The Big Issue : Edition 435
THeBigissue21jun–4jul2013 17 Los Angeles on $7000 a year; the nearly-blind Shuster, who’d been working as a messenger in New York (he reportedly once delivered a package to DC Comics, where embarrassed staff asked him not to return), was in a nursing home. Angered by reports of a big-budget Superman movie in the offing, Siegel wrote and sent out a nine-page press release outlining the poverty, failing health and economic exploitation of Superman’s creators. As he put it: “Joe Shuster and I, who co-originated Superman together, will not get one cent from the Superman super-movie deal. Superman has been a huge money-maker for 37 years. During most of those years, Joe Shuster and I...got nothing from our creation, and through many of those years we have known want, while Superman’s publishers became multimillionaires.” Siegel’s press release was picked up by the media – there was clearly merit in a story about a much-loved character committed to righting wrongs raking in millions while his creators struggled in poverty. This was not good publicity for the coming movie, so DC Comics and its parent company, Warner Communications (later Time Warner), bowed to public opinion. They returned the creators’ by-lines to the comics and gave them each a $20,000 yearly pension and medical coverage for life. The first movie alone made $US300 million dollars and clockwise from top left george reeves in the tv series adventures of superman, 1952 – 1958; teri hatcher (as lois lane) gets hitched to dean cain (as superman) in the tv series Lois & CLark: the new adventures of superman, 1993 – 1997; christopher reeve (as superman) confronting villian richard pryor (as august ‘gus’ gorman) in superman iii, 1983; sightseeing as clark kent with lane in superman ii; brandon routh in superman returns, 2006; reeve in superman: the movie, 1978; superman appears in the first aCtion ComiCs, 1938; reeve in superman iii Below and p15 krypto the superdog, superman’s pet dog, in various comic books by dc comics generated three sequels: Superman himself is estimated to have generated more than a billion dollars in merchandising and licensing fees alone during his 75-year history. Shuster did more than outline his case against DC in that effusive press release. He put a curse on the film itself: “I, Jerry Siegel, the co-originator of Superman, put a curse on the Superman movie! I hope it super-bombs. I hope loyal Superman fans stay away from it in droves. I hope the whole world, becoming aware of the stench that surrounds Superman, will avoid the movie like a plague.” This curse might not have put much of a dent in the movies’ box office takings, but for many years there have been rumours of a curse on anyone playing the role of Superman. George Reeves was Superman in the successful 1950s television series: he was found shot dead in suspicious circumstances in 1959, just days before he was supposed to be married. Other actors who have played the part have been unable to find further work due to being too closely associated with the character, while Lee Quigley, who played Superman as a baby in the 1978 film, died of solvent abuse aged 14. Supporting characters supposedly aren’t immune either. Richard Pryor, who played the villain in Superman III, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years later.