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Superman History Facts

The Man of Steel has been around for more than 70 years, but few people know the real Superman history facts such as those surrounding Superman's first appearance. It wasn’t as a hero, but as a villain!

The Birth of Superman

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were two Cleveland kids who met in high school and shared a common interest in science fiction. The two teens spent their spare time drawing cartoons, creating story lines, and looking for a place to have them published.

One of their first collaborations, “The Reign of the Super-Man” focused on an egomaniacal Lex Luther-type villain who wanted to take over the world in his lust for power. The concept of that type of a “Super Man” didn’t capture the public’s imagination, so the boys dropped the idea of a super man criminal - but not of a super man who might be the world’s savior.

Dark Depression Days

The era of Superman was right in the middle of the worst depression in memory. People had no jobs, the economy looked horrible, and there was little break from the unrelieved misery of life. Siegel and Shuster were intent on finding a great escape through their comics. If their creation brought in money, that was more to the good.

Their newly revised “Superman” character, this time one of the good guys, was still being rejected as a cartoon by newspaper syndicates, who feared being sued since the character seemed like so many other characters that dominated the newspaper comic pages. The two young men refused to give up. While they waited for the great success they thought could be theirs, they sharpened and honed their skills by making up their own science fiction magazine. That, too, unfortunately did them little good, since so few people purchased it. According to Superman history facts, that trend was soon to be broken.

Movin’ On Up

The partners began to have some success with some of their stories and drawings, which they sold to a local comic book publisher. The publisher, deciding to put together another comic book title called “Action Comics,” needed a good story idea. That was when one of the employees there pulled out the Superman comic strip Siegel and Shuster had sent months ago, but which had languished in a file, waiting for someone to notice it.

This time, it was noticed. Some of the Superman facts include Siegel and Shuster initially putting together a 13-page story for the new comic title in 1938. Superman history facts show sales at first were slow, but by the fourth in the series, the comic book flew off the store shelves and the publisher knew he had a hit on his hands.

The two unwittingly sold the rights to Superman to the publisher for $130 and the promise to produce more stories. Over the years, both partners sued to get more money out of the publisher, DC Comics, but they never received anywhere near the millions of dollars that the Superman franchise brought in.

Superman Lookalikes

While Siegel and Shuster lived, at times, in poverty despite their million-dollar Superman creation, DC Comics let no grass grow under its feet in its desire to sue any potential Superman imitators. In 1941, DC Comics brought a lawsuit against Fawcett Comics for its best-selling cartoon superhero character Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel outsold Superman and other superhero titles in the mid-1940s. The case dragged on until 1953 when a court ruled in favor of DC Comics. Fawcett ceased publication of Captain Marvel. Two decades later, DC obtained the rights to the Captain Marvel series and used the character as a partner to several of its other superhero "stars."

Superman History Facts

After World War II, Superman hit a resurgence. The comic was now sold to newspaper syndicates and it had been the subject of a movie serial starring Kirk Allwyn.

Superman was now very famous and that only increased after the easy availability of television.

A Superman TV series made the character’s popularity hit untold heights. No other comic book figure could compare.