Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Jerry Siegel Race, part 1 of 3

Today in 1938, Action Comics #1 went on sale. A story in honor of the 72nd anniversary of the debut of Superman:

Jerry Siegel had a fast dream in Cleveland. More than seventy years later, I had a fast dream about Cleveland. Jerry’s was about Superman. Mine was about Jerry. As of now, only his has blossomed.

Once upon a Depression, as told in Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, Superman caused insomnia (not the other way around).

On a hot night during the summer of 1933, young writer Jerry tried to sleep but had persistent visions of a hero that could do things no previous one could, such as lift cars and leap one-eighth of a mile. (Flying came a few years later.) Jerry kept hopping out of bed to record each new aspect as it occurred to him.

Come dawn, he tugged his clothes on over his pajamas and bolted the 9.5 blocks to the apartment of fellow teen Joe Shuster. (In some interviews, Jerry said 12 blocks, but I measured the distance myself. In this case, odometer trumps memory.) Jerry showed his artist friend his notes and asked him to draw what he’d conceived.

Thus was born an idea that would change a world (this one, and perhaps others).

When I was brainstorming ways to promote Boys of Steel and to bring some Superman pride to the now-hurting Glenville neighborhood where this pop culture milestone took place, I was hit with an idea that I felt could do both.

A race from Jerry’s to Joe’s.

Just like Jerry did while toting history in his hands.

Continued in part 2.

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