@amouria I don’t know Larry or much about him at all, and his other books are about like JFK and baseball, but we are friends and he is very important to me.
My impression is that there’s no good scholarship on the DCEU out there yet, but my search continues. Maybe the Lois Lane book mentions it in passing, but there’s woefully little written about the DCEU and I think that’s mostly because for whatever reason literary critics are not habitually hired to write about comics or comic book adaptations. My collection is majority history, which is useful to a degree but honestly falls super short when these historians try to interpret literary narratives and tropes. It’s just not their expertise.
If anyone turns anything better up, I’m always on the lookout!
So in today’s discussion a particular line I see really stands out:
Jerry and Joe created the “champion of the oppressed” but you guys need to understand that they truly were trying to impress a girl. It all came back to her.
It’s interesting because to me, I’m always under the impression that Siegel created Superman because he wanted a hero to protect his father - who died during a robbery.
Now I’m not saying that’s the truth everyone needs to listen to. Sadly, my country is very limited about this kind of content so I’ve never had the chance to read Brad Ricca’s book, I’ll definitely put that on my list next time I order comics overseas. However, I’ve had the fortune to read another book called “Superman: The High-flying history of America’s most enduring hero“ by Larry Tye. In my opinion, it’s also a very well researched and thoughtful book that not only focuses on Superman’s creator but also his evolution through the time as well. Here are some of my favourite parts:
“One man asked to see a suit, then walked out without paying; another blocked the owner’s path. Michel, a slight man whose heart muscle was weaker than he ever knew, fell to the floor […] Jerry, the youngest, took the loss of his father the hardest. The boy who had been bullied was bereft. Sitting on his dad’s knee and being rocked up and down had been one of Jerry’s few safe havens. “Bliss,” he called it later. “Supreme rapture.” Now his father was gone.
The world of make-believe seemed more alluring than ever to Jerry, who was not quite eighteen. What had been a series of disparate characters with no focus or purpose now merged into a single figure who became an preoccupation. He called him “The Super-Man”. Jerry’s first story, written shortly after his father’s death, envisioned the figure figure as endowed with exceptional strength, telescopic vision, the capacity to read minds, and a resolve to rule the universe. Over the months that followed, this character would drop “the" and the hyphen, along with his evil inclinations, becoming simply Superman - a bulletproof avenger who beat back bullies, won the heart of girls and used his superpowers to help those most in need. And who, in the only artwork that survives from that first imagining, soars to rescue of a middle-aged man being held up by a robber.”
Also another favourite:
“Ah, you say, the Man of Steel - I know him! But do you really? Do you know the wrenching story of his birth and nurturing at the hands of a parade of young creators yearning for their own absent fathers? The first was the youngest child of Lithuanian immigrants who was devastated when his father died during a robbery. While there was no bringing back his father and role model, Jerry Siegel did bring to life a hero able not just to run fast and jump high but, as we see early on, to fend off a robber. Who would publish this fanciful tale? How about Jack Leibowitz, a hardheaded comic book entrepreneur whose own dad had died just after he was born and who needed a champion? Whitney Ellsworth, the man who wrote, edited, and produced nearly all episodes of the 1950s TV show that introduced many baby boomers to this costumed hero, was just fourteen when he lost his forty-five-year-old father to a heart attack. George Reeves, TV’s original Clark Kent and Superman, didn’t even know who his real father was until he was twenties. Who better to create the ultimate childhood fantasy figure than men whose childhoods had been stolen from them?”
And that, is always what I think about the creation of Superman.