21 May 2009

Hey Kids! Comix!

I imagine that there is no more cautionary a tale in comicdom than that of Toronto-born Joe Shuster. Things seemed to have got off to such a good start (though perhaps not quite as swell as is portrayed in the Historica Minute): kid cartoonist Joe and his writer friend Jerry Siegel create Superman and spend several years flogging the character before finding a home with Detective Comics Inc. Then they make the mistake of selling their creation for US$130. Never mind, for the next ten years the pair rake in big bucks working for DC, until they take their employer to court in an ill-fated effort to win back the rights.

Shuster's entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia tells us that he was fired and 'stopped drawing completely.' It's a sloppy error. Shuster and Siegel went on to create Funnyman, a 'two-fisted howlarious scrapper' that soon appeared in dustbins everywhere. A few years later, having finally parted ways with Siegel, Shuster was reduced to providing fetish art for cheap publications like Hollywood Detective, Rod Rule and, above all, Nights of Horror.

Last month, the multi-talented Craig Yoe published Secret Identity, an entertaining and informative look at Shuster's later artistic endeavours. The most interesting aspect of our countryman's work is the inclusion of characters that resemble members of what DC calls 'the Superman family'. Yoe's cover image features a scantily-clad Lois Lane look-alike whipping a man who resembles Superman. And is this cub reporter Jimmy Olsen putting his hand up Lois Lane's skirt? In a library? For shame.

Nights of Horror was eventually banned, its destruction called for by no less a body than the Supreme Court of the United States. Blame for this censorship rests squarely on the shoulders of the Thrill Killers, a Brooklyn-based group of Jewish neo-Nazis. I kid you not, and direct those interested to Yoe's 23 April interview on NPR's Fresh Air.

1 comment:

  1. A group of Jewish neo-Nazis called the Thrill Killers? Who wouldn't be interested?