Tag Archives: jerry siegel

Immigration And Comics

ck-rocket-from-krypton-croppedYou’d have to have been living under a rock to have avoided the refugee and, to a lesser extent, the immigration discussions occurring these past few months.

As an immigrant myself, it’s a discussion that I’ve been paying some attention too.

First things first, though, is that I should clarify that my situation in no way resembled the plight of those from Syria. As a white man immigrating from the United Kingdom it would be offensive to those refugees to say that I know what they’re going through. I don’t.

I genuinely hope that I never will.

Indeed, I have been present in my new country when people start talking about “the immigrants” taking their jobs because they didn’t consider me an immigrant.  This was shortly after asking about my accent. I may be a white guy, but my accent sure isn’t from this side of the pond. That’s about as much prejudice as I have ever encountered on my end, directly, and while I found it exasperatingly funny at the time, it does go to  show the general sense that a (very) few have toward immigrants (at least in my experience, but as I said, mine is not the same as the Syrian refugees. Not even close). Even comparing a refugee to an immigrant is a slippery slope; while some immigrants such as myself arrive in a new country of their own volition, some undoubtedly feel forced out of their homes, due to escalating conflicts or tensions at home. But either way, the immigrant has a little more freedom to make the decision. A refugee has no choice in the matter; they just want their family to feel safe.

And the type of safety that the Syrian refugees are currently seeking, and the scale of the horror’s they are running from is something that many of us have no personal experience with.  Hopefully we never will, but that doesn’t preclude us from having some empathy for them, either.

My family have lived in England for as long as I am aware (my Aunt traced my grandfather’s line back to around the 1700’s, give or take), so I can’t knowingly claim that there is any immigration within my family’s past (myself aside), but that’s not necessarily true of people living on this side of the pond.

There are millions of people in North American who can trace their families back across the years and the oceans to other countries, when their ancestors left their home lands for fear of persecution or simply to hope for a better life.

This is especially true when it comes to some of the early and/or influential members of the comic book community.

The Thing KirbyIndeed, many of the greatest names in American comics are often the first generation born in the new country, such as Art Speigelman (the author of Maus), Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman, Green Lantern, and many many others), Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (the men who created Superman). Even Bob Kane‘s (Batman‘s other co-creator) parents were of Eastern European Jewish descent. The point I am attempting to make here is that the sons of Jewish immigrants created some of our biggest super heroes, and some of our greatest stories.

And what of their creations? 

Superman is an alien from another planet who’s family sought refuge for their only child from the end of their world. He is far from native to any country on Earth, yet he has chosen to make the planet his  home. Far beyond just simply moving from country to country, Superman is an interplanetary immigrant that kick started the modern superhero comic. 

And he’s not the only immigrant in comics, either; Supergirl, the Martian Manhunter are but two of the early inter-planetary examples, X-O Manowar is both a geographical and chronological immigrant (it sounds confusing when typing it like that, but the character is as rich and deep as any other on this list). Howard the Duck has been trapped in a world that he’s slowly become accustomed to, but was never his own; and Thor Odinson has been protecting our world for centuries – and even without his hammer he continues to do so. The idea of a hero from the stars come to save humanity (or in the case of Howard the Duck to simply work amongst us) is an idea that as comic book fans we’re all enamored with , and in many cases these interplanetary immigrants have become some of the most beloved, and powerful, characters in the comic book reading world.

Giant-Size_X-Men_Vol_1_1In terms of the more traditional Earthbound type of immigration, the of moving between countries, look at almost the entire second team of X-Men; BansheeColossus, Nightcrawler, Sunfire, Storm and Wolverine are all from countries other than the US. You know what that makes them, eh?

If  these characters were ignored because they were immigrants, both of the interplanetary and Earthbound nature,  would comics, nay, popular culture, even have the same face? The Superman symbol is an internationally recognized symbol of truth, justice, and the American Way, and Wolverine is arguably one of the most popular characters to ever appear in a comic book. What if the parents of the previously mentioned creators, and the numerous others I haven’t named who are also descended from immigrants, were trying to escape their living conditions to provide a better life for their families today? Would we still want to turn them away?

If it wasn’t for the sons and daughters of refugees and immigrants the comic book landscape, and perhaps even our way of life would be drastically different than what we’re used too. Before you add your voice to those who say we should close up our borders, take a long hard look at your family history, at the characters you love, and tell me where you would be if the country you call home had refused to admit any new immigrants at any point in the past two or three hundred years.

Would you still be sat here reading this, if your ancestors hadn’t had the opportunity to live a new life in North America?

Cleveland Celebrates Superman’s 75th Birthday

Cleveland, Ohio plays a special role in the creation of Superman. The city was the home of Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and, of course, Joanne Siegel (the inspiration for Lois Lane). Siegel and Shuster are better known as the creators of the iconic super hero. While Superman might have lived in Smallville, the blue-collar city considers itself his real home.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of Action Comics #1, the debut of the Man of Steel. To mark that event Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has declared it Superman Day in the city.

The city also has some super plans to celebrate its connection with this global icon.

May and June: The Cleveland Public Library, Main Library, 325 Superior Ave., where Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster spent countless hours reading and researching, will have an exhibit honoring Superman and the creators. Free.

May 4: An exclusive, new Superman comic will be given out on Free Comic Book Day at comic shops all over the world, including in Northeast Ohio.

May 26: The fourth annual Lake Effect Comic Book Convention will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Atlas Cinemas Great Lakes Stadium 16, in Mentor’s Great Lakes Mall. Free admission. Guests include comic writers and artists Craig Tucker, Gary Dumm, Sean Forney, Chris Lambert and others. Costume Contest at 3 p.m. Visit http://comicsandfriends.org/lakeeffectcomiccon/

June 1-8: Terminal Tower will be lit with red, yellow and blue lights in honor of the anniversary.

June 4: Launch party for Brad Ricca’s “Super Boys” (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99), the biography of Siegel, Shuster and Superman, will be at the Barnes & Noble store in Westlake’s Crocker Park at 7 p.m. Ricca, who teaches at Case Western Reserve University, will speak and sign books. Visit www.super-boys.com for more area signings and information.

June 8: Capitol Theatre, 1390 West 65th St., (216) 651-7295, will show superhero cartoons for free all day as part of the Party in Gordon Square celebration.

The instant store, “The Planet,” will stay open into the night at 6706 Detroit Ave., as part of the Gordon Square festival. The shop will host comic dealers, local artists, caricaturists, and a toy shop including lots of Superman memorabilia.

June 14: “The Man of Steel” Superman movie starring Henry Cavill opens. The Siegel and Shuster Society will host a 7 p.m. showing at the Capitol Theatre, 1390 West 65th St. Society members will speak before the film. Free comics will be distributed. Noted artist Derek Hess will give away and sign a print he will create for the event.

June 16-23: The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage will celebrate Superman and his creators with events for adults and kids. Check www.maltzmuseum.org for details. The museum is at 2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood. 216-593-0575.

June 22: Superman family day at the Cleveland Public Library, Glenville branch, 11900 St. Clair Ave. Mike Barr, noted DC Comics author; Michael Savene, promoter of the Akron Comicon; and Mike Olszewski, Siegel and Shuster Society president, will appear. Kids can create their own superhero capes, masks and comic books. Free.

June 23: History of Superman in Cleveland Lolly the Trolley tour from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. A drive around the city with stops at important Superman sites, including the former homes of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Tour will be narrated by Olszewski and Plain Dealer Comics Columnist Michael Sangiacomo.

June 26: Free Superman event at the Akron Public Library, 60 South High Street, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. with Superman panel. Superman costume contest and trivia game.

July 8 to 14: The Great Lakes Science Center will host a speaker from NASA who will speak on “The Science of Superman” at the center, 6011 Erieside Ave., Cleveland.

Nov. 9: Akron Comicon will be at the University of Akron Quaker Station, 135 South Broadway Street, with special guest, legendary Superman Golden Age artist Al Plastino. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Also appearing will be comic artists and writers Chris Sprouse, Mike Barr, Tom Batiuk, Adam Beechen, Tony Isabella, Marc Sumerak, Chris Yambar and Thom Zahler. For more information, visit

While their original home might no longer be standing Cleveland makes it clear the history that was made there.


Around the Tubes

It’s the weekend, so I plan on relaxing, no idea about you. Enjoy this round-up of interesting stories from around the internet.

Around the Tubes

Robot 6 – Voice of John Stewart speaks out on Green Lantern death decreeI like how we’re plotting by committee now.

The Beat – Siegel Superman case ends (almost)And then everyone gets a bunny.

The Beat – Sullivan’s Sluggers is back on IndieGogoMore and more I wish I hadn’t contributed to this.

Comics Alliance – DC Announces 1966 ‘Batman’ Comic By Jeff Parker, Jonathan Case and Michael AllredWasn’t a fan of the show, so yeah.

The Mary Sue – Was Robert Redford Just Added To The Cast Of Captain America?Ok… Only if it includes the rest of the cast of Sneakers.

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Five Ghosts, The Haunting of Fabian Gray #1

CBR – Saga #11

Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman Come to The Library of American Comics!

IDW’s Library of American Comics and DC Entertainment have announced the beginning of a new partnership to reprint some of the rarest DC Comics stories — the Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman newspaper strips.

At the same time that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman became the world’s most famous and recognizable superheroes in comic books in the 1940s and beyond, they also starred in runs of newspaper comic strips, most of which have not been seen since they first appeared.

The Man of Steel’s newspaper adventures ran for more than 25 years, from 1939 until 1966. Only about 10% of these strips have ever been reprinted. The complete comics will be released in three sub-sets, starting with The Silver Age, then The Atomic Age, and finally, The Golden Age. The black-and-white daily and color Sunday strips contained distinct storylines and will be released in separate, concurrent, series of deluxe hardcovers.

The line kicks off this July with Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Vol. 1: 1958-1961. Fans can look forward to nearly 800 strips featuring classic artwork by Curt Swan, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye. While most of the stories from the Atomic Age and Golden Age were original and completely different from the comic books, under Mort Weisinger’s editorship in the late 1950s Silver Age stories, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was brought in to script adaptations of then-current comic book tales.

Covers for each book are being specially created by Pete Poplaski to evoke the look and style of the times; Volume One is an homage to Curt Swan’s art and Ira Schnapp’s lettering design. Tom DeHaven, author of the novel It’s Superman!, is writing the foreword, and the introductions are by Sidney Friedfertig.

Additional details on the Sunday strip books as well as the Batman and Wonder Woman collections will follow, but eager fans should begin watching the skies in July!

Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Vol. 1: 1958-1961
(HC, B&W, $49.99, 288 pages, 11” x 8.5”)
ISBN: 978-1-61377-666-7

Jerry Siegel’s Daughter Speaks Out

Jerry Siegel’s daughter issued a letter to fans recounting her family’s fight to reclaim a portion of the Superman copyright, and criticizing the tactics used by Warner Bros. and DC Comics in the increasingly bitter legal battle.

In 2008 a federal judge ruled that the Siegel family had succeeded in recapturing a share of the first Superman story in Action Comics #1 through a provision of the U.S. Copyright Act. Some of that is still being fought over in appeal. This put DC in a bind as some of Superman’s defining elements were no longer completely in their hands, such as his secret identity, his origin, his costume and Lois Lane.

DC then sued in 2010, to force Marc Toberoff to resign as the Siegel attorney. They claim he advised the family to walk away from a $3 million deal that would’ve permitted the company to retain control of Superman and stands to gain controlling interest in the property.

DC is also asking a court to block the Shuster estate from reclaiming its stake. They  claim the family relinquished all claims to Superman in 1992 in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” including payment of Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and a $25,000 annual pension for his sister Jean Peavy.

The battle has been bitter and hard fought as hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.

Siegel and Shuster vs. Warner – Game On!

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Federal judge Otis D. Wright has lifted the delay in the Siegel & Shuster vs. Warner Bros. lawsuit.  The depositions of the families of Man of Steel creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel is to begin very soon.

The case had been delayed due to waiting on an appeal of a procedural ruling that could have taken many months.  Warner Bros. challenged that ruling and that original order has been modified.

With another big budget movie by Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan in the works, this case will be watched by quite a few folks in Hollywood and elsewhere as numerous lawsuits begin over the creation of some of the most beloved and popular comic book characters.

DC versus the Lawyer

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Even lawsuits get spin-off miniseries.  In Los Angeles on Friday Marc Toberoff asked a judge to dismiss the complaint filed against him personally last May in connection with the long-running legal battle between DC and the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over reclaiming copyrights.

DC claimed Toberoff was manipulating Siegel and Schuster’s heirs “in an effort to capture a huge share of the copyrights for himself.”

In asking the United States District Court for the Central District of California to dismiss the complaint, Richard B. Kendall, a lawyer for Mr. Toberoff, called it “an absolutely meritless attack” that was meant to undermine Mr. Toberoff’s relationship with the Siegel and Shuster heirs in the wake of a previous victory in court over DC Comics.

Kendell wants the suit dismissed under California’s anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) laws which are meant to prevent intimidating counter-suits.

Toberoff claims he wasn’t involved until negotiations had already ended between the heirs and DC in 2002.  From DC’s filings:

Perhaps most intriguing about DC Comics’ suit against Toberoff was the inclusion of an unsigned document, called the “Superman-Marc Toberoff Timeline,” that spelled out a series of tactics on the part of Toberoff through which he purportedly claimed as “much ownership of the Superman copyright personally as he can.”

The DC suit says that the document was written by an attorney previously employed at Toberoff’s firm. It was delivered to Warner Bros. in 2006 along with a pile of other files that Toberoff says were privileged attorney client documents stolen from his firm.

Toberoff is also assisting the estate of Jack Kirby in their lawsuit against Marvel.  A hearing in the case is set for October 18.

Leave the Strength, Take the Flight

The fight between the Siegel estate and DC comics get’s weirder and weirder.  In the ongoing battle between the two Judge Stephen Larson issued a ruling Wednesday that grants rights to additional works Variety reports.

The first two weeks of the daily Superman newspaper comic strips, as well as portions of early Action Comics and Superman comic books are now back in control by the Siegels.  The Siegels now control depictions of Superman’s origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-L and Lora, his infancy as Kal-L, the infamous launching of his escape ship and his landing on Earth after Krypton explodes.

In 2008 the Siegels had the rights to the basis of the Superman character (his costume and alter-ego), Lois Lane, the Daily Planet, and the love triangle of Clark/Superman and Lois (this one seems silly to me).

DC still owns Superman’s ability to fly, kryptonite (really I’d ssay his weakness now is lawyers), Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White, his vision powers and expanded origins.

This all stems from Superman’s first appearance in 1938 and how the original deal between Siegel, Schuster, and DC was worked out.

What still needs to be determined is how much DC owes the Siegels from profits from Superman since 1999, when the Siegels gained half of the Superman copyright.  Schuster does not have any rights and thus does not retain any rights (bummer dude).

Copyright law dictates that full ownership of Superman reverts back to the Siegels in 2013 (I’d expect a massive offer from Marvel to try to steal the character away, at least I’d do it if I were in charge), which forces DC’s hand to produce a new Superman movie and even a Justice League movie into production by 2011.

But my question is who gets Mr. Myxzptlk in the divorce?

Joker Creator a Political Activist!?

Wizard’s website covers the story, but here’s the highlights:

  • The Joker was created by Batman artist and political cartoonist Jerry Robinson
  • Robinson launched a media campaign to free the imprisoned Uruguayan political cartoonist Francisco Laurenzo Pons
  • Organized a major syndicate for editorial artists to control their own work
  • Helped Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster get a much needed financial settlement and their byline restored on their famous creation Superman
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