Superman Comic Strip Debuted

By Cat Eldridge: On this day in 1939, the Superman comic strip appeared for readers for the very first time.  Let me tell about it as it’s a fascinating story. It began on this date, and a separate Sunday strip was added on November 5, 1939. Both of the strips ran continuously without an interruption until May 1966. In 1941, the McClure Syndicate which controlled its distribution had placed the strip in hundreds of newspapers. The Syndicate says that some three hundred papers with twenty million readers had access to the strip at its peak.

Setting aside the numbers, let’s turn to who created it. Joe Shuster was the initial artist but within a few years, he had turned over those duties to his bullpen including Paul Cassidy, Leo Neowik and Jerry Siegel who were among the first and Bill Finger would be the last to do it before it ceased in the Sixties. 

Siegel wrote them before he was drafted in 1943. Whitney Ellsworth, who had begun working on the strip in 1941, did them for four years. Jack Schiff began his writing on the strip in 1942 and worked on the strip off and on until 1962. Alvin Schwartz first started writing on it in 1944, and he continued on the strip more or less until 1958. Finger and Sebel finished off writing it in the last several years.

The strip had a number of firsts including the telephone booth costume change, the appearance of a bald Lex Luthor, and the appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk. 

Superman: The Complete Comic Strips 1939-1966 is an unofficial name for the strips now in exquisite hardcover collections published by The Library of American Comics. 

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