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Film, Comic Books
This morning Mark Evanier showcases an incredible piece of comic-book history: home-movie footage from Superman Day at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair (the same exposition that introduced the Trylon and Perisphere, which in ’80s DC Comics served as the headquarters of the All-Star Squadron).
It’s notable certainly for the glimpses of such figures identified by Evanier as Jerry Siegel, Harry Donenfeld, Max C. Gaines and Jack Liebowitz, but also as testimony to the swiftness with which the Man of Steel made an impact on popular culture: Superman Day, with its races, elephant rides, parade and boys wearing S shields, was held July 3, 1940, roughly two years after the release of Action Comics #1. Granted, by the time of the event, the Adventures of Superman radio serial had been airing for about five months, but still …
Evanier has more on his blog, including doubts as to whether the man in the Superman suit is actually the actor some have long thought.
The $412 check written in 1938 by Detective Comics to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for, among other things, the rights to Superman sold last night at auction for a whopping $160,000. The piece of paper has been described as “the most important $412 in comics history” and “possibly the most important pop-culture artifact known to exist.”
“The concept of the superhero was born with Superman,” Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of auction website ComicConnect, told Reuters. “That $130 check essentially created a billion-dollar industry.”
Signed by Publisher Jack Liebowitz, it included $130 for the Man of Steel, with the remaining $282 serving as payment for stories contributed to Detective Comics, Adventure Comics and More Fun Comics. Liebowitz misspelled the last names of both Siegel and Shuster, leading them to endorse the check twice.
Characterized by Matt Fraction as “the most important $412 dollars in comics history,” the check written to a young Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, in part, for the rights to Superman, has surfaced among the items for an upcoming auction.
“Have you ever made a business decision that haunted you?” writer Gerry Duggan tweeted Monday, pointing to images of the check. “This piece of true comics history will make you feel better.”
Indeed that check, written March 1, 1938, by Detective Comics Publisher Jack Liebowitz, has been key to several legal and moral disputes, the first beginning barely a year after its signing. (Bleeding Cool notes an April 6, 1939, stamp on the back for the U.S. District Court of New York, suggesting it was entered as evidence in DC’s copyright-infringement lawsuit against Bruns Publications over the Will Eisner-created Wonder Man.)