Friday 17 June 2016

Superman: The Canadian Connection

Toronto artist Joe Shuster, a cousin to the famous Frank of Wayne & Shuster, came from humble roots.  His parents, struggling to make ends meet, could not afford to buy him sketch paper.  He went from store to store asking for donations, and received some rolls of old wallpaper.  It was on the back of this wallpaper that he sketched musketeer Henri Duval and crime fighter Doctor Occult, both approved by DC Comics in 1935.

The Shuster's moved to Cleveland, Ohio when Joe was 10 and it was there that Joe met future collaborator Jerry Siegel.  Jerry had found a kindred spirit:  "When Joe and I first met, it was like the right chemicals coming together."(  One day, the duo sketched a superhero which sat on the slush pile at National Comics for six years.  However, in 1938, an editor at a new magazine, Action Comics, took notice and Superman was born.

The similarities between Superman and Shuster were noticeable.  Shuster, the son of a Dutch immigrant, was similar to Superman, a North American from the planet Krypton.  The Toronto Daily Star, which Shuster used to deliver as a young boy, became The Daily Star (later The Daily Planet) in the Superman comic.  Metropolis, where Superman lives, shares similarities to the skyline of Depression-era Toronto, where Shuster grew up.  Perry White, editor in chief of The Daily Star, is socially conscious just as The Toronto Daily Star's Joseph "Holy Joe" Atkinson was.

On the occasion of Superman's 75th Anniversary, Canada Post issued a stamp to honour the superhero.

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