The tough, blue-collar roots of Superman’s creators are getting a fresh look on the superhero’s 75th anniversary.
Creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster lived just a few blocks apart in the Cleveland neighborhood that shaped their teenage lives, their dreams and the imagery of the Man of Steel.
In the city’s Glenville neighborhood, still in the throttling grip of the Great Depression, Siegel and Shuster labored on their creation for years before finally selling Superman to a publisher.
The Man of Steel became a Depression-era bootstrap strategy for the Siegel/Shuster team, according to Brad Ricca, a professor at nearby Case Western Reserve University who uses Superman in his classes. “They really just saw it as a way out,” he said.
But it was not just hardscrabble circumstances that tempered the Man of Steel, Siegel’s daughter said. Laura Siegel Larson said Cleveland’s public library, comic pages and high school mentors all nurtured her father’s creativity.
“The encouragement that he received from his English teachers and the editors at the Glenville High School newspaper and the literary magazine gave my dad a real confidence in his talents,” she said.