Art by Dave Sim, for a charity auction to benefit The Joe Shuster Awards
(on being asked by editor, Kevin Dooley, to contribute his thoughts and a drawing to Amazing Heroes magazine's celebration of Superman's 50th anniversary taking place on 29 February 1988 - from Note From The President, Cerebus #108, March 1988)
Superman, as originally conceived, as a force for the common man, as an answer to the mindless tyranny with which his name (as a term) had come to be identified, as a foe of corruption and injustice, as the embodiment of FDR-style liberalism and the epitome of the notion that one individual can, should and must, of necessity, make a difference; in all this Superman... Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Superman... the only true Superman... stands as a beacon of freedom shining as brightly for an adult who holds the ideals of the character sacred as he does for a child seeing him and learning them for the first time. As a symbol of the nearly limitless power of imagination, he has inspired creators for five decades to take up pen and brush in pursuit of excellence, to weave our tapestry once more. To aspire; that one day we might know a tenth... a hundredth of the greatness implied in knowing you are Jerry Siegel. You are Joe Shuster. You are the creators of Superman. And that no monumental and tragic injustice can strip you of that mantle. As comic book creators, this is our greatest heritage... and our greatest debt.
...Sure. I'll do a picture of Superman and get Gerhard to put the Fortress of Solitude behind him. We'll make money. And we can send it to Kevin Dooley. And he can print it and he can make money. Then we'll send copies to the distributors right, Kev? And they can make money. Then we'll get the distributors to send them to the shops and they can make money. And the Beast 666 Fifth Avenue gets free advertising for whatever the latest crop of Jerry Siegel ghost-writers and Joe Shuster ghost-artists are churning out.
Kevin, if I thought seriously of all the delight I've gotten from the original Superman, the real Superman, I would probably go mad from the injustice that has been done to Siegel and Shuster all of their lives. The millions that would be theirs today had they been dealing with honourable people instead of scum who aren't fit to breathe the same air as them. That any creative person would be a party to praising an injustice compounded year upon year, decade upon decade is an example of vile hypocrisy and insidious and destructive self-loathing on the part of comic book creators.
...Render unto me a fucking break, Dooley.