13 August 2008

Single Bounds in Superman Research

At Newsarama, Jeff Trexler has just written about the early correspondence between DC Comics and Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman. An ongoing lawsuit has produced a document dump that's "a gold mine for folks interested in comics history." It's too late for Marc Taylor Nobleman to include this information in Boys of Steel, but then it isn't really picture-book material, anyway.

The DC legal team is releasing these documents letters to show that Siegel and Shuster were taking direction as "work-for-hire" creators during the first decade of Superman comics. So they focus on details that DC wanted Shuster (and his staff) to change, showing who was making the creative decisions. A taste of Trexler's reporting:

Another alleged problem with [Joe] Shuster’s artwork is that it made Superman look gay — or in the period slang of [Whitney] Ellsworth’s January 22, 1940, letter, “lah-de-dah” with a “nice fat bottom.”

What’s worse, the pose in the second panel also reminded Ellsworth of “certain FLIT ads done by a cartoonist who signs himself ‘Dr. Seuss.’”
In other not-safe-for-picture-book Shuster news, Abrams's new ComicArts "sub-imprint" is preparing to publish Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-creator Joe Shuster as one its inaugural titles. In July, Publishers Weekly described these drawings:
an unusual collection of S&M comics secretly created by Superman’s co-creator Joe Shuster. Thought to have been destroyed, the comics were discovered in a shop in Britain by [Craig] Yoe, who has verified that Schuster was the creator. Called Nights of Horror, the comics are fetish fantasies with characters that look just like Clark Kent and Lois Lane. “They’re chained and being whipped and there’s women kissing women,” said Kochman, “It’s a great story and no one ever connected them to Schuster [sic].”
Of course, the people could look like Clark Kent and Lois Lane simply because that was how Shuster drew men and women.

Yoe previously assembled Clean Cartoonists’ Dirty Drawings, which also included some of Shuster's drawings. They were, reportedly, some of the few examples in that book that went beyond the raciness of a Playboy cartoon. Even Robert Crumb complained, and he wrote the book's introduction. Judging by the samples I found on the internet, there's more explicitly depicted sex in the Young Adult Graphic Novels section of my local library.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved the Marc Tyler Nobleman link! I joined a company he worked for shortly after he left so I have heard many stories about this unusual guy!