My history with Superman
I was born in August of 1980, in the state of Maryland. I spent the first 2 years of my life in Greenbelt, MD before we moved to Laurel, MD in 1982 and lived there for 10 years. It was during this time that I first met the Man of Steel on the Superfriends cartoons. Over time I continued to follow the character in the final 2 incarnations of that show (Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and Super Powers: The Galactic Guardians), then continued with the 1988 Superman cartoon. It was around this point that Superman IV was making its way to theaters, Superman III was finally making its way to network television and the Superboy TV Series was airing, so add all that together, plus owning my very own Super Powers Superman figure, and I was a real Superman fan. It was also around this point that I realized that the Laurel Public Library actually had comics books that you could borrow. Usually, I borrowed Garfield books, but one day I discovered that not only did they have regular issues, but a few trades as well. I borrowed a few issues, but they were various issues from the 1990 Krypton Man saga, so I was completely lost. They also had Dark Knight Returns, which, when your entire knowledge of Batman comes from the 1960s TV Series, was quite a confusion shock. But, I did find one book that I would borrow again and again and really cemented me as a Superman comic fan, Superman from the 30s to the 80s. As you can guess by the title, it reprinted various Superman and Superboy stories from his debut in 1938 to 1980. I was introduced to Superman’s very first adventures, the first imaginary story where Clark and Lois go to see one of the Fleisher Superman cartoons, the story of Lori Lemaris, the origin of Supergirl, the origin of Lex Luthor, Kryptonite Nevermore and the Miraculous Return of Jonathan Kent!
We moved from Laurel to Severn, MD in the summer of 1992, meaning I not only lost my favorite Superman book, but I would never me able to read it again. The libraries around my new home didn’t carry comic books. Well, not the superhero ones anyway. I could still read Garfield though. But, once again, Superman made a big splash in the world and basically changed my life. See, in November of 1992, DC Comics published this little story called The Death of Superman. I still remembering being on Thanksgiving vacation at my grandparents’ house down in Florida when I first heard the report on the news and thinking that it was only temporary. After all, way back when I read Dark Knight Returns, it had looked like he’d died in a Nuclear Explosion, but he came back. I quickly learned though that he actually could die and that they even had a follow up storyline featuring the funeral and the aftermath. These issues would be collected, along with the first Superman Gallery, into a big set and sold at Wal-Mart. These were the first Superman comics I ever owned, and ironically, he wasn’t alive in any of them. But, there was an ad on one of those “save 1 page for a ton of small, cheap ad space selling things like x-ray specs and comic stores” pages that caught my eye. It was for Discount Comics in El Segundo, CA. They had several comics series listed in their “$1 each” section of their small ad that really caught my eye: Superboy #1-22. Now, bear in mind that at this point, I had not heard of the Crisis on Infinite Earths of the Man of Steel reboot, and that I’d read a couple of Superboy stories in Superman from the 30s to the 80s, so I thought I was getting really old issues for a really cheap price. So, I sent away for the issues and when I got them, I was disappointed. First of all, I didn’t realize at the time that Superboy (although I was corrected by one of the ads in one of those Superboy issues) had given up his original book to some group called the Legion of Superheroes and that in 1979 (Cover date January 1980) he received a new series starting with a new #1, and this was the series that I received in the mail. Also, they didn’t have all 22 issues. At least I got a refund for the missing ones. But, I now had comics in which the hero was alive and well, so that helped alot. The box of comics also came with a complete catalog of titles that they had for sale. With this in hand, I began working on my comic collection.
A subscription to Batman comics (the first issue of which coincided with the start of Knightfall) and another comics pack from Wal-Mart featuring the debut of the 4 new Superman kept me going with current comics. Now, I should point out that even at the age of 12, I realized that Superman was in 4 titles and I couldn’t afford to subscribe to all 4, and at the time, the Batman titles were all doing their own things, so I thought I was being smart and cost effective. It was just my bad luck that this was also the start of the Bat titles crossing over like the Super-books were. Anyway, it wasn’t easy to find single issues of the Superman titles for awhile. Wal-Mart didn’t sell them (at the time anyway) and I was too young to drive to a comic store or Waldenbooks, so I just continued getting the older issues, but on a $1 a week allowance, purchases were few and far between. Fortunately, in 1994, Sam’s Club began offering comic packs like I had bought at Wal-Mart, but this time there were about 24 different titles (basically, all of DC Comics’ books in the $1.50 price range) for $10. These not only allowed me to catch up on all of the Superman books (plus the extra books like Superboy and Steel), but most of the other DC books as well. These lasted all the way up to Zero Month, at which point they decided to stop selling these packs.
By this point, my Batman subscription had ended so I switched over to Action Comics, just as Roger Stern left the book (my timing really sucks). At this point I also had found a nearby comic store which was running a special sale on bronze age Superman comics for $1 a piece. I quickly snatched these up, giving me access to just about every Superman comic between 1973 and 1976, which necessitated the purchase of my first longbox. Soon I got a job (income!) and a driver’s license which meant more comics. I currently own a complete collection of Superman comics (well, the regular monthly books anyway) from John Byrne’s Man of Steel #1 all the way up to the start of the New Krypton storyline in 2009, plus 90% of the issues from 1971 to the Man of Steel reboot, as well as large collections of Batman, Fantastic Four, JLA, the Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Flash, Green Lantern and more. Whew! And, I own, either in reprint or original issues, every story I read in Superman from 30s to the 80s!
Over the years, my comic interests have changed and shifted, but there has always been 1 constant, Superman (well, until New Krypton). But, since the DC Not-A-Reboot, I have returned to the Superman titles. The character and the world around him have changed quite a bit in my years following him, but one thing has always stayed the same, he is a great symbol of hope. I started my podcast to help celebrate this symbol of hope, and to shine a light on an often overlooked or forgotten chapter in his history. I hope that I convey my love of the character in the show.
My podcast history
The first podcast I ever listened to was From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast. On this show, Michael Bailey and Jeffery Taylor follow Superman’s adventures and appearances from the Man of Steel reboot in 1986 to Infinite Crisis in 2006. I really fell in love with this show. It was a couple of Superman fans talking about comic books that I not only had, but was very familiar with. Because of this show, I looked into more shows with these guys. At the time Jeffery didn’t have any other shows, but Michael was all over the place. There was Spider-Man Crawlspace, on which he was one of the panelists. Then, I discovered his Views from the Longbox which was similar to FCTC, but more varied in the subject matter. One episode featured a guest podcaster named Scott Gardner, which led me over to the Two True Freaks! shows. This web of podcasters led to me finding tons of shows to listen to that I thought were really entertaining. Eventually, I got it in my head that I’d like to do something similar, but I did not think anyone would want to listen to me talk about comics. I started a comic book review blog, beginning with a Fantastic Four/Spider-Man team up miniseries. After that, I thought maybe, since FCTC was covering the post reboot era, I’d cover the era before that, but in written form. But, after a few weeks, it was pretty obvious that no one was reading it, despite advertising it on Facebook and other places. Discouraged, I contacted Steve Younis, who runs the Superman Homepage, to see if he’d be interested in my reviews. He said yes, so I moved my previous reviews over to his site, and then began a series covering Jack Kirby’s run on Jimmy Olsen.
Around this time, I started listening to another Spider-Man podcast (blasphemy!) called Teenage Wasteland: An Ultimate Spider-Man Podcast. One of the cool things about this show was that they would offer a guest spot on an episode in which a listener could come on and talk about the comic with them. I thought that could be fun, so I gathered the things I needed and prepared. Unfortunately, they hit a scheduling snag which temporarily halted the show. So I was sitting there with experience in reviewing comics, and all the stuff I need to put together a show, so I just decided to make my own show.
At first, I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in a show like Superman in the Bronze Age, but when I asked around, people not only said they’d be interested in a show like that, but many also offered to play a promo for me when I got one put together. A few weeks later, the show premiered and not only did the guys on FCTC promote the show, but also referred to it as their “brother” show. To me, that was validation.
Over the show’s history, it has hit a few bumps, but continues to grow. Mine was one of the first new Superman shows to debut at roughly the same time, which led to the formation of the Superman Podcast Network. I’ve been invited to appear on most of the other shows on SPN, including semi-regular appearances on Thrilling Adventures of Superman and Golden Age Superman, as well as being invited on FCTC a few times (unfortunately, a scheduling conflict prevented me from being able to participate on one of them). I have made several new friends, and I have conversations with people that, only a year ago, were practially celebrities to me.
As for my guest-appearance on Teenage Wasteland? Well, that show came back, I finally got to record 2 episodes of what would have been a multi-episode guest stint covering a multi-part story (Ultimatum), and then life got in the way again for the hosts, so those episodes have yet to be released. Thus, making it apparent, that my bad timing continues to this day.
I have just join in with your podcast and I am trying to listen in order to catch up. I hope to touch base with you more about me later, but I have enjoyed your respect and love with Superman. I thank you for your work and I am here for the whole trip.