspicious…if you have a suspicious nature, and I’m probably a suspicious type guy. So I asked him and he said, “yes”, he was a patent attorney for Supreme Knitting Mills, and all of a sudden things started to fit in; Lenny was dealing with Posnack.

KUBERT:  Well, that’s how he came to Posnack in the first place.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, he had been dealing with Posnack before. He had been dealing with Posnack at Supreme.

KUBERT:  We had had no patent attorney or any experience with a patent attorney and Len was the only guy that did. It was perfectly natural and normal that we should go to him.

FELDSTEIN:  I assume you’re going to talk to Posnack now?

KUBERT:  Definitely.

FELDSTEIN:  Jesus, I’d love to hear you…hear it.

KUBERT:  We’re going to get the whole set together. Well, I’m pretty sure that St. John will institute some sort of suit of negligence against Posnack for all this.

FELDSTEIN:  That’s never going to cover the cost of what St. John is probably going to be sued for. What did he print now, a million?


FELDSTEIN:  He’s got a million…he’s already put on the stands a million “Mighty Mouse”?

KUBERT:  So far as I know.

FELDSTEIN:  And he’s planning more?

KUBERT:  Oh, yes. He had planned…

FELDSTEIN:  They’d be coming off the press…I know he printed 500,000.

KUBERT:  Yes, he had contracted for a million…that’s five hundred…he contracted for an amount of paper to print a million books…he had contracted with the printing company to have…

FELDSTEIN:  Who engraved your plates, by the way?

KUBERT:  Well, you  know, we told you Haynes.

FELDSTEIN:  Haynes did the plates, too?

KUBERT:  They did the whole package.

FELDSTEIN:  The did the whole package. They’re awfully expensive you know.


GAINES:  We priced…

FELDSTEIN:  Well, it was an expensive job.

KUBERT:  It was an expensive job, expensive job…

FELDSTEIN:  It was a beautiful job. You know Post is going crazy trying to match those inks. So go ahead…

KUBERT:  Ah…what was I saying now? Gee, my thoughts are going in fifty different directions at the same time.

FELDSTEIN:  Yeah…but we were talking about the print order of St. John.

KUBERT:  Oh, yes. The first run was to be 500,000 and after that, if it showed some sort of a sale return, he was going to run a second 500,000. I believe he had already called for it…if it hasn’t been printed already.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, in which case, it’s only 500,000 print order.

KUBERT:  I don’t know. I’m not sure.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, you see, it was Mr. Owens’ moral and legal duty to let you know as soon as he knew…I mean…so he couldn’t suck you in…or anything like that.

KUBERT:  But actually that guys that made him known of the fact that all these things were gong on, were you.

FELDSTEIN:  No, let me explain that to you. He was the craftiest son-of-a-bitch.

GAINES:  He thought we were from you.

FELDSTEIN:  He thought, he had a feeling we might be from “Mighty Mouse”. You see, and that’s all right. We thought he had already sold the process to you.

GAINES:  I tell you, it was only…

FELDSTEIN:  The reason why we’re telling you know is this reason.

GAINES:  It was only a few days ago, Thursday or Friday, which is why I called you Friday, that we had the papers registered in Washington of the transfer.

KUBERT:  I see.

GAINES:  Up until that time, we were sitting on pins and needles wondering whether it would come back, and it turns out that maybe Mr. Owens sold these, this patent, to several different people. I don’t know.

(At this point Mr. Gaines laughed.)

GAINES:  But he knew about “Mighty Mouse”.

FELDSTEIN:  You see, when we went over to see him…

GAINES:  And he wasn’t sure who we were…

FELDSTEIN:  …he had the “Mighty Mouse” book…

KUBERT:  What was his contention? He says he’s definitely going ahead and bringing suit?

FELDSTEIN:  Oh, yes.

GAINES:  Oh, yes.

FELDSTEIN:  Listen. When we had the…when we went to see him, he had a “Mighty Mouse” book, and we told him we were comic publishers and we were interested in putting out comics in three dimensions, and he said, “You mean like this one?”, and we said, “Well, we’re interested in putting out our process, and we’ve made a search, and we found your process, so we’d like to buy it from you.” So the upshot was, he said, “All right, I’ll sell you my process, but I want to retain the rights to sue these infringers and anybody else who infringes up to…

KUBERT: Up to the time this process lapses.

GAINES:  Up to two or three months after this process lapses.

FELDSTEIN:  He’ll sue up to December 15th. If anybody hits December 15th…


GAINES:  Because no one can possibly hit the stands…

KUBERT:  Unless, unless he’s been prepared.

GAINES:  Without starting to prepare in advance of…

FELDSTEIN:  Now, I understand Toby is in something…




FELDSTEIN:  …And all the rest of those guys. If you want to keep that a secret, you ought to tell St. John not to tell anybody. Let them all suffer, I mean why should he suffer alone? But he can’t…Mr. Owens can’t let them know until he finds proof, and the proof would be the book. You can’t send a letter that you’re going to infringe on a rumor. That’s why we didn’t want to have Lenny and Norm come up. Just in case, we just wanted to see your reaction. If you want to bring Normy in now, it’s perfectly all right. But, if fact, I’d like to see Normy’s reaction, too.

GAINES:  Well, all through this thing, I sort of felt that Joe and Normy were in the clear, but Normy being…you know…

FELDSTEIN:  One thing, I don’t understand…if there were anything going on, it would be so easy, so much easier for you, for American Stereographic, to have gone to Owens, unless…

(At this point three people were talking at the same time.)

KUBERT:  If anybody had even come up with an idea similar to it afterwards, that could add to it, we would try to work some sort of a deal where he could become part of us or we part of him.

FELDSTEIN:  So…we’re going ahead with it in any  event.

KUBERT:  Well, naturally…

FELDSTEIN:  In fact, we pulled our first proof yesterday; Post, we pulled our proof at Post. They died.

(At this point Mr. Kubert laughed.)

FELDSTEIN:  Why? Because they were infringing on the system.

KUBERT:  That’s right.

FELDSTEIN:  They were afraid they were infringing on you system. Now, they find they’re actually infringing on a patented system. You could do nothing to them until you got your patent.

KUBERT:  That’s right.

FELDSTEIN:  And you could do nothing retroactively. They’d have to stop immediately and then get permission from you. Now, they’re infringing.

KUBERT:  Very ironic, very, very ironic.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, I don’t see any irony in it.

KUBERT:  Well, I’m sitting now in the position where you fellows were several months ago when you came up to see us.

FELDSTEIN:  Yah, now you know our process.

(At this point there was general laughter and there was a long pause.)

KUBERT:  Well, I better get back and tell the boys the good news.

FELDSTEIN:  Well, look, if you want to come over later on with the rest of them, I mean, and talk about it any more…

KUBERT:  Something, something should be done about it. I don’t know. Actually, I don’t think…I don’t think it right that St. John suffer by this. The poor f****r went into the whole thing in good faith.

FELDSTEIN:  By the way, what is your agreement with him? Are you responsible, or is he responsible? Do you remember these things? In other words, did he sign a contract like you wanted us to sign?

KUBERT:  Yes…oh, yes, he signed that contract.

GAINES:  He signed the contract…

FELDSTEIN:  Posnack is pretty clean.

GAINES:  You won’t get sued. St. John will.

KUBERT:  Well, I know. That’s…

FELDSTEIN:  They will, too.

KUBERT:  Even if we did get sued, actually, there isn’t enough money in the jackpot to even hurt. The whole corporation…

GAINES:  Well, that was the first thing I said. Remember when I said, “Suppose so and so and such and such…”

KUBERT:  Oh, we would have, I know. St. John said it himself.

FELDSTEIN:  Gees, I just feel very badly in case it goes to personal people.

KUBERT:  What do you mean?

FELDSTEIN:  I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know what this character is going to do…Owens. So he sues American Stereo (sic) and American Stereographic has no money, so he sues Lenny Maurer and Joe Kubert and Norman Maurer and Posnack.

KUBERT:  Well, if it does work out that way, that’s the way it will be. I mean, there is…

FELDSTEIN:  We’ll try and talk him out of it.

KUBERT:  Ah, s**t.

(At this point there is general laughter.)

FELDSTEIN:  no, he’s very friendly to us. You see, we came to him above-board, and explained things…and although he was very crafty and nasty in the beginning, you know, when we said we were coming out with something, he said, “All right, so don’t try it now, buddy.” You know, until…

(At this point there was general laughter.)

GAINES:  We had made some little experiments…

FELDSTEIN:  We had made some experiments. I drew the cells up, the same cells I showed Bill before he went up to sign the disclosure. We took pictures of it, we shifted, we took more pictures. We did it with a Polaroid camera, and we viewed it…you don’t have to show him, Bill. It’s all right…and we showed him the pictures…stupid asses that we were.

GAINES:  As soon as we showed him the pictures, he had us.

(At this point there was more general laughter.)

FELDSTEIN:  You want to show him what Owens did 36 years ago? Well, you see, the drawings he made. He used…and you know that’s the strangest thing. He used comic strip. He definitely had this in mind. It’s very funny how…

GAINES:  Couldn’t sell it then.

FELDSTEIN:  You see, this business with the contract is what pushed us into this thing.

GAINES:  Do you remember…I’ll tell you something funny now. Do you remember the day I called up and said, “Send Bill Elder back and stop all work”?


GAINES:  We didn’t know from nothing that day. That was a last ditch attack.

FELDSTEIN:  We were trying to get a cheaper price from you.

GAINES:  To bluff you into better terms.

FELDSTEIN:  We were going ahead with you.

GAINES:  And we had decided…that was on a Thursday.

FELDSTEIN:  It was a Thursday.

GAINES:  And we decided that by Monday, because Scheiman was going to be out of town…Otherwise we would have had it done Friday…Monday we were going down and sign the contract.

(At this point there was general laughter.)

FELDSTEIN:  Scheiman says to us, “All right”…

GAINES:  The next day we found the Owens’ patent.

FELDSTEIN:  “…see if you can get it a little cheaper.”

GAINES:  We found the Owens’ patent on a Friday, and we dug him up on the following Wednesday.

FELDSTEIN:  No, we dug him up on the following Monday.

GAINES:  We dug him up Monday, but we signed the papers…

FELDSTEIN:  We signed them on Wednesday…

KUBERT:  Well, boys…

FELDSTEIN:  We were actually saving our neck, too.

KUBERT:  Oh, sure…boys, thank you very much for the information. And, well…

(At this point there were three people talking at the same time.)

KUBERT:  No matter what happens, I won’t run.

GAINES:  You don’t have to run. But I mean…

KUBERT:  In case any suit is instituted or anything like that, I certainly won’t put on my coat and walk away.

GAINES:  Yah, if there was anything dirty going on, just make goddamn sure that it gets on the record somehow, that you were not involved in this. That’s all. If there was, and if there wasn’t, there wasn’t…We’ve kept this a big secret as we say until those things were registered and we were sure we had them. I wasn’t sure that we weren’t being conned or something. Now, I suppose I’ll…it’s no secret now, I’m willing to let the cat out of the bag with anybody because…

KUBERT:  Well, you can certainly blow it from the rooftops now, Bill.

GAINES:  I don’t want to blow it. I just want to keep everybody off the stands.

FELDSTEIN:  You see, Bill is in a funny position. Mr. Owens would like to see lots of people come out.

GAINES:  You see, if somebody comes out with a book…

(At this point the voices were inaudible.)

GAINES:  He can, but I can’t. So it’s to my advantage to call up everybody and say, “Don’t do it, fellows”. “Don’t do it, so I can get out”.

FELDSTEIN:  And then, on the other hand, Mr. Owens doesn’t give a damn. He would rather them come out. What did he get? A measly 300 bucks out of Bill.

KUBERT:  He may very well…ah…St. John may very well go ahead and continue along the same plans that he has, and decide to fight it in court. Because I think he sunk too much into this at this point to stop. He may…he may  go ahead and continue as he is…

FELDSTEIN:  I would assume that he would do that just…just…I mean from a safest point of view.

KUBERT:  That’s right…I’m pretty sure…

FELDSTEIN:  I wouldn’t be surprised if Owens would settle on “Mighty Mouse”, and…

KUBERT:  I am almost positive that he will not stop production dead as it is right now and leave every…

FELDSTEIN:  I just hope he stops…for a while, as we can get our glasses.

(At this point there was general laughter.)

KUBERT:  He is on production on approximately eight books…all 3-D.

FELDSTEIN:  There is no question about it, it’s a very hot item. Why would we come running up to you? I mean Bill and I are no schnooks.

KUBERT:  As I say, the thing is settled down now. The dust is pretty much cleared away…well, thanks a lot for calling me over.

GAINES:  O.K., Joe.

KUBERT:  I should thank you for your confidence and everything. Believe me, thanks a lot.

GAINES:  Give us a call if you find out anything new that you care to tell us.

KUBERT:  I’ll do that, and if there is anything that you can aid me with…by for instance, contacting this guy Owens…Incidentally, do you have his address, so we can contact him?

FELDSTEIN:  You got three letters. American Stereographic sent you the letters…

KUBERT:  He’s at that address?

FELDSTEIN:  …His home.

KUBERT: He is home.


GAINES:  His home…

FELDSTEIN:  That 116th Street address is his home.

GAINES:  If you want to contact him today, he’d be there by the time you’d want to contact him, probably. He comes into his office about an hour a day.

KUBERT:  He doesn’t have a phone on his…

FELDSTEIN:  No, he doesn’t. It’s a…

GAINES:  Boarding house.

FELDSTEIN:  Boarding house.

KUBERT:  O.K. Thanks a lot, fellows.

GAINES:  O.K., Joe. See you.

FELDSTEIN:  Take it easy.

KUBERT:  Right.

(At this point the door slammed.)

GAINES:  Nance, you want to hear it? Well, wait five minutes and come up.

(At this point there were general whispers.)
*  Probably not this speaker. The transcript made several such erroneous credits and the asterisk is used to indicate these.


  1. This is big. You know the next thing you come up with is going to have to be a vieo tape of Stan Lee and Jack Kriby discussing the creation of Spiderman which turns out to have been an original idea by Al Burgos! I assume you know Kubert and Maurer showed their side of this in satirical story in Whack? I'll pull it out and have a look, but from what I remember you should reprint it completely with yur next post. Which I can't wait to see.

  2. Thanks, Ger!

    I do indeed know about the story in WHACK #2 and it will be making an appearance in my next post. Which, by the way, will tie together all that has been discussed in these first two posts.

    Stay tuned!

  3. Wonderful read Ken.
    There are a few typos still in there though.

    Great detective job as always!


  4. Thank you, Yoc!

    Try as I might, a few typos always slip in. I'll go over the text again and hopefully catch a few more.