Just before he died a few days ago, Golden Age artist Al Plastino got a lot of ink for what seemed like a sad story: in 1963, he drew a comics story featuring JFK and Superman extolling fitness that was canceled when President Kennedy was shot. Although the story eventually ran, Plastino was told the art would be given to the JFK library at Harvard following JFK’s death. Imagine Plastino’s shock 50 years later when he saw the pages instead on Or was it? Now, Mark Waid has theorized that the pages donated to the Kennedy Museum were actually the “Grassy Knoll” version of the story, one drawn by Curt Swan.
Found it. Superman 168. I believe the mix-up is that the actual pages donated were the Swan version, as seen here: pic.twitter.com/eG8rd9XUYF
— Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) October 28, 2013
The Swan version was seen in a story about the tale printed in the New York Times. But did it ever exist? Mark Evanier has now come along with largely circumstantial, but still convincing ratiocination that suggests a second timeline:
I am a bit suspicious it was ever slated for any issue around this time. The story was ten pages. If they yanked it at the last minute and substituted another story, then the issue in question would have a different ten-page story in it. But #166, #167 and #168 all had book-length stories in them and #169 had three stories — one eight pages in length, one fourteen and one five. So where would a ten-page story have appeared? In each case, the cover of the comic in question went to press several weeks before the insides and the covers were specific to the stories inside. So there couldn’t have been a last-minute switch of the interiors for a ten-page story in any of them.
You’ll need to read the entire Evanier post to get to the bottom of the mystery, but it involves a publicity-hungry editor, and an older man’s failing memories.
And what happens next will SHOCK YOU. While we may never get to the bottom of this footnote of comics history, it’s still a fascinating yarn.
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.