1936 Superman Sketches

By | Tuesday, November 26, 2019 Leave a Comment
Superman famously leaped into the public consciousness in 1938 with the publication of Action Comics #1. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, however, had been working on the idea for several years prior as is widely known. Siegel had published "The Reign of the Superman" in Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization #3, a fanzine of the early 1930s. The titular character bore little resemblance to the Superman we know today, possibly most notably in that he was a villain. A re-worked version of the character (now a hero) was offered to Consolidated Book Publishing, but the company stopped publishing comic books just as they sent in their submission.

1936 Superman sketches
What we're looking at today is some of Joe Shuster's early sketches of the Superman that debuted in Action Comics. But these are from 1936, a full two years before the character's public debut. This was done on the back of some scrap wallpaper. You can clearly see some of the design ideas Shuster was working through -- including giving him a more typical strong-man outfit with a tank top, and using him as a pitchman on a box of whole wheat pancakes. Also visible are lot of notes toying with some of the promotional language including "The Greatest Super-Hero of All Time!" And, is the figure that's drawn sideways Lois Lane?

Robert Beerbohm‎ posted this last night on Facebook and it's worth checking out for some of the close-ups he includes where you can really study the details.

I'm continually amazed how we can still uncover ephemera like this that sheds more and more light on the earliest days of comic books as we know them!
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