The city of Cleveland has declared April 18th “Superman Day,” in honor of the character’s 75th anniversary. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were living in Cleveland when they created Superman, who first appeared in ACTION COMICS #1 in 1938.
This makes Superman the longest-running literary character of the 20th century, having now been in constant publication in multiple media formats (including comic books, comic strips, radio, stage plays, television, and motion pictures) for 75 years. Superman is also responsible for inspiring what became the superhero genre, as an entire industry of costumed heroes with super powers and secret identities followed suit in the following decades.
I can’t remember the first time I read ACTION COMICS #1, but it would’ve been in the SUPERMAN: FROM THE 30S TO THE 70S hardcover. Many of those old reprints I used to flip through and look at before I could read, so I’ve literally been reading Superman my entire life. As I grew up, other interests developed. But I always came back to Superman. He was like a foster father in times when I felt very alone.
People ask what I still see in Superman. To me, he’s a symbol of knowing yourself, embracing your true inner purpose and secret identity. Grant Morrison said it best in an interview in 2008: “We’re all Superman in our own adventures… That ‘S’ is the radiant emblem of divinity we reveal when we rip off our stuffy shirts, our social masks, our neuroses, our constructed selves, and become who we truly are.”
What are your memories of Superman? What does the character mean to you? Let us known on our message boards.
Here’s to the next 75 years.