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SUPERMAN COVERS ENTERTAINMENT

Awash in blockbuster movies about comic book superheroes over the last few years, Entertainment Weekly periodically puts one of the funnybook longjohn legions on its cover. Last spring, EW (cover herewith) celebrated Superman’s 75th anniversary as a comic book character—and, of course, the opening of the new blockbuster Superman flick. “Man of Steel” raked in $113 million on its opening weekend ($125 mil if you count Thursday “screenings”; still well below “The Avengers” record of $207.4 million but surpassing “Toy Story 3's” $110.3 million as the best June opening of all time).

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Only two versions of the comic book Superman are depicted across the bottom: on the left, Joe Shuster’s iconographic rendering (his was, after all, the very first interpretation of his friend Jerry Siegel’s super-powered concoction); on the right, Jim Lee’s. The big Superman on the cover is by Neal Adams.

Inside, a two-page spread lays out 18 different Supermen, actors and comic book characters.

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The comic book artists are all identified, and I realized at once that they’d left out Wayne Boring, who went to work in the Shuster-Siegel studio in 1938 and wound up being the chief delineator of the Krypton Refugee for at least two decades (1940s and 1950s). His barrel-chested Superman (inked by Stan Kaye) was the one I grew up with — as did all of the subsequent renderers of the character.

Boring and a number of other Golden Age DC artists were summarily dismissed in 1967-68 when the company purged itself of the “old school” artists. Too bad. The purge was directed by the legendary malcontent, Mort Weisinger, who called Boring into his office and told him he was fired. Boring related the details to Richard Pachter in a 1984 interview (published in Amazing Heroes):

“You mean I’m not working for you anymore?”

“You’re fired,” Weisinger repeated.

“Fired?” Boring, flabbergasted, persisted: “What do you mean? All you’ve got to do is stop sending me scripts.” (Why, in other words, use the word “fired”?)

Weisinger went on: “Do you need a kick in the stomach to know you’re not wanted?”

Wonderful fella.

Said Boring: “I was kind of down — after 30 years!”

As for his opinion of Weisinger: “I was afraid I’d die and go to hell and he’d be in charge!” Boring joked. “That would have been the capper!”

Boring dabbled in comics for other publishers for a while, then retreated to Florida where he found a part-time job as a bank security guard. He died in 1987 of a heart attack.

           

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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