Comic Book History: Introduction To Superman

The story of Superman's comic development, the authors, originators, artists involved. Discussion of historical impact of the movie and comics.

Out of all of the "births" that have happened in the world, the birth of Superman was one of the most difficult. For Superman was born through years of adversity and struggle.

It all began in the year of 1931, when two teens from Cleveland, Ohio, met. Their names were Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster. They were both working on their high school newspaper together. They soon discovered that they both shared the love of the world of science fiction.

The two boys decided to put their creative talents together and they created "The Interplanetary Police." Shuster was the artist while Siegel wrote the story lines. With high hopes, they sent their completed comic strip to the United Feature Syndicate, but it was turned down.



Their next attempt was a character by the name of "Steve Walsh." Walsh was described as a "scientific adventurer." This comic strip also was turned down by the publishers.

Siegel and Shuster tried yet a third time in 1932 with the publishing of their newsletter. It was called "Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization." The third issue of their newsletter featured a story titled, " The Reign of the Superman." The story was written by Herbert S. Fine. Fine was the pen name that Siegel used. And, as always, Shuster drew the pictures that went along with the storyline. In this version of Superman, instead of being a hero, Superman used his super powers to destroy and to destruct. The newsletter soon went belly up when its few subscribers lost interest in the publication.

The next year brought the advent of a new magazine on the market, which was a comic strip which featured Detective Dan. Both Siegel and Shuster were amazed by it. After studying the magazine, they decided to change Superman into a hero who did only good work. Superman was drawn as an ordinary looking man who had hidden super powers. This idea was also rejected by different publishers.

Time had passed, and now the two young friends graduated from high school and began looking for employment. Because the Great Depression was happening, they both had difficulty finding anything except odd jobs here and there.

In 1934, Jerome Siegel came up with yet a newer version of Superman. This time, though, he had a superman's outfit which consisted of a cape, boots, and a big letter "S" on his chest. This superhero's story began on the planet of Krypton which was soon going to blow up. His father had built a spaceship and sent his son, named Kal-el to the planet Earth where he would be safe. The Kents found and adopted the baby and they soon discovered that he had supernatural powers. Superman used his powers to help humans in distress. This idea was rejected by publishers, too.

Meanwhile, the boys' break would come when a retired Army Major named Malcolm Wheeler decided to publish his own comic magazine in 1935. Siegel and Shuster sent him two comics, Henri Duval and Dr. Occult, and they were published later that year. Siegel and Shuster finally became published. They sent Wheeler their Superman idea, but he too rejected it.

Finally, in the late 1930's, Superman was published in the Action Comics series and the "Man of Steel" was finally born. A radio program and movies featuring Superman would soon follow. Actor George Reeves played Superman many times in his career.

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