This month marks the start of the 75th anniversary of the launch of Action Comics #1. The cities of Cleveland and Metropolis will be staging their own celebrations. A new movie is coming down the pipeline. An old musical is being revived. DC is marking the milestone with new comics. Even the Jewish community has taken notice. In all the commotion, it’s sometimes easy to forget the humble nerds who were full of naive hope when they conceived what would prove to be one of America’s most enduring icons, during the days of the Great Depression:
Joseph Shuster: We were both great science-fiction fans, reading Amazing Stories and Wonder Stories in those days.
Jerome Siegel: When Joe and I first met, it was like the right chemicals coming together. I loved his artwork… I thought he had flair – though he was a beginner – I thought he had the flair of a Frank R. Paul, who was one of the best science-fiction illustrators in the field.
Shuster: And I was an avid reader of H.G. Wells –
Siegel: Right… Joe as well as I; and we were both reading the same type of material.
Joanne Siegel: In fact, the three of us were destined to meet, because we were kids all playing at being grown up, trying desperately to be grown up. And since that first day of our friendship, we’re still together…
― From a 1983 interview published in Nemo #2.
… So I ask you to please consider – do these mean spirited tactics meet with your approval? Do you really think the families of Superman’s creators should be treated this way?
As you know, DC and Warner Bros. have profited enormously from 72 years of exploiting Jerry and Joe’s wonderful creation. Superman is now a billion dollar franchise and has been DC’s flagship property for all this time.
― Joanne Siegel in a 2010 open letter to Jeffrey L. Bewkes of Time Warner Inc. regarding the corporation’s actions directed towards the Shuster and Siegel families during their protracted legal battle to reclaim the rights to Superman.
For the three of them, this was their never-ending battle.
And it’s something worth remembering.