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Al Plastino’s original artwork for the 1964 story “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy” is at last on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where the late artist thought it had been for the past five decades.
“We are just thrilled that these came home to where they belong,” his daughter MaryAnn Plastino Charles, who traveled from Alabama to Boston to see the art, told The Associated Press. “This has been a long time coming. My father thought for so many years that it was here.”
A prolific Golden Age artist who passed away Nov. 25 at age 91, Plastino was surprised to discover at New York Comic Con a month earlier that the pages hadn’t been given five decades earlier to the library, as he’d been led to believe, but were instead set to be sold at auction by a private owner on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Plastino spent the last weeks of his life campaigning for the return of the artwork, leading Heritage Auctions to put the sale on hold until questions about ownership could be resolved; in December, DC Comics purchased the art for donation to the library.
Originally intended for publication in November 1963 to promote Kennedy’s physical fitness program, the story was quickly pulled following the assassination, and other material substituted. President Lyndon Johnson’s staff later asked DC to publish the original, which was edited to add a commemorative page showing Superman saluting a ghostly image of Kennedy.
Although Plastino was a prolific artist who drew Superman comics for two decades, in the process co-creating characters like Supergirl, Braniac and the Legion of Super-Heroes, his children said he was most proud of this story.
“He would talk about it all the time,” MaryAnn Plastino Charles told The AP. “This is the story he told at Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthdays.”
The pages are on display at the library through May 31.