Readers of a blog called Siegel & Shuster: Mythmakers probably have at least a tenuous bit of knowledge about who Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are. However, as this is is the Internet, visitors do, on occasion, wonder by sites with unfamiliar subject matters and pay a visit.
As the blog is still in its infancy, I thought it might be apt to address the question, “Who are Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster?” in hopes of giving newcomers — and even those with a passing familiarity with them — a basic primer.
To that end, here are a few recommended resources for checking out. One caveat is that most of these resources do place a heavy emphasis on their creation of Superman. But, still, they serve well as an introduction and basic primer to the men’s lives.
We’ll start off with the old standby: Wikipedia.
Both Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster have individual entries — albeit rather lean ones, in my opinion — on the site. Skimming through the entries, I do see a few relatively minor discrepancies and errors. So, keep in mind that the standard Wikipedia validity disclaimer applies.
Another great read is the joint biography of Siegel and Shuster originally written by Jamie Coville. This biography pre-dates the Wikipedia and social media booms, as well as quite a bit of new information that has surfaced since it was written. At the time of its original posting, it was the most thorough biography on the men available on the Internet. Coville was kind enough to let me re-post it several years ago when his site, The History of Comic Books, went offline and, despite a few minor inaccuracies that have come to light, stands as an excellent bare-bones look at their lives.
In early 2011, I put together more complete, revised and expanded biographies of Siegel and Shuster and presented them in a four-part series in early episodes of my podcast, The Thrilling Adventures of Superman.
Parts one and two of the Jerry Siegel biography can be found in episode 10 and episode 12. Parts one and two of the Joe Shuster biography can be found in episode 15 and episode 16. I’ve learned much about podcasting and biographical research — not to mention Siegel and Shuster themselves — since doing these and hope to expand on them even more in the future. But, they still stand among my most favorite things I’ve ever done for the show.
Another highly recommended resource is Marc Tyler Nobleman’s book, “Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman,” an all-ages picture book about Siegel, Shuster and the creation of Superman — and the first, and so far only, stand-alone biography about the men.
While rather Superman-centric and giving little mention to other work from Siegel and Shuster, “Boys of Steel” still gets the highest possible recommendation. It is definitely something comic fans both young and old should check out. Nobleman really did his research for the book and produced an incredible piece of literature.
I was honored to be able to speak with Marc Tyler Nobleman on episode 75 of The Thrilling Adventures of Superman, where we discussed the book, its development, why Siegel’s and Shuster’s stories are worthy of a book and much more. Nobleman’s blog, Noblemania, also serves as a home to many behind-the-scenes stories concerning the research and promotion of the book, as well as things Nobleman discovered in his research that, for one reason or another, didn’t make it into the book.
Other books, such as “Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book” by Gerard Jones, “The Steranko History of Comics” by Jim Steranko, “The Great Comic Book Heroes” by Jules Feiffer, also touch on aspects of Siegel’s and Shuster’s lives and are recommended for those interested in a deeper look at how their stories fit into the broader history of comics.
So, many resources available for a basic look at the lives of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. With luck, more will become available in the future as more information surfaces. I’ll be sure to make note of them there when they do and, in the meantime, stay tuned to the blog for more looks at the lives and works of Siegel and Shuster.