Most superhero comic readers and fans immediately recognize the names of Jerry (Jerome) Siegel and Joe (Joseph) Shuster. Namely, the creative talents who wrote and drew respectively the exciting adventures of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent aka Superman from the planet Krypton. A champion of truth, justice, and the American way, Superman has fought greed and evil in comics, cartoons, tv shows, video games and movies for years. Jerry Siegel came up with the Superman character and wrote the stories and Joe Shuster illustrated them. These two high school friends didn’t know that Superman would help them achieve justice years later.
If we could time travel back to April 18, 1938, we could pick up a copy, for only 10 cents (wow! much better than 3.2 million like a pristine original sold on eBay), of the very first Superman story ever published. 😎 This well-loved character debuted in Action Comics, which was from National Allied Publishing and that became Detective Comics. The Superman comic in that issue was 13 pages long amongst other stories from different authors and characters in the 68 page comic. So today is the 80th anniversary of that comic. 😎 It soon became very obvious that Superman was what people wanted to read and made mucho money. Yet the two people who should have been getting the majority of the profits, namely the writer and artist who created the character before signing with the publisher, received only a small portion of that after getting convinced to sell the rights to Superman to said publisher…for $130 dollars. 😦
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (born in Toronto, Canada), two nice, Jewish boys growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, decided to create some comics. Jerry took care of the writing and Joe the drawing. They both loved adventure, detective, and science fiction stories. The character of Superman would take on the job of rescuing people and combating evil alongside his regular job as reporter under his name Clark Kent. Like all good red-blooded males, Jerry and Joe wanted to meet and impress girls so several of the details about Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane were inspired by that fact.
The upcoming graphic novel, from Super Genius, an imprint of Papercutz, The Artist Behind Superman: The Joe Shuster Story, written by Julian Voloj and illustrated by Thomas Campi covers some of the happy and sad times of the artist who first drew Superman/Clark Kent, Lois Lane, etc.. One of my favorite parts in the book is telling about how Joe would borrow his mom’s bread board to use as a drawing board then he’d give it back in time each week for her to bake challah for Shabbat (Sabbath). Those kind of cool, real things are important. 😎
With financial situations the way they were, Joe resourcefully re-used brown wrapping paper and back of wallpaper to draw on.
I also enjoyed reading about the excitement of creativity and wanting their work to be enjoyed by many. You can feel the thrill of them seeing their work, writing and drawing, in print at the newstand. 😎 That’s an author and illustrator’s dream, and especially for it to be so well-loved. 🙂
I really, really felt for them when they could smell the delicious aromas from Solomon’s Delicatessen, but were broke to get a corned beef sandwich. 😦
They had much tzuris (trouble), hardships, and that was all heartbreaking to read. 😦 Many sad times noted in the book including a number of tragedies. Danger, risk, and drama weren’t only in the pages of the comic book issues. Treachery and legal fights in regards to reclaiming rights to Superman – it’s a shanda (shame) how they were done at times. There were gangsters to deal with. Death threats from evil
nazis when Superman fought them in the comics. Way to go, Superman!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😎 You know you’re doing good when you make evil people angry. 😀
Jerry Siegel was drafted during World War II and on the 4th of July in 1943 at the Festival of Freedom he was the guest of honor. Comedian and actor, Bob Hope, was there, as well. 😎 Joe Shuster wasn’t drafted due to his eyesight.
I appreciate that historical facts were noted in the book and how they got to experience the exciting news of that Israel had won statehood and independence after the horrible atrocities of the Shoah (the Holocaust), and World War II.
Julian Voloj and Thomas Campi clearly put a lot of work into the book – it’s over 160 pages and includes reference details at the end of it. I appreciate that. 😎 You can see that much effort was given towards the research. I think the cover is pretty cool showing Joe Shuster drawing and make sure to check out the window. 😉
Several legal battles took place for the rights to Superman and Detective Comics took away Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s byline. That however had a happy ending because it was restored and it’s always noted that they created Superman. I really believe in giving credit where credit is due.
I loved reading about Stan Lee helping Jerry Siegel with a job at Marvel Comics after DC Comics dropped him.
The popularity of Superman helped gain some compensation and Superman had a part in getting justice for them. The legal fights continued with the heirs and relatives of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Five of my favorite quotes from The Joe Shuster Story ~
In a comic strip, two characters, Snoopy and Smiley, standing in front of Solomon’s Delicatessen:
“See what faith and stick-to-it-iveness can do! Just keep trying and never give up!”
Jerry Siegel talking with Joe Shuster:
“Our own comic book. My ideas and your drawings. We can do this.”
Joe Shuster’s dad after getting a job as an elevator operator at Mount Sinai Hospital:
“Every job has it’s ups and downs.”
Joe Shuster to his dad when Israel gained independence in 1948:
David defeated Goliath.
“We won, Father.”
Clearly, plenty of quotes I liked in the book. 😎 Also ones I didn’t, such as the quote from some bigoted jerk. It wasn’t necessary to repeat that, but I’m glad it was pointed out he was a creep. Still, I didn’t like coming across that. And there were a few unnecessary and inappropriate graphics.
It’s cool that Superman is timeless and I love that even though he didn’t have to use his powers to save the world, he chose to do the right thing out of compassion and wanting to help people. 😎 Instead of using his abilities for his own gain, he fights evil . We all have abilities that we can use to help others, too, and make the world a better place. Superman’s a good example of values such as rachmonis (compassion) and doing what he can. That is my favorite thing about Superman and I’m glad Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster chose to make that an essential part of his character. 😎 Happy 80th Anniversary, Clark! 🙂
Thank you to Arthur Field @ Papercutz for the arc, advance review copy. 🙂 The graphic novel in hardcover and paperback,The Joe Shuster Story, will be available 15th of May, 2018.
Title: The Artist Behind Superman: The Joe Shuster Story
Written by: Julian Voloj
Illustrated by: Thomas Campi
Release Date: 5/15/18
Available Formats: Paperback, Hardcover
Published by: Super Genius, an imprint of Papercutz
Distributed by: MacMillan
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