Share It

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"Sad Sack and Superman" - Jerry Siegel Goes To War

As many people are aware, Superman's co-creator, Jerry Siegel, served in the army during World War II, and he wasn't alone.  Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Joe Sinnott, Sheldon Moldoff, Dick Ayers, Ross Andru, Ben Oda - even Roy Lichtenstein served in the armed forces, thus proving that comic book artists and writers weren't exempt from the call up.  Possibly the most famous of them all was Jack Kirby, who faced some real battles, including landing at Normandy as part of D-Day and taking part in the siege of Bastogne (the latter made famous in the TV series Band Of Brothers).  Jerry's own war experiences weren't as ferocious as Kirby, or even Andru who also served in the European theatre, but he was a veteran, and when you look at what it meant to the Army to have Superman's creator on board, it becomes obvious as to why he never faced any real danger.  Joe Shuster had it easier - his bad eyesight kept him out of the war, but DC kept him busy, drawing, and pumping out Superman propaganda at every turn.

The Armed Forces Newspaper trumpeted the fact that Superman, in the form of Jerry Siegel, was touching down to save the day, along with Richard 'Dickie' Moore, one of the Our Gang kids who, at the ripe old age of eighteen, was already all but washed up in Hollywood - the army could only do his career good, and it did get him some more movie roles, but don't feel sorry for him - he does hold the dubious distinction of being the first person to kiss Shirley Temple on the silver screen.  Somehow with Dickie Moore and Superman on board, you sense that the Americans were never intending to lose.

So how difficult was Jerry's army life?  When you read the following letter that he sent to Jack Liebowitz in early 1944, he spent most of time writing PR for the army and getting ready to serve as an entertainer.  He might well have lamented the fact that he had to sleep in a tent with four other men, but, compared to the likes of Kirby who was doing it tough in a foxhole with frostbite gnawing at his legs, he really had nothing to worry about.  Thankfully Marc Tyler Nobleman has managed to dig up two photos of Jerry Siegel in uniform, combined with these artefacts, we're one step closer to knowing what Jerry really did in zee war.   And, as an added bonus, the keen-eyed amongst you will also see the Batman reference in the newspaper...

2 comments:

rnigma said...

Not only do you have "Superman's old man" in that paper, you also have the Joker... aka Cesar Romero!

Daniel Best said...

Well spotted! Well done mate!