The original Comic Book Super Hero
Probably the most famous superhero creation around the world, the red and blue cape and tights of Superman is the most imitated and parodied character in comic books and the go-to hero for the same reason elsewhere in pop culture.
Jerome Jerry Siegel created the character following the creation of a different "villain" character with the same name had been used in a story ("Reign of the Super-Man") that Siegel wrote for the third issue of a self-published fanzine called "Science Fiction" (issue #3, 1933).
Teaming with school friendand artist Joe Shuster, Siegel and Shuster tried unsuccessfully to get their revised hero "Super-Man" into print for six years before it finally appeared in a reworked form in Action Comics #1 (June 1938) this version of Superman was the third one, but the first to have the trademark cape. The following year, Siegel & Shuster began the syndicated Superman comic strip. (Siegel also created the The Spectre during this same period.)
Lois Lane was based upon Siegel and Shuster's friend (and artist model) Jolan Kovacs (born December 1, 1917 in Cleveland, Ohio). Jerry Siegel later married Jolan (by then 'Joanne') in 1948.
The Siegel and Shuster families have had a long ongoing battle over the Superman Copyright : read a timeline of the whole affair here.
[Photo below via Wikipedia: Photo taken by Alan Light in 1976 at the San Diego Comic Con - Jerry Siegel and; his wife Joanne (was the model for Lois Lane). Also shown is their daughter, Laura Siegel Larson]
"Once convinced of the individual hero's existence there came a need to place him in his society. We couldn't believe that Superman was unique – after all, he came from a whole planet of supermen. And we couldn't believe that he would be content to associate forever and exclusively with people as mundane as reporter Lois Lane and editor Perry White. Sometime, somewhere, even Superman must yearn for the companionship of his fellows, his comrades, his peers."
From A Swell Bunch of Guys, by Jim Harmon, publishing in All In Color For A Dime, 1970, Ace Books.
Protesting legal harrasment over Superman copyrights
March 28, 2011
"Do you really think the families of Superman’s creators should be treated this way?"
The Deadline Hollywood movie web site by Nikki FInke has a copy of the letter Joanne Siegel (Superman creator Jerry Siegel's wife and as she is usually identified "The model for Lois Lane") wrote before her death in February (age 93) protesting Warner Bros continued legal maneuvers despite losing the fight over the Superman copyrights. Below is a part of what Nikki Finke wrote, the full letter is at her web site here.
"Today Lois Lane was cast for Warner Bros' Superman movie reboot. So it's fitting to note that, on February 12th, the widow of Superman co-creator Jerome Siegel died of heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital at age 93. While much has been made of the fact that she was the model for Lois Lane, Joanne Siegel also was a driving force along with the estate of Joe Shuster to recapture the entire original copyright to Superman. The Siegel heirs have already been awarded half the copyright for Superman. And in 2013 the Shuster heirs get the remaining half. After that, neither DC Comics nor Warner Bros will be able to use Superman without a financial agreement with the Siegels and Shusters. There are also stipulations on what parts of the origins story can be used in future Superman movies and which require re-negotiations with the creators' heirs or estates. But Warner Bros keeps fighting the Siegel and Shuster heirs..."
Related: Disney vs the Jack Kirby Estate
Related: Comic Book Reviews
Original page March 21, 2013 | Updated May 25, 2021