It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…!

When Greg Goldstein at IDW called me a few months ago to tell me “some really great news,” I could tell he was enjoying keeping me in suspense as to what that good news was.

Well, he had his fun—and deservedly so because his news, as they say, did not disappoint. After years of negotiation with the fine folks at DC Comics, now DC Entertainment, he had secured the rights for the Library of American Comics to produce the definitive archival editions of DC’s classic Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman newspaper strips.

We all fondly remember the beautiful job Kitchen Sink Press and DC did in the 1990s reprinting the first few years of the Superman and Batman strips. But that’s all there was, although the Man of Steel’s strip continued until 1966, leaving nearly twenty-five years of Superman stories missing from the established canon. Lots of comic books have been reprinted in DC’s Archive Editions, but not the newspaper strips. Add to that the Batman & Robin strip from the 1960s and the super-rare Wonder Woman daily from the 1940s…and you can see why Greg was so giddy when he called.

So here we stand at the exciting beginning of a multi-year endeavor.

First out of the gate (in July) will be Superman. The dailies will be released in three sub-sets, starting with The Silver Age (1960s), then The Atomic Age (1950s), and finally, The Golden Age (1940s). Sundays will be released in a separate, concurrent, series later in the year.

Many of the stories from the Atomic Age and Golden Age were original tales by Alvin Schwartz. That changed in 1958. Under Mort Weisinger’s editorship, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was brought in to script adaptations of then-current comic book tales. The art is by none other than Curt Swan, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye.

To me, it’s like discovering an entire alternate universe of the now-famous Silver Age comic book stories that I read as a kid. It’s better than an imaginary story-it’s Jerry Siegel doing a remake of his classic Superman’s Return to Krypton!…it’s Curt Swan, not Al Plastino, drawing The Menace of Metallo. Around the Library, we’ve come to think of these strips as taking place on a brand new world—Earth-N for Newspapers!

SupermanSilver1_600

It’s a Swan, it’s a Kaye, no…it’s a Poplaski!

The first person we contacted was Sid Friedfertig, Brooklyn’s #1 Superman Fan. Sid is probably the only person to have amassed a near-complete collection of Superman dailies. Not an easy task—many hardcore Superman comic book collectors have long searched in vain for these delicate scraps of newsprint. Sid’s graciously loaned his collection and is already busy writing introductions for each of the collections of dailies. He’s thrilled to share his collection, telling me that he always wondered why no one had ever reprinted the strips. At first he didn’t even know how long it ran. After a little investigation, he discovered that the strips from about 1942 until 1966 were never seen anywhere after their initial appearance in the newspapers. Years later, he says, “the publisher at DC confirmed to me what I already knew—they didn’t have them.”

Tom DeHaven, author of the novel It’s Superman!, is writing the foreword. For the covers, I turned to another old pal, Pete Poplaski, who created those great covers for the KSP/DC editions. Pete’s covers will reflect the Superman drawing styles and themes as they evolved over the years. Volume One is an homage to Curt Swan’s art and Ira Schnapp’s lettering design.

More on the Volume Two and the upcoming Sundays series in a couple of days. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I was 8 years old again…

 

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