Category Archives: Creating Comics

Julie Schwartz and SUPERMAN 411

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Images © DC Comics, Inc.

On Friday, June 19th, writers Paul Kupperberg and Peter Sanderson both commemorated what would have been the 99th birthday of long-time DC editor Julius Schwartz on Facebook. Peter included the cover above, (this copy signed by Julie himself) the first time I’d seen it in decades. It came out in 1985. I had a hand in the production of the comic, which celebrated Julie’s life on the cover and inside. The entire issue was produced secretly. Julie was the Superman editor and was working on an entirely different story that he thought was going in issue 411.

Meanwhile, writer Elliot S! Maggin and penciller Curt Swan were crafting this tale of an alternate universe where Superman was real, and so was Julie, though his life had taken a very different course. When the story was lettered by John Costanza and inked by Murphy Anderson, it came to me. I was the Assistant Production Manager at DC then, still doing lots of hands-on stuff. I took the pages home to do all the needed production work on the issue: corrections, art touch-ups, pasting in logos and so on. I didn’t dare work on it in the office. Julie was a very involved editor, and he might have popped by the production room to check on his books at any time. I’m not sure who penciled the cover, it was certainly inked by Dick Giordano, who might have also penciled it. When it was ready, I took that home too, doing the cover lettering (top line above the logo, word balloon and UPC box lettering for the direct sale edition), pasted on the trade dress (logo, price box, DC bullet) and everything was photostatted or xeroxed for the colorists, probably Tatjana Wood on the cover and Gene D’Angelo on the interior pages. Finally everyone approved the finished work, and it went off to the printer with Julie none the wiser, though there were some close calls I think.

As Julie remembers in his book “Man of Two Worlds,”:

“So comes the day [of his 70th birthday], and all of a sudden publisher Jenette Kahn’s administrative assistant Carol Fein comes in and says we’re having a special meeting in the conference room. I probably fretted as I walked down the hall wondering what the latest crisis was—and walked into the conference room to discover champagne on ice and Jenette handing me the first copy of SUPERMAN #411, and I see that I am depicted on the cover.” Continue reading

SUPERMAN IN THE SATURDAY EVENING POST June 21, 1941

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Images © Curtis Publishing Company.

America first met Superman in the pages of ACTION COMICS #1 cover-dated June, 1938, after several years of development and failed attempts to sell it as a newspaper strip by creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. He revolutionized the the young comic book publishing market, and by 1941 was selling extremely well in ACTION, SUPERMAN and WORLD’S FINEST COMICS. I’m not sure how long it took journalists to start writing about the character, but an early, historic article appeared in this issue of THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, one of the most popular and important magazines of the time. Among other things, the article gave lots of attention to creators Siegel and Shuster, and included a photo taken in the office of publisher Harry Donenfeld that features the only known image of a famous Superman painting by H.J. Ward before it was revised by another artist. I wanted to read the article and see that original photo for myself for my own blog article about the painting, so I found a copy of the POST on eBay and bought it. Here’s the article in full with comments. Continue reading

A Stanley Kaye Superman Painting Mystery Part 2

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When I received photos of a painting of Superman’s face by Stanley Kaye (above in an uncredited photo) from the owner, Merredith Lowe, I knew little about Kaye’s comics career, but found information in the Grand Comics Database. Kaye began working for National Comics (which became DC Comics) in 1941, with his earliest credits being for spot illustrations, small pictures used to illustrate a one or two-page text story. In 1942 he and writer Alfred Bester created “Genius Jones,” a humorous super-hero series that began appearing in ADVENTURE COMICS #77, cover-dated August 1942. In 1943 he began inking Superman stories and covers drawn by others, and soon became one of the most prolific Superman inkers at the company. Continue reading

A Stanley Kaye Superman Painting Mystery Part 1

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Superman on paper by Stanley Kaye, 1942, courtesy of Merredith Lowe. Superman © DC Comics, Inc.

A few weeks ago I received some photos of the above painting in an email from the owner, Merredith Lowe. Merredith had seen what I wrote about a famous Superman painting by pulp artist Hugh J. Ward that hung for many years in the offices of (then) Detective Comics / National Comics, and now DC Comics. Continue reading