Novelist Brad Meltzer has a new book out — Book of Lies — which uses the murder of Jerry Siegel’s father when the Superman co-creator was only a teen as a plot element. Apparently the research for the book led Meltzer to discover that the house where Siegel grew up is in bad shape, and he’s started an auction to raise money to pay for some repairs. The auction can be found here. The house is the one where Siegel and Shuster brainstormed their new character…Superman.
“I visited the house for the first time when I was researching the book, and went with [Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter and regular Newsarama contributor] Mike Sangiacomo,” Meltzer tells Newsarama. “My goal was to physically see the room where this kid shot up in bed in the middle of the night and had this idea for a bulletproof man. I went there expecting that I would find a nice little piece of Americana, and it would look like a Norman Rockwell painting, and maybe there would be a flag and an apple pie.”
What Meltzer did find was a rundown house in one of the city’s rougher neighborhoods, a place where adjacent boarded up houses have signs on them that say ‘NO COPPER PIPING INSIDE – PVC ONLY’ in order to prevent people from breaking in a literally tearing the buildings apart while looking for copper pipe to sell at the scrap yards.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the video of the house. Also, Meltzer has sent out a FAQ, which we’ve reproduced under the cut.
What’s this all about again?
Today is the official launch of The Siegel & Shuster Society, with a celebrity charity auction that’ll raise money to preserve the home of Jerry Siegel, creator of Superman. When you go to Brad Meltzer’s charitable website www.OrdinaryPeopleChangeTheWorld.com, you can:
– bid online for original Superman and comic book art and items by top writers and artists
– buy a Siegel & Shuster Society t-shirt (designed by the legendary graphic designer Chip Kidd)
– or just donate to the good cause.
The best way to show it is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25R2kcJxQuc
All proceeds go to the restoration of the Siegel house.
Who’s involved in the auction?
This is a coming together of an entire community. The full list includes: Stephen Colbert, Jim Lee, Brian Michael Bendis, Brad Meltzer, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Joe Quesada, Neil Gaiman, Alex Ross, Dave Gibbons, Jeph Loeb, Murphy Anderson, Ed Brubaker, John Cassaday, Gene Ha, Greg Rucka, George Perez, Michael Turner, Adam Kubert, Andy Kubert, Judd Winick, Frank Cho, Eric Powell, Tim Sale, Walt Simonson, Joe Staton, Eric Wight, Dave Mandel, Mike Mignola, Rags Morales, Bill Morrison, Ivan Reis, John Romita Jr., Jason Palmer, Amanda Conner, Geoff Darrow, Ron Garney, Renato Guedes, Heroes, Dave Johnson, Chris Bachalo, Mike Bair, Allen Bellman, Dan Brereton, Ernie Chan, Travis Charest, and Ian Churchill, YOU, and even Jerry Siegel (see below).
How did this come about?
While researching his new novel, The Book of Lies, Brad Meltzer visited the boyhood home of Jerry Siegel in Cleveland, Ohio, where Superman was created. As Meltzer says, “The house where Google was founded is preserved. The garage where Hewlett Packard was founded is protected. But the house where Superman was born? I was in shock.” After contacting dozens of comic book creators — and thanks to the hard work of many in the city of Cleveland — The Siegel & Shuster Society was created and is dedicated to commemorating and celebrating the creation of Superman in Cleveland by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. “I think sometimes people take things like this for granted because it started in cartoon form, but this is a house were modern mythology was created,” Brain Michael Bendis adds. “Mythology that will never die away or disappear. There is no difference, to me, between this house and Mark Twain’s house. We have to honor and exalt such creation.”
What are the items in the auction?
You can win a walk-on part on Heroes, VIP seats to the Colbert Report, original Superman art (go see the art!), have your name in Bendis or Brubaker or Rucka’s comic, or Meltzer’s next novel. There’s a rare original pre-Superman movie script from Geoff Johns, signed by Richard Donner. And Joanne Siegel told Meltzer that before Jerry Siegel died, he signed six Superman t-shirts that no one ever knew existed — and then told her that if their family ever needed money, she should sell the shirts. Instead, she donated one of them to be auctioned off here. The signature is on a Superman: Quest For Peace(!) t-shirt. C’mon, baby, it’s Jerry Siegel on a Quest for Peace shirt!
What can you do?
Forward the video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25R2kcJxQuc ). Go buy a Siegel & Shuster Society t-shirt. They’re cool. They’re designed by Chip Kidd. They can’t be bought anywhere else. Bid on some of the auctions and spread the word by sharing the video, sigs, and www.OrdinaryPeopleChangeTheWorld.com auction with your facebook, myspace, and live-breathing friends.
How much is the Siegel And Shuster Foundation trying to raise?
Depends on how successful we are. Phase 1 involves working on the exterior of the house: securing the roof, making sure the paint isn’t rotting, doing the concrete work. That will hopefully protect the place from the outside. Joe Shuster’s house (a few blocks away) was in such disrepair, it was torn down. The first goal is to collect $50,000 to deal with the outside. If we do that, then we’ll go and tackle the much-needed-repairs on the inside.
Who lives there now?
The house is located in one of the tougher neighborhoods of Cleveland and is currently occupied by an African-American couple who have lived there for approximately 20 years, who have put up with all of us who have come visiting, but who don’t have the money to do these repairs. Rather than kick anyone out on the street, the goal is to repair this place for them. Why? It’s the right thing to do. In return, The Siegel & Shuster Society has the right to buy the house when it eventually goes up for sale.
Is there a long-term goal to make a museum?
The long-term goal is still being decided, and that’s why you’re invited to join The Siegel & Shuster Society and help us with those plans. Meetings are held monthly in Cleveland — when you buy a shirt, they’ll have your name. But one of the dreams is that one day, buses full of students will drive from all over Ohio, from Michigan, from any nearby state, and come to the fully-restored house — covered and decorated with children’s artwork inside — and see where one of the world’s greatest dreams was born. Go to www.OrdinaryPeopleChangeTheWorld.com to make it happen.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.