Sunday, August 26, 2012

Public speaking as a research tool

Research is time-consuming with no guarantee of yielding anything useful. So it is actually not completely impractical to suggest speaking as a research tool.

I’ve been speaking about Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman (AKA Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster) for almost four years at venues ranging from synagogues to business luncheons; I’m now including Bill Finger in my presentations.

A number of people from audiences I’ve spoken to have come up to me afterward to share a connection they had to Jerry (1914-1996), Joe (1914-1992), or Bill (1914-1974). It’s not a massive tally but given the number of generations back we’re talking, it astounds me.


  • Washington DC, November 2011—a woman whose grandfather worked in the same building as Joe Shuster’s art studio in the 1940s
  • Miami, February 2012—a man whose sister dated Joe Shuster in the 1970s
  • New York, June 2012—a woman who was best friends with the daughter of Bill Finger’s second wife in middle school in the 1960s (have to come up for air on that one)

I did not note at least one or two others who overlapped with Siegel and Shuster at Glenville High School in the early 1930s.

People like this are so peripherally linked to the superhero creators that even the most tenacious writers/researchers may never turn them up on their own.

The more I speak, the more I will likely continue to overlap with people who hobnobbed with comics royalty. And the more people I reach, the more likely I can uncover something no one else would have. We never know where or when the next previously unpublished story or photo will come from…except that it is almost never where you expect it to be.

I did ask all three above if they had relevant photos or other mementos; some believe they do, and if they end up sharing any of it with me as they said they would, I will be posting that material here.

Both of my superhero books are already out there, but as you can see, I’m still adding to the story.