Saturday, June 15, 2013

I tried to reach Jerry Siegel

In 1994, I set out to write a screenplay about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Joe had died in 1992, but Jerry was still alive. I asked Dennis Dooley if he knew how I could contact Jerry.

Dennis was one of the two editors of Superman at Fifty!: The Persistence of a Legend! (1987), and
he also wrote the first (and, to me, best) of the sixteen essays in the book, “The Man of Tomorrow and the Boys of Yesterday” (an earlier version of which appeared in the 6/73 issue of Cleveland Magazine). 

A few observations about the book:

  • It was published by Octavia Press of Cleveland, which does not seem to be around anymore. Though Superman is a Cleveland story, I imagine the reason Octavia published the book is because no well-known publishers wanted to.
  • The cover is static and amateurish. Today, any such book would have a far more dynamic cover design.
  • The headline also seems dated. Today, the headline would be something brasher and more specific like “The History, Culture, and Influence of the Man of Steel, the World’s First and Greatest Superhero.”
  • Harlan Ellison contributed an essay in which he wrote that there were five characters whom everyone on the planet knew: Mickey Mouse, Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Robin Hood, and Superman.

I don’t remember how I found Dennis, but this was pre-Internet, so it probably involved the phone book.

His response was both kind and disappointing:



The me of now would not have let such a letter deter me, but the me of then decided to abandon the Jerry and Joe project. A decade later, however, I revived it—that time, as a picture book. The Boys of Yesterday became the...


But alas, by then, Jerry, too, was no longer around to see it.

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