If there’s one artist who it can be said defined Superman to the point where their name is synonymous with the character than that artist must surely be Curt Swan. Swan began drawing Superman in the mid 1950s and he remained the number one artist for the many Superman titles until his services were dispensed with when John Byrne took the character over in 1987. Indeed, at the time, it was almost impossible to imagine a Superman comic being produced by DC that didn’t feature Swan’s pencils, but all good things must come to an end eventually – and it’s not like Swan just faded away. His last Superman story was promoted as being the last ever ‘classic’ Superman story, written by Alan Moore and inked by George Perez and Murphy Anderson. Moore later stated that it working with Swan was magical for him and in the official Swan biography speaks glowingly of the man. As farewells go they don’t get much better than that.
I dropped by the Smithsonian when I was in Washington one day this past June to see the new Superman exhibit. Like other Americans who will visit the museum during the exhibits year-long run, I have a certain fondness for the Man of Steel. He and I go back a long way. For 30 years or so, from around 1955 until a couple of years ago when I more or less retired, I was the principal artist of the Superman comic for DC Comics.