As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, one of life’s greatest pleasures was saving up my allowance and buying what I wanted with it–and there was only one thing I ever wanted–
Question: do kids get allowances anymore? Here in Los Angeles, toddlers get American Express.
–Anyway, with shiny quarters gripped in a grimy fist, I’d jump on my squeaky bike, pedal on down to the corner candy store, which was not on my corner, but several avenue blocks away, and I’d purchase the hot-off-the-press latest issue of Superman comic book.
I had a weird little tradition.
I’d stand at the comic book rack and eye all the comic books that were snugly tucked into their gray wire racks: Batman, Green Lantern, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spiderman. In truth, I wasn’t really interested in any of them. They all seemed like pale imitations of Superman. He was the original, the first hero, and all the others were but late-comers. Yet I leafed through these second-raters, sort of nodded my head when I came across a particularly well drawn cover or dynamic series of panels, and grudgingly admit that yes, this was pretty darn good–years later learning that the great Gil Kane (Eli Katz) was the man who consistently did the best Spider Man covers.
Finally, the owner of the candy store, a bad tempered Pole, would throw me nasty looks and mutter anti-Jewish curses under his breath, so I’d gently pluck the newest Superman from its cradle, smile inwardly as the cash register DINGED! Then I’d sail home to our apartment with the latest man of steel safely in my bicycle’s basket.
I did not read it immediately.
Where was the fun in that?
Anticipation, that was the name of the game.
Feverishly read it once–and then again, and again, and again–until I knew every frame and piece of dialogue by heart.
Little did I know but this was the perfect training ground for a budding screenwriter.
My parents were appalled by my literary taste, by my rapidly growing collection.
“You’re wasting your brain-power,” said my mother.
“You should be learning Torah,” said my father.
True, but Lois Lane was not in the Torah. And, oh boy was she hot. Her chest was so… pointy.
As the years went by, I gathered a massive collection of Superman comic books
I piled them in boxes, shoved them in my closet, and went away to college. I traded Siegel & Shuster for Hemingway and Fitzgerald. I’m not sure it was such a great deal.
My parents moved out of their modest apartment in Flatbush, on Ocean Parkway, and bought a comfortable house in Bensonhurst while I was away. When I came “home” for the first time I searched for my beloved Superman collection.
“Mom, where’s my Superman?”
“Oh, I threw them away, dear.”
My mother, z’l, smiled sweetly: “I figured you outgrew them.”
Still as a pilaster, I waited for my head to explode.
If I has those Superman comics today and sold them at auction — I’d be Google rich.
We always heard rumors of a Superman story that was never released. Back in 1940, when an issue cost 10 cents, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel wrote a script for the strip that introduced “K-Metal,” a precursor to Kryptonite. It also featured Clark Kent revealing his identity as Superman to Lois Lane. As detailed in Men of Tomorrow, the publishers thought Siegel and Shuster were messing with a sure thing and the script was deep-sixed.
Never seen it? Well, here it is.
Karen and I wish you all a lovely and meaningful Shabbos and a super Chag Sameach.