• U.S.

Show Business: Man and Superman

2 minute read

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an annuity! Superman has belatedly come to the rescue of his creators. Joseph Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the two cartoonists who introduced the Man of Steel alias Reporter Clark Kent 43 years ago, have lately been living in near poverty—Shuster in New York, Siegel in Los Angeles. In 1938, they signed away their rights to Superman to Detective Comics. It had taken the pair, both now 61, five years to get their idea accepted and they were grateful for the $15 a week Detective paid them to produce the strip. Later, when they sued for return of the copyright, Detective dropped them and hired other cartoonists to work on Superman.

Shuster, who had poor eyesight, could only get menial jobs; Siegel became a clerk-typist. Superman continued to maintain law and order in Metropolis and over the years made a fortune for others. Superman books, TV and radio shows have earned tens of millions of dollars. The first comic book starring Superman currently sells for $3,000. Shuster and Siegel have repeatedly brought suit to share Superman’s millions—but without success. Last spring they simply asked Warner Communications, Inc. (which now owns the copyright) to recognize their moral right to some of the profits. Last week Warner agreed to give the men a $20,000 annuity each.

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