- Megan Bingham
It's a bird . . . it's a plane . . . it's Siegel and Shuster!
Shy Cleveland teen Jerry Siegel loves to read comic books. During the Great Depression, superheroes such as Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers kept the nation afloat through difficult and dangerous times. Jerry struggled with more emotional turmoil than others, especially when his father passed from a heart attack during an after-hours robbery in his clothing store. For the most part, Jerry was ignored through high school, declaring he had no interest in "everyday-teenage things," such as playing baseball and kissing girls. To keep his mind occupied, Jerry wrote his own adventure and science fiction stories.
Joe Shuster could have passed for Jerry's brother; they looked so much alike. Just like Jerry, Joe was not into "everyday teenage-things," either. He, too, escaped to other worlds through drawing. Joe used a breadboard to draw on in his kitchen, using wrapping paper or discarded butcher paper. In the winter, the Schusters' apartment had no heat, and Joe would often wear gloves while he was drawing.
Many believed Jerry and Joe were wasting time writing about and drawing imaginary superheroes. But Jerry had a plan: if he and Joe could come up with a new superhero, maybe they could sell it to a newspaper. Late one summer night in 1934, Jerry thought of an idea for an everyday superhero: one who looked and acted like a human but had superhuman strength like strong men Hercules and Samson. However, he would not be a man but an alien. The hero would have enough confidence to speak to women and would have a normal job at a newspaper franchise. After Joe drew up a concept, they both decided an "S" in the middle of the hero's chest would stand for "Super"—and for "Siegel" and "Shuster."
For three whole years, Jerry and Joe's superhero concept was turned down by publishers until a new company (eventually called DC Comics) decided to pick it up. Superman debuted in 1938, and his comic book was an instant hit. Soon, he was in books, on the radio, and in movie serials. When television was created, Superman picked up a show there, too.
In Marc Tyler Nobleman's Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, the inspiring yesteryear story of two lonely but extremely talented teens comes to light. It celebrates their amazing career through the first-ever picture book on the heroes who created one of the first and greatest superheroes of all time. Boys of Steel received multiple star reviews and was named an American Library Association Notable Book. Due to discoveries that Mr. Nobleman made in his research, the book also landed on the front page of USA Today.