SIEGEL & SHUSTER 2014 fine art print / special edition of 12 / $215.00

Superman is commonly perceived to be from the Planet Krypton. In fact, his origins point to a more humble beginning in Cleveland.

Jerome Siegel (1914-1996) and Joseph Shuster (1914-1992) were classmates at Cleveland's Glenville HS. The two shy Jewish teens discovered much in common, including a fascination with comic strips and science fiction pulps. Because they had complementary skills (Siegel wrote, Shuster drew), they formed a writer/artist team and pitched ideas to National Allied Publications, who published their first characters, musketeer swashbuckler Henri Duval and supernatural detective Doctor Occult. Their muscular gumshoe Slam Bradley debuted in Detective Comics #1 in 1937.

In the mid-1930s they created an invincible crime-fighter with superhuman powers, calling him "The Superman," but it took several years to develop the character and sell the idea. When the caped crusader debuted as the cover feature in National's Action Comics #1 (June 1938), he was an instant smash, the first superstar superhero. National paid Siegel and Shuster $130 for the character rights, along with a 10-year contract to produce a syndicated newspaper comic version. By cashing that check, Siegel and Shuster forever signed away all rights to Superman.

The pair oversaw the Superman comic books and newspaper strip for a decade, earning a decent salary, while National reaped enormous profits—none of which were shared with Jerry and Joe. In 1946, with the looming expiration of their contract, they sued National over rights to Superman. They were eventually awarded $94,000, though the courts concurred that National had legitimately purchased the character rights along with the first story. Siegel and Shuster were no longer under contract, and National removed their byline from all comic books and newspaper strips.

In the early 1950s, Siegel became comic art director for Ziff-Davis, and wrote comics for a number of publishers. He returned to National's successor company DC Comics in 1959 to write (uncredited) Superman stories until the mid-'60s, when he again unsuccessfully sued over the Superman rights. Shuster's career was more quixotic, and he saw little commercial success from a series of cartooning and illustration projects, eventually having to give up drawing due to failing eyesight.

In 1975, after the announcement that DC's parent company Warner Communications was producing a multimillion-dollar Superman film, Siegel, who had been working as a file clerk, and the near-blind Shuster, along with artists Neal Adams, Jerry Robinson, and others, launched a PR campaign to protest DC's negligence towards Superman's creators. After mounting public pressure, a shamed Warner awarded the duo $20,000 a year for life and a guarantee that the line "Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster" would be added to all future Superman comics, TV shows, and films.

Siegel and Shuster were inducted into the comic book industry's Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993.

Both men would have turned 100 this year. In honor of their legacy, Drew Friedman rendered this portrait of the pair ca. 1939-40 drafting a profile of the Man of Steel. We are offering it here in a very limited edition of twelve (12) artist-signed and -titled fine art prints.

A different portrait of Siegel and Shuster (as older men) will appear in Friedman's forthcoming collection, Heroes Of The Comics: Portraits of the Pioneering Legends of Comic Books, along with such Friedman favorites (and fine art print subjects) as Harvey Kurtzman, Wallace Wood, Al Jaffee, and Will Elder.
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  • U.S. DOMESTIC via USPS Priority: $35
  • HAWAII & ALASKA via USPS Priority mail: $40
  • CANADA via USPS Priority Mail International: $60
  • INTERNATIONAL via USPS Priority Mail International: $75
Only twelve (12) prints of JERRY SIEGEL & JOE SHUSTER were produced for this edition. Each print is signed in the lower right by the artist, hand-titled in the center, and numbered in the lower left (all beneath the image). We have sold print numbers 1/12 thru 6/12, and are now offering print number 7/12, unframed, for $215 (plus shipping and handling). Prices for remaining prints will increase until the edition is sold out.

The image area is 16" high x 11-1/2" wide centered on an untrimmed 19" x 13" sheet. Paper, ink, and production specifications, as well as shipping details, are available on our PRINT SPECS page.