Superman and the common man

January 22, 2007 § 1 Comment

ImageTexT: Exhibits: Exhibit 1: Superman

Superman sprang from the imagination of two Jewish teenagers growing up in Cleveland during the Great Depression. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were both lower-middle class sons of immigrants who believed in the American dream. They were avid readers of science fiction and pulp magazines and aspired to write and draw their own adventure comic strip. In 1934, the two hit upon the idea they hoped would be a salable comic strip. In his striking red-and-blue costume with flowing red cape and red “S” emblazoned on his chest, Superman was the ultimate strongman, capable of achieving almost any physical feat. He was a fantastic being from a doomed planet (Krypton), come to be in the service of his adopted world. He assumed the persona of an undistinguished mild-mannered newspaper reporter named Clark Kent. Superman was a superhero who would retreat into the anonymity of American society when his spectacular deeds were accomplished. Here was the crucial point of reference for a Depression-era culture that extolled the virtues of the “common man.”


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