Friday, July 11, 2008

Other Jerry Siegels

A tale of marketing madness:

One night I took a break from sensible promotional tactics and Googled "Jerry Siegel." I was not looking for the Jerry Siegel of Boys of Steel. I was looking for any other Jerry Siegel. I found maybe five or six with e-mail addresses online.

And I e-mailed them.

I asked if they knew of their almost-famous namesake.
I heard back from three. None of them deemed me deranged—not to my digital face, anyway:

Jerry Siegel, the dean: "I am very familiar and of course a fan of both the character Superman but also the creators. ... It is interesting how often people ask me if I was the creator of Superman even though that would make me considerably older than I am."

Jerry Siegel, the professor: "I used to watch the old Superman TV show as a kid and enjoyed my namesake's achievement. I have a replica of Superman and a cel from a Superman cartoon and a little Superman doll in my office. When I first came to LA in 1973, they were shooting the Superman movie with (I think) Christopher Reeve. I was called by a couple of reporters who found my name in the phone book. I was introduced for one of my professional talks at the University of Chicago as 'the creator of Superman' and told the person introducing me that that was the best introduction I ever had (even if slightly inaccurate). So me and Jerry go way back."

Jerry Siegel, the photographer: "I was a Superman fan as a kid, but not so much now. Should be considering the name. The other side of the team, Joe Shuster
well, my father was Schuster Siegel."

I found even fewer Joe Shusters and heard back from none.

Two of the subjects of the next four nonfiction picture books I'm working on are quite likely the only people in the world with their respective names. Those cases will necessitate some new form of marketing madness.

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