WHERE LEGENDS LIVE!Kids with Dreams!SUPERMAN 2001!
  •   forum   •   THIS WEEK'S CHAPTER: "IN MY FATHER'S EYES!" •   "S!"  

Joe Shuster: We were both great science-fiction fans, reading Amazing Stories and Wonder Stories in those days.

Jerry Siegel: When Joe and I met, it was like the right chemicals coming together.  I loved his artwork, the stuff that he showed me—and he showed me stuff that he had drawn even years earlier, when he was a teenager, science-fiction stuff.  I thought he had the flair—though he was a beginner—I thought he had the flair of a Frank R. Paul, who was one of the best science-fiction illustrators in the field.

Joe Shuster: And I was an avid reader of H.G. Wells -

Jerry Siegel: Right. And to our astonishment, we found that both of us were great science-fiction fans, Joe as well as I; and we were both reading the same type of material.

Joanne Siegel: In fact, the three of us were destined to meet, because we were kids all playing at being grown up, trying desperately to be grown up.  And since that first day of our friendship, we're still together.

Joe Shuster: Not only that, but when I first met Joe, to my intense delight, he showed me that he was a collector.  He was collecting some of the early Tarzan pages by Hal Foster, and, later, early Flash Gordons; and I found that we were both absolutely interested in the same type of thing.  And I was crazy about the artists that he was crazy about, and yet he had this wonderful flair, I didn't know then that some day he would be as famous as those other cartoonists; but I thought, "Gee whiz, I would just love to work with him."

Joe, what was the first artwork of yours that Jerry saw?

Joe Shuster: That was when I was about 14 years old.  I drew a picture on the back of a calendar in pencil.  In those days they used to give out free calendars, I had no art paper, so I took whatever else I could.  A lot of my work was done on brown wrapping paper and on the back of wallpaper.  The drawing Jerry first saw was on the back of a calendar sheet about 14 inches wide by 17 inches long.  It showed the world of tomorrow: a beautiful scene of spaceships, rocketships, and futuristic skyscrapers in the city of the future.  At the bottom I put my name and the date and "The City of the Future: 1980."  That was in 1926 or 1927.  It was one of the few things I've ever saved.

Jerry Siegel: 1980 seemed like the distant future then.

Joe Shuster: My favorite comic strip in those days was Little Nemo by Winsor McCay. It was very imaginative, and that was the sort of fantasy I grew up with and loved.

Jerry Siegel: Me, too: I used to love Little Nemo, and I remember that when I was a kid, someone had told me how you could rub a printed drawing with a candlewax candle, put it down on a piece of blank paper, and take a heavy object and rub the back of the paper, and the whole thing, color and all, would be transferred.  I used to love to do that with the comics, including Little Nemo, which was also one of my favorites.  This was years before Joe and I met.

Joe Shuster: Also Jerry and I did a comic book together -

Jerry Siegel: That was later; it was after we did our fanzine Science Fiction.  I've already mentioned how in 1929 I put out this fanzine: I definitely wanted to be a science fiction writer.  Since I was running into a little trouble in getting other people to go along with my desires and publish my stuff, I began publishing it myself.  Then, after I met Joe, we immediately began working on a wide variety of different types of comic strips: funny strips and adventure strips.  We did a strip about a cave man and showed it around to the syndicates.  That was one of our first collaborations, but not the very first.  It wasn't too long after that that Alley Oop came out, and we did a double-take.  And then another strip that I had done before getting together with Joe—I worked with another artist through the mails—was called The Time Crusaders.  It was about some fellows who travelled around in a time machine and had adventures in the past and future.  I presented it, and not too long after that, Brick Bradford came out.

Joe Shuster: One of the first comic strips we ever did together was called Interplanetary Police.

Jerry Siegel: Right, it was one of our first strips—perhaps the very first.  I really can't give you too much detail, except that, as the title suggests, it was about the adventures of the police in the distant future, with the adventures taking place on various worlds.  Something funny in connection with it: I submitted it to United Feature Syndicate.  Joe and I waited breathlessly.  Then one day we got a letter in the mail, and it said United Feature Syndicate on it, and my heart started pounding, and I opened it.  There was a real short letter, and the first line was: "Congratulations!" And I thought, "Boy, we've made it."  Then what was the rest of the letter?  "This is an interesting strip, but we can't use it"—something like that, which was quite a letdown.

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