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Comic Creator Siegel & Shuster

Siegel & Shuster

Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

(17 October 1914 - 28 January 1996, USA & 10 July 1914, Canada - 30 July 1992, USA)   United States

  Siegel & Shuster

Superman in action, 1938, by Joe Shuster
First story of Superman (1938)

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are the spiritual fathers of 'Superman' (1938), the most famous superhero comic on Earth, along with Bob Kane's 'Batman' and Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's 'Spider-Man'. Siegel was the franchise's first scriptwriter, while Shuster was its first artist. Together they laid the foundations for the character's entire mythos. They gave him an origin story, a home city – Metropolis – and introduced characters who are still used by 'Superman' comics artists today, such as Lois Lane, Jor-El, Jimmy Olsen and Lex Luthor. The impact of the most famous Kryptonian of all time cannot be underestimated. Superman not only became one of the most iconic comics characters of all time: he spawned an entirely new and quintessential American genre: superhero comics. An entire industry was built around comic books about humanitarian crusaders with inhuman powers. Virtually all of them have taken elements from tropes pioneered by Siegel and Shuster. The duo was directly responsible for turning DC Comics into one of the major comics companies in the world. And yet, no matter how many other superheroes have been created since, Superman remains the most legendary. He is the only one who managed to become an internationally recognizable American national symbol, only matched by Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse in terms of global resonance. Sadly, Siegel and Shuster's lifestory is also very American. Despite creating an international hit they were never able to profit from it because of contractual issues. Others became billionaires with their creations, while they almost went bankrupt. In their case "truth, justice and the American way" left a very sour aftertaste...

Jerome "Jerry" Siegel and Joe Shuster were both born in 1914 and were of Jewish descent. Siegel was born in Cleveland, Ohio, as the son of a sign painter who immigrated from Russia. Shuster saw light in Toronto, Canada, as son of a tailor and had Dutch-Ukranian roots. When Shuster's family moved to Cleveland in 1924 and sent their son to Glenville High School they met for the first time. Both were huge fans of science fiction stories and devoured magazines like Amazing Stories and Weird Tales. In terms of comics they were very much inspired by Dick Calkins' 'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century', Harold Foster's 'Tarzan' and even the more comical 'Popeye' by E.C. Segar, who reached higher notability from 1933 on when Max and Dave Fleischer adapted him into a succesful series of animated cartoons. Shuster and Siegel got their first expertise in drawing comics when working for the Glenville Torch, their local school paper. One of their first collaborative efforts was 'Goober the Mighty' (1931), a parody of Tarzan. Right from the start Siegel functioned as the scriptwriter, while Shuster provided the illustrations. Shuster later attended the Cleveland School of Art for a while, but despite this formal art training, he later claimed that movies had a far greater impact on the composition and design of his visual narratives.

Unfortunately, the Great Depression was a bad time for people without a job. Siegel and Shuster tried to make a living as authors of science fiction novels, but none of their stories found a publisher. Tired of waiting in vain they founded their own magazine, Science Fiction, in October 1932. In their third issue (January 1933) they published a story called 'The Reign of the Superman', which marked the first appearance of the iconic character, though not in the form as he is known today. Here he was merely a monster created by mad scientist Professor Ernest Smalley with aid of a meteor. Smalley wants to make the perfect human being. His eugenetic experiment pays off, as Superman has indeed amazing telepathic super powers. But he eventually goes on a rampage until his power wears off. The story was clearly inspired by Mary Shelley's novel 'Frankenstein', which was adapted into film by Universal in 1931 starring Boris Karloff. Contrary to popular thought the term "superman" was not thought up by Siegel, nor Shuster. It first appeared as a concept in German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's 1883 treatise 'Also Sprach Zarathustra', where it was described as the "Übermensch". This was later translated by some English translators as 'superman', like in George Bernard Shaw's play 'Man and Superman' (1903) and already in casual use by some pulp novelists, which might be where Siegel and Shuster picked it up since they never read Nietzsche. Despite its historical significance the comic didn't have any impact. Clearly audiences were not in the mood for a story about an omni-powerful villain. Siegel and Shuster therefore tried out several other science fiction stories which kept being rejected by bigger publishing companies.

Halfway the 1930s comics were released in a new format: comic books. Contrary to newspaper comics which only published one or two strips a day these books made entire stories available at once. People could therefore buy an issue without having to wait an entire day for the next episode. They could even keep and collect them. The concept was still in its infancy and most stories that were published had already proven their popularity through pre-publication in newspapers or magazines. Nevertheless Siegel and Shuster were immediately attracted to the idea. One comic book that particularly caught their attention was 'Detective Dan' by Norman Marsh. This detective comic was unusual in the sense that it hadn't been prepublished elsewhere and was only available in book format. Siegel and Shuster decided to use the same strategy. They brushed off their old Superman story and quickly made a comic book around it. They even found a publishing company named Consolidated who were willing to take the risk. Unfortunately Consolidated changed its mind when 'Detective Dan' failed to catch on and Marsh himself moved on to revamp his comic book to a newspaper strip called 'Dan Dunn'. Devastated, Siegel and Shuster destroyed their only copy of this 'Superman' book. Today only the first page survives. In later interviews they claimed that this early incarnation of Superman was already a strong person but lacked inhuman powers.


Dr. Occult

Slowly but surely Siegel and Shuster did manage to get another comic strip published, namely 'Henri Duval of France, Famed Soldier of Fortune', a swashbuckler story published in New Fun (issue #6, October 1935). It ran for four episodes. More succesful was 'Dr. Occult, the Ghost Detective' (October 1935), about a doctor who battled a vampire, and 'Federal Men' (January 1936), about government agent Steve Carson and his action-adventures. Doctor Occult is the earliest character created by DC Comics which is still currently used in the DC Universe. In March 1937 the oldest American comics magazine in the world, 'Detective Comics', was established. Siegel and Shuster created two features in its first issue. 'Bart Regan, Spy' was a reboot of a previous one-off feature from Comics Magazine #2 (1936) by Centaur Publishing, while the new creation 'Slam Bradley' was a detective who was good with his fists.

Slam Bradley by Siegel & Shuster
Slam Bradley (Detective Comics #1)

These early successes gave them the courage to flesh out their 'Superman' idea. They decided to make him a hero rather than a villain. He received an extraterrestrial backstory, a uniform and a double life as a shy, bespectacled journalist. Another big inspiration was Philip Wylie's novel 'Gladiator', which they had read in one of the many science fiction magazines they enjoyed. Still, it took a while before they found a publisher who believed in their idea, as well as someone they deemed trustworthy. In this early conceptual phase, artists like Tony Strobl, Mel Graff, and Russell Keaton were also brought in by Siegel to draw the project, but in the end, Siegel and Shuster went back to working together on the character. A nowadays hilarious rejection letter by an editor at Tip Top Comics declared Superman an "attractive idea because of its freshness and naïvité, but still a rather immature piece of work." In 1937 the duo finally got their chance of a lifetime when publisher Wheeler-Nicholson went bankrupt. The company was taken over by the businessmen Donnenfeld and Liebowitz who wanted to start a new comic book series named 'Action Comics', similar to 'Detective Comics' which had already become a best-seller thanks to their star series 'Dick Tracy' by Chester Gould. Siegel and Shuster were asked whether they had anything suitable for the first issue? Thus 'Superman' finally made his debut in Action Comics issue #1 (June 1938).

Spy: The Nearly-Weds, by Joe Shuster (Detective Comics #3, 1937)
Spy: The Nearly-Weds (Detective Comics #3, 1937)

The Superman mythos and backstory is common knowledge to almost everybody on Earth, even people who don't really read or enjoy superhero comics. Superman was born on Krypton, a distant planet threatened by destruction. His parents, Jor-El and Lara, decide to place their new-born boy into a rocket which blasts off into space. After crashing down on Earth the little kid is adopted by a childless couple, John and Mary Kent, who name the orphan Clark Kent. They quickly discover that he is no ordinary infant, but decide to keep his real identity and super powers hidden from the outside world. When Clark becomes an adult he learns the truth about his origins and decides to move to the big city Metropolis, whose name was lifted from Fritz Lang's eponymous 1927 science fiction film. Clark becomes a reporter for The Daily Star (changed into The Daily Planet in the 23th issue) and disguises himself as a shy, clumsy man with glasses. Only when he notices crime he quickly rushes away to a phone booth, alley or cabin to change into his iconic red and blue uniform. Taking on his new identity as Superman he zooms off to the crime scene, saving the day. In early stories Superman didn't fly yet, but this quickly became one of his trademarks, along with the iconic exchange from people in the crowd: : "Look up in the air. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's... Superman!" After showing off his invincibility Superman then brings crooks and robbers to the local police station and disappears from the limelight to regain his Clark Kent persona again.

The toughest battle of Superman's life is remaining anonymous among the masses. While Superman is hailed as a hero, nobody cares about Clark Kent. Everybody sees him as a loser, including his boss George Taylor and colleague Lois Lane, with whom Kent is hopelessly in love. Unfortunately the young and attractive female reporter is not attracted to him at all and even views him as her rival. The character was partially based on the reporter Torchy Blane from the eponymous 1936-1939 film serial and Siegel's future wife, Joanne Carter. Her first name was borrowed from a high school student Siegel was hopelessly in love with, but never approached. Her last name was taken from film actress Lola Lane. The only person somewhat sympathetic to Clark is the young photojournalist Jimmy Olsen. While Taylor and Lane made their debut in Action Comics' first issue Jimmy first appeared in the sixth issue, but only became a major character from the 13th issue in 1941 on. Superman struggles with the fact that he can never reveal his true identity, even though many people, including the love of his life Lois, would instantly like him a lot better. It's this recognizable human drama that made him relatable to readers, despite the fantastic elements in the overall narrative. Slowly but surely 'Superman' hit a nerve with audiences and became a colossal best-seller. DC Comics turned into one of the biggest comic book companies in the world and Action Comics continues to be still in print today, being the second oldest American comics magazine after Detective Comics (1937). Siegel and Shuster had finally created their American Dream.


Clark Kent and Lois Lane in Action Comics #23

The demand for new 'Superman' stories quickly rose. The character had already got his own title as early as 1939, while Action Comics also continued to print his adventures. Furthermore, the caped crusader also appeared in other comics formats. In 1939 he received his own daily and Sunday newspaper comic strip, which ran through the Bell-McClure Syndicate without interruption until April 1966. It was first drawn by Joe Shuster and his assistants, and in later years by Wayne Boring, Win Mortimer and Curt Swan. The writing was in hands of Jerry Siegel, then passed on to Whitney Ellsworth, Jack Schiff, Alvin Schwartz, Bill Woolfolk and Bill Finger. An irregular spin-off, 'Lois Lane, Girl Reporter' (1943-1944) ran as a topper to the Sunday strip, but only lasted twelve episodes. The Superman comic books also inspired some spin-offs over the years, such as 'Superboy' (1949), 'Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen' (1954-1974), 'Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane' (1958-1974) and 'Supergirl' (1972). 


First Superman daily, from 16 January 1939

To keep up with their workload, Siegel and Shuster had begun working with assistants as early as 1938. Shuster turned the inking and finished artwork of several 'Superman' stories over to Paul Cassidy (1938-1940), who gave 'Superman' the classic "S" on his costume. Wayne Boring began assisting on 'Spy' and 'Slam Bradley' in 1938, and physically joined the Cleveland-based studio in 1940. Cassidy was replaced by Leo Nowak (1940-1943). John Sikela became one of Shuster's long lasting ghosts in 1940 as well, and often worked as a tandem on stories with Ed Dobrotka, who joined in 1941. Another early assistant was Paul J. Lauretta (1939), while Hi Mankin attended the studio for one month in 1941. New artists joined during the war period, such as Jack Burnley, Fred Ray, Sam Citron, Ira Yarbrough and Pete Riss, as well as the inkers Stan Kaye and George Roussos. In 1940, Siegel also created the ghostly avenger 'The Spectre' with Bernard Baily for More Fun Comics #52.


From: Superman #4 (inks by Paul Cassidy)

The Kryptonian hero also conquered other media. As early as 1942 George Lowther devoted novels to him, illustrated by Shuster. A long-running radio serial 'The Adventures of Superman' (1940-1951) was broadcast on the Mutual Radio Network, followed by a series of animated shorts by Paramount Pictures (1941-1943) and two film serials, 'Superman' (1948) and 'Atom Man vs. Superman' (1950) by Columbia Pictures. In 1951 the character received his own feature length-movie, 'Superman and the Mole Men' (1951), where he was portrayed by George Reeves, who also played him in the popular TV series 'Adventures of Superman' (1952-1958). Reeves' mysterious death from a gunshot in 1959 cancelled the program. It's still disputed whether he committed suicide or was murdered. Animated TV series couldn't stay behind either. Filmation made 'The New Adventures of Superman' (1966-1970), while Hanna-Barbera came up with the 'Super Friends' (1973-1985). Ruby-Spears produced the short-lived 'Superman' (1988), while Warner Bros. Animation made 'Superman: The Animated Series' (1996-2000), arguably the best quality effort. Two live-action drama series, 'Lois & Clark' (1993-1997) and 'Smallville' (2001-2011) also kept interest in the franchise alive. In 1966 Charles Strouse and Lee Adams adapted Superman into a Broadway musical: 'It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman' (1966). Superman reached a whole new audience in 1978, when Richard Donner directed the blockbuster movie 'Superman' (1978), which starred Christopher Reeve in the title role, along with a heavily publicized supporting role of Marlon Brando as Jor-El. The script was written by Mario Puzo, famous for writing 'The Godfather'. The films were popular enough to inspire four sequels. The first Superman video games also co-incided with Donner's movie version. New Superman movies appeared with 'Superman Returns' (2006) by Bryan Singer, this time starring Brandon Routh as the legendary superhero. The film proved enough of a financial success to pave the way for new blockbuster movies, such as the heavily polarizing 'Man of Steel' (2013) and 'Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice' (2016), which both starred Henry Cavill. Superman was also subject of two paintings by Andy Warhol, made in respectively 1960 and 1981.


The Inventions of Hector Thwistle, inks by George Roussos (Superman #43)

However, Superman's true historical legacy is not just that he is an iconic character, but more that he singlehandedly established the "superhero comics" genre, and launched the so-called "Golden Age of Comic Books". While there had been predecessors to the idea of a comic book superhero, such as Wilhelm Detlev Körner's 'Hugo Hercules' (1902-1903), E.C. Segar's 'Popeye' (1929) and Lee Falk's 'Mandrake the Magician' (1934) and 'The Phantom' (1936), Superman was still a genuine new concept. Siegel and Shuster introduced many elements that have now become clichés of the genre, such as the idea of a muscular caped hero in uniform with the suffix "-man" or "-woman" in his or her name. They also pioneered the idea of an origin story and the necessity of the hero to keep his or her identity a secret. Even the concept of a platonic love interest and recurring eccentric supervillains can be attributed to them. Countless similar inhumanly powerful crime fighters were created in Superman's wake, such as 'The Arrow' by Paul Gustavson (1938), 'Crimson Avenger' by Jim Chambers (1938), 'Batman' by Bob Kane (1939), 'Captain Marvel' (1940) by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck, 'Thin Man' by Klaus Nordling (1940), 'The Flash' by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert (1940), 'Green Lantern' (1940) by Martin Nodell and Bill Finger, 'Wonder Woman' by William Moulton Marston (1941), 'Captain America' by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (1941), 'Plastic Man' by Jack Cole (1941), 'Aquaman' by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger (1941) and naturally Stan Lee's 'The Fantastic Four' (1961, with Jack Kirby), 'Spider-Man' (1962, with Steve Ditko), 'The Incredible Hulk' (1962, with Kirby), 'X-Men', 'The Avengers' (1963, with Kirby), 'Iron Man' (1963, with Don Heck), 'The Silver Surfer'(1966, with Kirby), and many more. Superman's influence is also felt in comic book superheroes from other countries, such as 'Streamline' by Denis Gifford and Bob Monkhouse (1947), 'Darna' by Mars Ravelo and Nestor Redondo (1950), 'Jerom' by Willy Vandersteen (1953), 'Astérix' by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo (1959) and 'Captain Canuck' by Richard Comely and Ron Leishman (1975). In some cases the similarities were a bit too blatant. Both 'Wonder Man' by Will Eisner (1939) and 'Master Man' by Newt Alfred and Harry Fiske (1940) were sued and forced to cancel their series as a result. Bill Parker and C.C. Beck's 'Captain Marvel' (1940), Superman's most successful rival, were also threatened by legal action, but this court case only reached a final verdict in 1953 when Marvel was forced to discontinue. Later DC revived the character themselves, albeit under the name 'Shazam!', based on his sword. As popular as these imitators became, Superman remained the most iconic superhero, only rivalled by Batman and Spider-Man.

Much has been written about Superman and why he became such a global success. Many elements about the character were autobiographical. The skyscrapers of Metropolis were based on Shuster's hometown Toronto. His background as a journalist and paperboy for the Toronto newspaper Daily Star evidently inspired Kent's profession. Both Siegel as well as Shuster were shy, somewhat geeky men who had their fair share of bad luck in life. As Jews they both endured antisemitism. They weren't popular in high school, particularly not with girls. For a long while they couldn't get a decent job and were quite poor. The daydream of actually being accepted and respected by their environment was something they could identify with. Millions of readers could too. Particularly in the 1930s and early 1940s the time was ripe for dreams about omnipotence. The Great Depression made many struggle to make ends meet, while civilization was threatened by a new world war. 'Superman' provided ideal escapism during these depressing times. Many liked the idea of a hero who could save mankind, especially if they could imagine themselves in Kent's role. But even after World War Two Superman endured. He continued an ancient tradition of invincible mythological heroes like Hercules and Siegfried and religious saviours such as Moses and Jesus Christ. At the same time, Superman also perfectly encapsulated the American Dream. Like many immigrants he came to the United States and managed to find a new identity and even succesful career. Various adaptations - particularly the movies - had him fight for "truth, justice and the American way". In a sense he literally embodied America as a superpower, "rescueing" the world from "evil". Or , as his detractors might see him: an one-dimensional fantasy idea of this concept.


Hocus and Pocus...Magicians by Accident! (Action Comics #83)

Siegel and Shuster enriched Superman's back story in various ways. His inhuman powers provided them with inexhaustible ideas for new stories. In each new adventure, readers learned something new about their hero. The strong and superfast flying saviour of mankind could jump extremely high, had X-ray vision and a bullet-proof chest. It made up for sensational action scenes, but after a while he became a bit too invincible for his own good. How could the most invincible character ever created ever be in genuine danger? Another limit to the stories' power was editor Whitney Ellsworth's decision to make Superman more noble by never murdering anybody, which he still did in the earlier stories. To keep the stories somewhat suspenseful, new enemies were created whose intellect or powers proved to be worthy opponents to Superman's talents. The most famous of them is the genius billionaire Lex Luthor, who debuted in issue #23 (April 1940). Siegel and Shuster also came up with the Prankster in issue #51 (August 1942), a con-artist who enjoys playing pranks on Superman and who was obviously inspired by The Joker in Bob Kane's 'Batman'. The Toyman first started tormenting Superman with his toys and gadgets in issue #64 (September 1943). Also created by Siegel, but first used in a comic by Whitney Ellsworth and Wayne Boring was the annoying imp Mister Mxyzptlk, who debuted in the 'Superman' newspaper comic (issue #30, September 1944). Later artists created more supervillains, of which the android Brainiac (issue #242, July 1958) and General Zod (issue #283, April 1961) had the most staying power. In 1943, Superman's only weakness was introduced, Kryptonite, a material which originated from his home planet and whose radio-active rays severely weakened him. Siegel and Shuster also came up with new dimensions for the other cast members. Lois Lane first adapted a superhero persona of her own as 'Superwoman' in issue #60 (May 1943).

Funnyman by Joe Shuster
The Return of Slippery Slim (Funnyman #4)

Unfortunately for Superman's creators, their story was less glorious. Siegel and Shuster's contract stipulated that all the rights to their characters and associated merchandise were handed over to their publisher. The duo, so willing to get their comic published after numerous rejections, had sold their first story for 130 dollars. By 1945 their control over their own creation started to diminish. Shuster suffered from increasingly worsening eyesight, while Siegel was drafted during World War Two. To their horror they were easily replaceable. Superman's concept and artwork were so simple that other artists took over, without the fans noticing any shift in tone or quality. As DC took Superman into directions they didn't like without paying them for it, they decided to sue. Originally they received support from M.C. Gaines, but when he noticed that parts of their story didn't match, he no longer trusted them and pulled out. In 1947 the judge ruled in the company's favour that the contract was very clear. Having lost the case, Siegel and Shuster were now removed from all Superman-related media, including their names on the credits. Disillusioned, Shuster retreated from the comic scene completely. He and Siegel only made one final comic, 'Funnyman' (1948), for rival company Magazine Enterprises. Shuster merely did layouts for this feature, the finished pencil art was done John Sikela, Dick Ayers and Marvin Stein. While 'Funnyman' inspired a newspaper comic in October of that same year, the characer failed to catch on and was cancelled after only six issues. In the daily strip, the 'Funnyman' character apparently didn't appear after June 1949. By then, the Bell Syndicate was selling the strip under the title 'Reggie'.

Siegel became comics art director for Ziff-Davis publications in the 1950s and wrote new Superman stories under pseudonyms for editor Mort Weisinger. Hiding behind pen names like "Joe Carter" and "Jerry Ess" he wrote a few stories for Charlton Comics ('Mr. Muscles', 'Za Za the Mystic', 1956), Marvel Comics ('Human Torch' in Strange Tales (1963), 'Angel' in Ka-Zar, (1970-1971)) and Archie Comics ('Shield' and 'Black Hood' for Mighty Comics, 'Fly Man', 1964-1967). He even worked on comics for foreign companies, such as the British comic strip 'The Spider' by Ted Cowman and Reg Bunn, who originally appeared in the magazine Lion. He wrote a 'Donald Duck' and a 'Junior Woodchucks' story for Gold Key Comics in 1972, both with art by Kay Wright. Siegel had a more fruitful collaboration as a writer of Disney comics for Mondadori in Italy. He wrote stories with the Duck family and also 'Mickey Mouse' for Topolino between 1972 and 1979. Together with Val Mayerik he furthermore created 'The Starling' (Eclipse, 1982) and he was also active for the independent company Aardvark-Vanaheim, best known for publishing Dave Sim's 'Cerebus the Aardvark'. Siegel also continued to try his luck at more newspaper strips, including creating 'Ken Winston' for General Features (art by Ogden Whitney and Mike Roy, 1954-1955) and writing 'Tallulah' (art by Ira Yarbrough, 1950-1952) and 'Buck Rogers' (1959) for the John F. Dille Company.


Ken Winston strip from 30 October 1954 by Jerry Siegel and Ogden Whitney

None of Siegel's other creations were ever successful in the long run, which he blamed on being black-balled from the comic industry. When the Superman movies came along in 1978, Siegel and Shuster once again tried to get some kind of financial retribution. They were supported by Neal Adams and Jerry Robinson and the case got so much bad publicity that DC Comics started to realize all this wouldn't do their upcoming movie adaptation much good. While they still felt that they legally didn't owe them anything, they did give them credit and a lifetime annuity. Both men lived quietly until well into their nineties. In 1992 Shuster passed away, at that point totally blind. Siegel survived him four more years until he died as well in 1996. Even in death the legal struggles between the Siegel estate and DC Comics haven't diminished, with lawsuits over Superman's copyright and the claim that his idea of 'Superboy' was stolen away from him by DC at the time.

Siegel received an Inkpot Award in 1975. In 1992 Siegel and Shuster were inducted in the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame a year later. Shuster's name lives on in the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame, in which he and Siegel werd inducted posthumously in 2005. The same year two streets in Cleveland were named "Jerry Siegel Lane" and "Joe Shuster Lane". While Siegel and Shuster could have been more rich, famous and respected their legacy is still alive today. Various other artists have drawn 'Superman' after they left the title. Among the scriptwriters have been Cary Bates, Kust Busiek, Don Cameron, Bill Finger, Geoff Johns, Elliot S. Maggin, Alan Moore, Martin Pasko, James Robinson, Jim Shooter, Len Wein, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, Scott Lobdell, George Pérez, Gene Luen Yang, Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. In later years, Superman's adventures have been visualized by artists like Wayne Boring, Al Plastino, Ross Andru, Curt Swan, José Luis García-López, Dick Dillin, Stuart Immonen, Pete Woods, Renato Guedes, Karl Kerschi, Carlos Pacheco, Eddy Barrows, Kenneth Rocafort, George Pérez, Howard Porter, John Romita Jr. and Patrick Gleason, among many others. New recurring characters were introduced to the cast, such as Superman's dog, Krypto (issue 210, March 1955) and a female companion, Supergirl (issue #252, May 1959), who also had a pet of her own, Streaky the Cat (issue #261, February 1960). More animals were Beppo the Super-Monkey (issue #76, October 1959) and Comet the Super Horse (issue #293, October 1962). Among the more sensational storylines were the crossover between Superman and Marvel Comics' Spider-Man in 1976 and even one with boxing legend Muhammad Ali (1978). In issue #484 (June 1978) Clark and Lois finally marry, which inspires Superman to finally reveal his secret identity to her. In issue #75 (January 1993) Superman even died for a couple of issues. But, if all the Messianic similarities weren't enough already, he too was eventually revived in issue #82 (October 1993).

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

'Superman' has become such a cultural phenomenon that parody was inevitable. Comedic orchestra leader Spike Jones ridiculed him in the song 'The Funnies' (1948), Harvey Kurtzman and Wallace Wood spoofed him as 'Superduper Man' (1953) in Mad Magazine. Other direct parodies were Paul Terry's 'Mighty Mouse' (1942), Al Fagaly's 'Super Duck' (1943), Henry Boltinoff's 'Super-Turtle' (1963), Jay Ward's 'Super Chicken' (1967), Marcel Gotlib and Jacques Lob's 'Superdupont' (1972), Jan's 'Superlópez' (1973) and Willem Ritstier and René Uilenbroek's 'Soeperman' (1986). One of the most famous sketches by British comedy group Monty Python's Flying Circus is 'Bicycle Repairman' (1969) in which the 'Superman' concept is turned on its head by having an ordinary bicycle repairman be the superhero with a secret identity in a city of supermen. The music industry too has drawn inspiration from Siegel and Shuster's creation. Many songs have a direct reference to Superman, like 'Sunshine Superman' by Donovan (1966), 'Superman' by Gruppo Sportivo (1977), '(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman' by The Kinks (1979), 'Superman's Big Sister' by Ian Dury and the Blockheads (1980), 'O Superman' by Laurie Anderson' (1982), 'Waitin' for a Superman' by The Flaming Lips (1999), 'Kryptonite' by 3 Doors Down (2000), 'The Man of Metropolis Steals our Heart' by Sufjan Stevens (2005) and 'Superman' by The BPA (2009). The Dutch band Loïs Lane (1984), featuring the sisters Suzanne and Monique Klemann, named themselves after Clark Kent's love interest (although the group is known in the US as Lois L for legal reasons). The Police drummer Stewart Copeland released his first solo album under the pseudonym "Klark Kent" in 1980.

Besides Siegel and Shuster's character, the first issue of the comic book Action Comics also has a legendary status. In February 2010, one of the few remaining copies was sold at an auction for 1 million US dollars, becoming the first million-dollar comic book. Another copy sold for $2.16 million in November 2011 through ComicConnect.com. It is speculated that this was a copy stolen from actor and comics collector Nicolas Cage in 2000.

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