Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I am Superman

Who would have ever imagined that when two teenagers named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created a character by the name of Superman, seventy years ago, that he would become such a part of our cultural landscape? Superman is perhaps the most recognizable character not just in the United States but around the world as well.

This is evident by the number of shows, films, radio and television serials, comics, books and daily strips all based around The Man of Steel. Not to mention all the different kinds of merchandising, from clothing, jewelry and other apparel to backpacks, coffee mugs, toys, video games and even mouse pads. Apparently, he's even a close friend of Jerry Seinfeld.

Superman has been portrayed on TV by such actors as George Reeves in the 1950's Adventures of Superman to Dean Cain in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Of course when most of people think of Superman on the big screen, they probably think about Christopher Reeve from the Superman Movies.

But I believe that it is Clark Kent, Superman's alter-ego, that many can identify with. Clark is your everyman. The regular guy who has the heart of a hero. Which brings me to the purpose of this post.

When author Brad Meltzer(who penned several Justice League of America graphic novels), whose latest work The Book of Lies, visited Ohio doing research, he saw something that was considered a shame. The birthplace of Superman, not the Planet Krypton, but the house in which Jerry Siegel had lived, had fallen into disrepair.

It is truly sad when any home falls into disrepair, but especially if it's the home of someone who gave the world such an enduring character. This is where we all can try and bring out the hero in us. When several Cleveland residents and comic book creators learned about the condition of the house, they founded the Siegel and Shuster Society, whose aim is to save the Supeman House. So what do you say? Are you ready to rip open that shirt, reveal that 'S' and become a hero?

As an interesting note, Meltzer's The Book of Lies also touches on the 1932 murder of Jerry Siegel's father, Mitchell. Interestingly enough, in all the interviews that Jerry Siegel has given, is none of them does he mention that his father was killed in an armed robbery.

"But think about it," Meltzer says, in a USA TODAY on-line article. "Your father dies in a robbery, and you invent a bulletproof man who becomes the world's greatest hero. I'm sorry, but there's a story there."


davetheymysteryguy said...

I still have a huge collection of my Superman comics. And I loved the shows. I have the old ones and the Lois and Clark ones all on DVD. Plus the movies. Of course my kids love Superman Returns, but they've started watching the Christopher Reeve films too. Of course, they still haven't watched the 1950's version. Oh well. At least they're watching the classic Superman movies.

Anonymous said...

As much as I like the character of Superman, I think it's absolutely disgraceful how DC Comics tricked Siegel and Shuster out of theri creative rights to Superman when they signed the two on as staff artists. And then that horrid company fired the two when they asked for money. It was THEIR creation after all. And even though they eventually paid them a yearly sum AFTER the first Superman movie was a success, it in no way makes up for what Siegel and Shuster could (and should have) earned. And the fact that the rights to Superman are still being contested is just ridiculous.

R.J. Mangahas said...

Dave --- Good to know the kids are turning to classic movies such as the Reeve Superman movies. Personally, I wasn't all that impressed with Superman Returns. I'm not saying it was a bad movie, I just didn't find it to be great. Although, I have to say, Kevin Spacey made one hell of a Lex Luthor. Byt they way, do your kids watch Smallville?

Anon --- True. It was pretty underhanded what the people at DC did to a couple of teenagers, who happened to create one of the most recognizable chracters of our time.

Ellen James said...

It's always sad to see the homes of great people fall apart. Only recently has anything been done to help and preserve Edgar Allen Poe's house in New York. And I saw first hand the deteriorated condition of the Edith Whorton House. It's heartbreaking really. After I saw the condition of The Superman house in the video you posted, I went over to that site and donated some money. I really hope that the Siegel and Shuster Society raise enough money to repair and preserve that house.

R.J. Mangahas said...

Ellen -- I agree it's sad when things like that happen I actually saw an article about a month or two ago about what the restoration plans for the Poe house were.

And I'm sure your donation will help. Every little bit does.

Brett S said...

I didn't really care for Brad Meltzer's book, but I think that it's a great cause that he's backing.

Sam said...

Sorry I'm late joining this party. I just finished up with BOOK OF LIES. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't one of Brad Meltzer's better books. Some of it was a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, I think what he's doing is a great thing. I actually saw that house when I was visiting friends in Cleveland. It's nice to know that someone is trying to save it.

paul said...

I just ran across your blog. Interesting stuff here. As regards to the Superman house. I say best of luck to The Siegel and Shuster Society. It'll be a challenge I think.

R.J. Mangahas said...

Hey Sam --- Good to see you back. You're not that late ;-). Pretty sad state that the house is in, huh?

Paul --- Thanks for reading. Hope you decide to visit again. And tell your friends.