From The Vaults: Siegel & Shuster 1941

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I've kept up an active interest in both Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster since the long running court case over the ownership of Superman. That case is now long finished and belongs to the ages, but my interest still runs high, and, I believe this is rightly so. After all the pair did create the most iconic of all superheroes, Superman, along with a lot of the associated characters and mythos that are still in use today by DC Comics.

The problem with writing, and also reading, about Siegel and Shuster is maintaining a sense of impartiality. It's easy to be caught up in the unfairness of what happened to the pair, just the same as it's easy to blame them, especially Jerry, for making some horrendous business decisions. There is enough blame to be apportioned on both sides of the fence, and certainly the unethical business dealings of those at DC Comics, in particular the likes of Harry Donenfeld who first ousted Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson from the company that he created and then wrote him out of their history, led the way. Ironically it was Donenfeld who would take credit for Superman for years to come.

Before all of the agony, recriminations, accusations, envy and poverty there were what must have been some genuine highlights and thrills for Jerry and Joe. These were often reported in newspapers around the world and I've decided to undertake a search of some of the more positive to show that Jerry and Joe were far from forgotten, far from being removed from the creation of Superman, as some might want people to believe. In the pre-WWII years, Jerry and Joe were often in the newspapers. Superman was newsworthy, he was an incredibly popular character, whose only rival would have been Mickey Mouse for instant reckonablity amongst youth.

And riding high on that wave were Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

The following two pages come from The Winnipeg Tribune (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), and were published on Saturday, 13 September, 1941. What makes this article very interesting is the mention of the payment of $130 for the creation by Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz. Even in 1941 it was known that the two got somewhat of a raw deal, and there was no reason not to put that into print. If anything Donenfeld and Liebowitz saw their buying of Superman as something to be celebrated and an example of good business sense that showed just how shrewd they really were.

There's a lot more to come.


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