Showing posts with label Superman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Superman. Show all posts

Monday, September 08, 2014

1942 photo of child reading Superman comics found in Library of Congress.

New York, N.Y. Children's Colony, a school for refugee children administered by a Viennese. German refugee child, a devotee of Superman

  • Title: New York, N.Y. Children's Colony, a school for refugee children administered by a Viennese. German refugee child, a devotee of Superman
  • Creator(s): Collins, Marjory, 1912-1985, photographer
  • Date Created/Published: 1942 October.
  • Medium: 1 photographic print.
  • Summary: Photograph shows a boy reading a Superman comic book.
  • Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ds-04108 (digital file from original)
  • Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
  • Call Number: FSA/OWI COLL - D 364 [item] [P&P]
  • Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Thanks to Sara Duke for the tip. Craig Yoe identified it as Superman #19.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weldon discusses Superman on the Kojo Nnamdi show

I've just about finished Glen Weldon's new book Superman: An Unauthorized Biography, and can recommend it. You can listen to him on NPR last week -

Bellantoni, Christina.  2013.
How Superman Explains America.
National Public Radio and WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show (July 9).
online at

and the pictures are from his talk at Politics and Prose yesterday, which was fun. When the bookstore posts the video they shot, I'll add link to it.



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Today: Weldon on Superman at Politics and Prose

Glen Weldon - Superman: The Unauthorized Biography

Jul 14 2013 5:00 pm
Jul 14 2013 6:00 pm

As Superman turns 75, what better time to look back over his life? Weldon, NPR blogger, critic, and comics expert, considers not only the Man of Steel's adventures and achievements, but also his place in the culture as the first, and still most popular, superhero.

ISBN-13: 9781118341841
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 4/2013

5015 Connecticut Ave NW
District Of Columbia
Postal Code:
United States

Monday, June 17, 2013

Superman posters in Crystal City

Tom Spurgeon caught an article in Mother Jones about the use of the Man of Steel Superman movie in National Guard recruitment ads. I should have done something earlier, because I saw one of these posters in Crystal City over a week ago.

Man of Steel - National Guard ad 1

Honestly, the themes don't seem to match up.

Man of Steel - National Guard ad

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Exhibiting the gold in the Golden Age at the Jewish Museum of MD

101_5094 posterThis past weekend I was able to attend the members' preview for the exhibit "ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950." The exhibit has arrived at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in downtown Baltimore and it's well-worth visiting.Curated by the late Jerry Robinson, this exhibit was put together in 2004 by the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, which published a catalogue of the same name.

 Robinson had multiple careers in cartooning including writing a history of comics, being an editorial cartoonist, and starting a syndicate, but he began as a young man in comic books. As a seventeen-year old he began working on Batman as a letterer and inker in 1939. Eventually he became a penciller for the character, and as an employee of what became DC Comics, he met a lot of artists. And thankfully he saved examples of their work, at a time when that behavior wasn't very common.

101_5085 Simon and Kirby
Simon & Kirby cover to Adventure Comics #78
The exhibit is full of original golden age artwork. It contains art by Mort Meskin, Lou Fine, Robinson, Will Eisner, Marc Swayze, Simon & Kirby, Charles Biro, Fred Ray, CC Beck, Fred Ray, Will Eisner, HG Peter, Sheldon Modoff, Bob Fujitani, Lee Elias, Irwin Hasen, Arthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris, Joe Kubert, Reed Crandall, Al Alvison, Carmine Infantino and Frank Frazetta. Many of these are prime pieces.

And many of the writers and artists were Jewish. As comics historian Arnold Blumberg noted in his remarks at the preview, "'s a joy to see the exhibit come to a facility like this and to take a look at it from our unique perspective of what our culture, what our heritage, has given not just to itself, but to the world. The world owns Superman and Batman and all these characters now. Many of them may not have a clue where they came from, who were the kind of people who sat down and created them, but they are now owned by the entire world. They're heroes for everybody and they came from us."

101_5092 Siegel and Shuster autograph
Siegel & Shuster drawing dedicated to Robinson
The exhibit gives a basic history of comic books and characters and biographies of the creators, interspersed with now-priceless art and comic books. Particular attention is paid to World War II of course. Pages of an original Batman script by Bill Finger can be seen - Robinson's estate donated other examples of these to Columbia University this month. Historic highlights include Robinson's artwork for early Batman covers, his original Joker playing card sketch, and a Siegel & Shuster drawing of Superman dedicated to Robinson. A few cases examine the merchandising of Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) and Superman.

This version of the exhibit does have a tricky dichotomy to it. The uncolored, unfinished single pages of comic book artwork will appeal to a mature (elderly, if they bought the titles originally) viewer, while the idea of a superhero largely is aimed at male teens and younger children. This version of the exhibit caters to the very youngest viewers, with a set of tables, chairs and supplies for making cartoons, a replica of Superman's telephone booth with costumes set alongside it, a Batmobile kiddy ride, a newsstand with comics to read on it, and a piece of "Kryptonite"with a recording that warns one not to get to close.

101_5058 newsstand

 I was fortunate to be able to visit the exhibit with local cartoonists. Barbara Dale (of Baltimore), known for her humorous cartoons, fixated on the original Spirit page by Will Eisner and the Frank Frazetta that was next to it, and thought those two pieces made the entire exhibit worthwhile.

101_5070 Eisner
The Eisner Spirit page that impressed Barbara Dale...

101_5071 Frazetta
...and the Frazetta cover that Dale also admired.
101_5090 Lou Fine
Note Wrightson's debt to Lou Fine.
Rafer Roberts (of Fredericksburg) pointed out several things to me - Moldoff's use of gouache to give white highlights on the legs of a monster on Moon Girl #4's cover for EC Comics, Bernie Wrightson's debt to Lou Fine (look at the skeletonized figure on the Hit Comics cover, and Bob Fujitane's use of the traditional iconography of Japanese monsters.

101_5066 Bob Fujitane
Bob Fujitane uses Japanese iconography.

I had seen a previous version of this exhibit in New York at the Jewish Museum there, but it was reworked as an addition to the massive "Masters of American Comics" show. Any fan of comic book history should take the opportunity to see this version of the show at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The catalogue can be bought in the gift shop, along with Superman toothbrushes, Batman lunchboxes and hand-painted superhero yarmelkes. The Museum has produced two curriculum guides for schools and plans lectures throughout the exhibit which runs from January 27 - August 28, 2013, and costs $8 or less. More of my pictures can be seen here.

Monday, May 14, 2012



(Washington, DC) – The History of Invulnerability, David Bar Katz's provocative new drama, brings the origin story of the Superman comic to life, in all its political complexity. Behind every great superhero is a determined creator. In 1930s America, that creator was usually a young Jewish man with an active imagination. Batman, Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk and other iconic cartoon characters were all products of young American Jews.  Bar Katz's play illuminates the story of Jerry Siegel—the brains behind Superman's brawn—and the imagined struggle between the creative father and his uber-mensch son.

The History of Invulnerability runs June 6–July 8, 2012 at Theater J in the Washington DCJCC's Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater. Press night is Monday, June 11 at 7:30 pm. Performances on Saturday, June 9 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, June 10 at 3:00 pm are $30 previews. Performances on Wednesday, June  6 and Thursday, June 7 at 7:30 pm are pay-what-you-can previews. Performances on June 17 and 24 and July 1 and 8 at 7:30 pm are $35 Sunday night specials. On Thursday, June 21 at 7:30 pm the show will have open-captioning for the hearing impaired. There will be special matinee performances at noon on Friday, June 22.  Tickets are available starting at $30 at  or (800) 494-TIXS.

With a new Superman blockbuster film opening in 2013 and the re-release of the Superman comic as "The New 52" by DC Universal in September 2011, The Man of Steel remains an enduring American phenomenon.  As Bar Katz traces the iconic character back to his conception in the mid 1930s, the audience views the action from the inner landscape of creator Jerry Siegel (David Deblinger) who begins his journey in his mother's basement in Clevelend. Frustrated with feelings of powerlessness in the face of the mounting horrors of Nazi Germany, Siegel and illustrator Joe Shuster (David Raphaely) create a being capable of overpowering all enemies. After their Superman comic catches on, the duo's desire to depict Superman slaughtering Nazis is curbed by Harry Donenfeld (Conrad Feininger), the head of DC Comics who purchased the rights to Superman for a mere $130. As Jerry wrestles to retain control of his comic book sensation and his life, America is drawn into WWII.  Interspersed with scenes from Siegel's life is the story of inmates of Birkenau. Audacious Benjamin (David Raphaely) dreams of rebellion, elderly Saul (Conrad Feininger) struggles to keep faith in God, and young Joel (Noah Chiet) waits expectantly for the day when Superman will come to their rescue.  The History of Invulnerability was a finalist for the 2011 ACTA Steinberg New Play Award and the Acclaim Award for "Outstanding Play World Premiere" at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.  Theater J's production marks The History of Invulnerability's East Coast premiere and second production overall.

Artistic Director Ari Roth welcomes The History of Invulnerability to the Theater J stage, remarking "In the tradition of David Mamet, David Bar Katz is a writer of muscular Jews with a wild, robust writing style to match. He's got a number of interesting plays: Philip Roth in Khartoum, [staged at the Public Theatre in 2008] Burning Burning Burning [surrounding Shabbetai Tzvi, the false messiah] and The Atmosphere of Memory [Featuring Ellen Burstyn]. He's a great writer for a new generation, and we're glad to start an ongoing relationship with him."  Bar Katz is a company member of the prestigious LAByrinth Theatre in New York, which includes artists like Philip Seymour Hoffman, who directed the Emmy-nominated HBO presentation of Bar Katz's Oh The Power. Bar Katz also earned two Tony Award nominations for the Broadway production of his play Freak. In an article in CityBeat, Cincinnati, Bar Katz describes himself as a writer who understands the "desire to fight battles in the real world using your fiction."

Director Shirley Serotsky understands this impulse as well, commenting "The desire to will into existence a better place, a better solution, a better being, is a fascinating piece of the Jewish and of the human story." Initially coming from a musical theatre background, Serotsky was struck by the parallels between musical theater and comic books: "Both are uniquely American art forms…dominated by Jews, often first–generation Jews who needed an escape both from the tragedies going on in Europe, and from their own often harsh circumstances in America." As the Director of Literary and Public Programming, and frequent director at Theater J, Serotsky has an extensive background staging stories from the Jewish experience.  Ms. Serotsky's Theater J credits include The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall, The Moscows of Nantucket, Mikveh and next season's The Hampton Years.  Recently, she garnered praise with her production of Birds of a Feather at The Hub Theatre, Blood Wedding at Constellation Theatre Company, and Working at Keegan Theatre.

Serotsky describes her cast as "a gutsy group of actors who are able to embrace both the stylistic world of a comic book and the deeply honest emotions and desires of the characters in this world." They are led by David Deblinger, who garnered rave reviews for his portrayal of Jerry Siegel in Cincinnati Playhouse's world premiere of The History of Invulnerability. Deblinger is one of the founding members of the LAByrinth Theater Company, where he has performed in over 15 productions. He recently appeared in the world premiere of The Killings Room at Teatro Circulo and Animals Out Of Paper at The San Francisco Playhouse. In addition to being a talented actor, Deblinger is also a prolific playwright and solo performer. On June 25, Deblinger will share his work-in-progress Abe's Lucky Penny, which deals with the themes of fathers and sons also raised in The History of Invulnerability.

Playing the brash Harry Donenfeld is Conrad Feininger. Mr. Feininger recently appeared at Theater J in Benedictus, Either/Or and String Fever. A frequent performer at The Shakespeare Theatre, he recently appeared in their productions of King Lear, Richard II, Henry V and All's Well That Ends Well. Other recent credits include Hysteria at Rep Stage and Charming Billy at RoundHouse Theatre. Playing the Man of Steel himself is Tim Getman, fresh from his appearance in After The Fall earlier in the Theater J season.  Getman has also appeared in the Theater J productions Photograph 51, Passing the Love of Women, The Last Seder and as Danny Saunders in Theater J's original production of The Chosen. He recently starred in Gruesome Playground Injuries at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, where he also appeared in The Unmentionables and The Distance from Here.

Also making a second appearance in the Theater J season is Brandon McCoy,  who just reprised his role as Simon in Theater J's encore presentation of New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza.  Playing both Joe Shuster, the illustrator of Superman, and Benjamin, the revolutionary concentration camp inmate is David Raphaely.  One of Philadelphia's most popular young actors, Mr. Raphaely has appeared in productions at The Wilma Theatre, The Arden Theatre Company, The Walnut Street Theatre, PlayPenn, and the Philadelphia Theatre Company.  In the summer of 2010, he was a guest artist in the Theater J/TheatreLab staged readings of Ari Roth's Born Guilty cycle. Jjana Valentiner, who recently gained acclaim playing barmaid Patsy in Sideman at 1st Stage, will play Jerry's mother and other roles. Valentiner's other recent credits include Pride and Prejudice at Round House Theatre; Birds of a Feather at The Hub Theatre;  Fucking A at The Studio Theatre 2ndStage and Tartuffe at the Journeymen Theater Ensemble. She is joined by James Whalen, returning to Theater J after appearing in last season's Voices from a Changing Middle East festival. Mr. Whalen was recently seen in The Shakespeare Theatre Company's production of Cymbeline. He is also a frequent player at Everyman Theatre, where he has appeared in The Exonerated, Betrayal and The Cripple of Inishmaan. Alyssa  Wilmoth, a graduate of the Shakespeare Theatre Company Academy for Classical Acting who recently earned accolades  in No Rules Theatre Company's production of StopKiss will play Superman's paramour, Lois Lane.  Noah Chiet completes
the ensemble as the young boy imprisoned in a concentration camp, dreaming of Superman.  By the age of 12, Mr. Chiet has already gained rave reviews for his turn in Ganeymede Arts' Falsettos and in Liberty Smith at Ford's Theatre. He has participated in two readings at Theater J, and this is his first production.

An all-star design team of Theater J veterans reunite to create the vibrant world of comic books and the equally atmospheric concentration camps. In addition to designing the set for The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall and The Moscows of Nantucket, scenic designer Robbie Hayes has worked on Theater J's Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears. Lighting will be designed by Dan Covey, who also designed lights for Mikveh at Theater J. Debra Kim Sivigny, a veteran Theater J designer (Rise and Fall of Annie Hall, The Moscows of Nantucket and Mikveh) and company member of Rorschach Theatre, will be designing costumes. Returning to Theater J after several seasons is Dre Moore, as Properties Designer. Matthew Nielson (The Whipping Man, New Jerusalem) will create the sound design.

The History of Invulnerability is presented as the annual Arthur Tracy "The Street Singer" Endowment Production honoring the memory and musical legacy of Arthur Tracy, the renowned radio, stage and screen singer and entertainer whose talent delighted millions around the world. Additional funding has been provided by Ann and Don Brown and Judy and Leo Zickler.

Complimenting The History of Invulnerability in the DCJCC Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery will be the exhibit "Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women" opening on June 7. See for more information.

WRITTEN BY: David Bar Katz
DIRECTED BY: Shirley Serotsky
SOUND DESIGNER: Matthew Nielson
DRAMATURG: Stephen Spotswood

FEATURING: David Deblinger, Conrad Feininger, Tim Getman, Brandon McCoy, David Raphaely, Jjana Valentiner,
James Whalen, Alyssa Wilmoth and Noah Chiet

PRESS NIGHT:  Monday, June 11

Regular Schedule:  Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 3:00 and 7:30 pm
$30 Previews:  Saturday, June 9 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, June 10 at 3:00 pm
Pay-What-You-Can Previews: Wednesday, June 6  and Thursday, June 7 at 7:30 pm
Special Matinees: Friday, June 22 at 12:00 pm
Please note: Thursday, June 21 at 7:30 pm the show will have open captioning for the hearing impaired.


LOCATION: The Washington DC Jewish Community Center's Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater at 1529 16th Street NW in Washington, DC, 4 blocks east of Dupont Circle.

PARKING & METRO:  Limited parking in the Washington DCJCC lot; additional parking available at Colonial Parking, 1616 P Street NW; limited street parking. Dupont Circle Station RED line.

TICKETS:  Starting at $30. Box Office Tickets (800) 494-TIXS or
For discounts for groups of 10+ call (202) 777-3214 or email

Theater J is handicapped accessible and offers assisted listening devices for interested patrons.   
High resolution digital images are available upon request. More information about this production is available at (202) 777-3230 or

Theater J, a program of the Washington DCJCC, produces thought-provoking, publicly engaged, personal, passionate and entertaining plays and musicals that celebrate the distinctive urban voice and social vision that are part of the Jewish cultural legacy. Acclaimed as one of the nation's premiere playwrights theaters, Theater J presents cutting edge contemporary work alongside spirited revivals and is a nurturing home for the development and production of new work by major writers and emerging artists exploring many of the pressing moral and political issues of our time. Dedicated first to a pursuit of artistic excellence, Theater J takes its dialogues beyond the stage, offering an array of innovative public discussion forums and outreach programs which explore the theatrical, psychological and social elements of our art. We frequently partner with those of other faiths and communities, stressing the importance of interchange among a great variety of people wishing to take part in frank, humane conversations about conflict and culture.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nostalgia rears its head in Baltimore

The tabloid comic book is being reprinted and fans are getting ready.

Superman! Vs. Muhammad Ali!
By Vincent Williams
Baltimore City Paper October 20, 2010

Friday, October 08, 2010

NPR's Monkey See blog's podcast on Superman

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Superman, Tim Gunn, And Other Everyday Heroes
by Linda Holmes
National Public Radio's Monkey See blog's Pop Culture Happy Hour (October 8 2010)

With Glen Weldon of course. And I'm now guessing that Linda Holmes must be in the area too?

Friday, July 09, 2010

Superheroes Who Are Super at the Capital Fring Festival beginning tonight

Save the Day Productions is presenting its live readings of comic books, "Superheroes Who Are Super" at the Capital Fringe Festival beginning tonight
Friday, July 9 @ 8pm
Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man and Wonder Woman #1
Saturday, July 10 @ 10pm
Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man and Wonder Woman #1
Wednesday, July 14 @ 9:45pm
Batman Adventures: Mad Love
Friday, July 16 @ 10:15pm
The Uncanny X-Men #127-128
Sunday, July 18 @ 3:30pm
The Uncanny X-Men #127-128


The Apothecary
1013 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC
Tickets: $15

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cavna looks into Superman million dollar comic a bit more closely

Call the Daily Planet! Superman comic book sells for record $1M [UPDATED]
Michael Cavna
Washington Post Comic Riffs blog February 22, 2010

Million dollar action

Both the Express and the Examiner ran stories about somebody paying a million dollars for a comic book with the first appearance of Superman. Here's the wire story they used: Superman's debut comic book issue sells for $1M By JAKE COYLE, The Associated Press, Monday, February 22, 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Post photo of kids seeking Superman

Today's Post (and the Express) had a cute photograph by Sarah L. Voisin of the children of the Fine family dressed as Superman and Flash Gordon. The caption said they were "preparing to see a Superman exhibit at the National Museum of American History on Sunday, but they missed it." As far as I recall the last Superman exhibit was for his 50th birthday in 1988 which means they missed it by quite a lot. -17 years in the case of the older boy.

Unfortunately the image isn't online.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NPR's Weldon on Alan Moore's Superman story

In "Sleep Well, Superman: A Classic Reissued," by Glen Weldon, National Public Radio's Books We Like (July 28, 2009), he reviews Alan Moore and Curt Swan's Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? which was one of the best Superman stories ever written, largely because Moore and Swan obviously loved and respected the previous 50 years of stories and Superman's iconic status. As Weldon notes, "Moore penned a sweeping, surprisingly tender elegy to Superman's rich, primary-colored history, superdog and all. The character had died previously (and since, famously, in 1992), but the superhero comic is a land of dream sequences, clones and regeneration where death is not so much an ending as a plot point. Moore's story, in contrast, is a culmination; even 23 years later, it stands as a moving farewell to the Superman most of us grew up with."

Moore's throw-away story of Superman meeting Swamp Thing from DC Comics Presents is included, and along with the Mongul story, present three excellent interpretations of the Superman mythos.

It took another 22 years, and another writer from Great Britain, Grant (All-Star Superman) Morrison, to even come close to the tenor of Moore's work.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Straight Dope on Superman's diamonds

The Straight Dope column in the July 24th City Paper is on whether or not Superman could make diamonds by squeezing coal. It's also online.