Thumb Ellsworth-Lois LaneJeff Trexler has been digging through the exhibits in the Siegel vs WB case, and found lots of disturbing correspondence between Detective Comics and Jerry Siegel from 1939 through 1947, including talk of a gay looking SUperman with a fat bottom, and a Lois Lane who was way too buxom.

Even apart from the gender issues there’s a lot of amazing stuff here–the recurring savage criticism of Joe Shuster’s art; an early critique of Wayne Boring as an artist unsuitable for Superman; the hiring of Winsor McCay, Jr. as Superman ghost-artist-in-training; the insinuation that Superman was not significantly more popular than Zatara, Pep Morgan and Tex Thomson; and the prohibition on depictions of a flying Clark Kent are just a few of the historical moments in the mix.

§ This leads Valerie to muse:

I really have to wonder, in that early stage of the comic book industry, if Siegel & Shuster saw their work in a very personal way — as indy comic creators who own the rights to their own work today feel — or was it just a business thing? Did they want to grow as creators, did they want to take Superman to new places creatively & content-wise? When they saw completely different teams handle their work, did they feel outraged, or heartsick, like it was “their baby?” When they read letters where their work was summarily dismissed — and dissed — did they take it personally?

And did resentment over these letters — some of which were pretty harsh, even for standard editorial criticism — help fuel Siegel’s many decades of fighting over the character he helped create? Did these documents, in some of which he was talked down to as if he was a hick or a child, make everything more personal?


  1. I think it’s worth noting that superhero comics were being run by people who objectify women from their very outset. Although, that seems to be only one of many of these guy’s problems.

  2. This abuse was heaped on creators even after Siegel and Schuster left. Wayne Boring and Jim Shooter both tell horrific stories of their treatment by Superman editor Mort Weisinger. There’s even a story told of how famed SF writer Ed Hamilton stood up to Weisinger and told him off after hearing how he was berating Jerry Siegel. Actually, after reading the commentary, the language sounds like something Weisinger would say.

  3. There’s plenty of proof that DC didn’t have the answers themselves as exidenced by the stupid plots they had him follow for a long period of time. Many other artists haven’t done a bang up job on him either. In Swan’s art the “S” stands for spare tire. Fortunately the character’s longevity allowed other artists and writers to come in and improve things.