‘Superman’ co-creator Joe Shuster was born on this day in 1914

July 10, 2010 | 5:03 p.m.

Jerry Seigel Joe Shuster The Superman 

It was 96 years ago Saturday that Joe Shuster was born in Toronto and it was 18 years ago this month that he died in Los Angeles.

Action Comics 1 DC Joe Shuster Shuster and his high-school classmate Jerry Siegel famously caught pop-culture lightning in a bottle in the 1930s when they created Superman but, sadly, they couldn’t hold that lighting very long.

Their brainchild became a massive brand name for corporate America and through the years the pair endured heartache, money woes and legal disappointments as their Man of Steel flew away and into film, television, toy stores, etc.

Above is an early version of the character — this incarnation was offered to a company called Consolidated Book Publishing in 1933 without success and Shuster, the illustrator in the creative duo, became so frustrated he put a match to all of the original art. The cover shown above was rescued from the fire by Siegel.

In the summer of 1938, the more familiar version of the hero arrived on newsstands in the pages of “Action Comics” No. 1. It was a sensation. Superman became a comic-strip the following year, a radio show in 1940 and reached theaters as a cartoon in 1941. Today, Warner Bros is preparing to launch a new Superman film franchise and the television series Smallville just completed its ninth season. Earlier this year, a copy of “Action” No. 1 was auctioned off for a $1 million, meaning the owner of that comic book likely made more money off the Man of Steel in a single day than Shuster did in his entire lifetime. Up, up and away..

— Geoff Boucher


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ART: DC Comics

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