Steve Younis and Michael Bailey of Radio KAL Live and Supermanhomepage.com have a brilliant interview with the authors of “Holding Kryptonite” which provides incredible insight into the first ten years of Superman’s creation through the lens of correspondence between DC and Superman’s creators. The correspondence was literally recovered from the an old legal file set to be thrown into the trash, recovered by a neighboring legal assistant to serendipitously saved the file to share with the world! Michael and Steve were kind enough to ask a few of my questions to the authors and the interview is a must-listen.
I finished reading this book over the weekend…
…and thought it was a fascinating look into the direct correspondence between DC and- largely- Jerry Siegel, during those first few key years. Definitely worth it to read the letters alone.
The editorializing about the contents of the letter has a pretty strong position, but it does serve to provide context and a narrative to those less familiar with the details of the story. I think those who have become familiar with the matter (in recent years) won’t necessarily be surprised by the overall narrative, but the first hand correspondence puts a whole new layer of personality into the story.
For those who aren’t familiar with the details, this will serve as incredibly eye-opening. I think those who’ve bought into the parable which opens the book (which, nearly got me to throw it down for its inaccuracy, until you get to the line… “EXCEPT IT ISN’T TRUE” ) will be shocked. I love that each chapter, which follows the correspondence and events of one year, ends with a comparison of the average national salary and those of Siegel & Shuster. The perfect punctuation.
Just for some perspective on depression-era compensation:
1938 – National Avg. Salary $1,730 – S&S $04,530
1939 – National Avg. Salary $1,788 – S&S $08,612
1940 – National Avg. Salary $1,740 – S&S $38,080
1941 – National Avg. Salary $1,750 – S&S $56,573
1942 – National Avg. Salary $1,880 – S&S $63,776
1943 – National Avg. Salary $2,000 – S&S $61,490
1944 – National Avg. Salary $2,400 – S&S $57,638
1945 – National Avg. Salary $2,400 – S&S $48,795
1946 – National Avg. Salary $2,500 – S&S $49,938
In the first decade, they made a total of $401,194.85 in depression-era money, with DC under no obligation to compensate them that well.
Additionally, the fracture between Siegel and Shuster may be something new to readers.
The letters also provide great insight is the significance of DC’s editorial hand for a burgeoning genre and a growing cultural icon.
Something that was new to me, admittedly because I’m not as up on Batman’s history as Superman’s, but the sibling rivalry between the two apparently goes back to the beginning!
Questions for authors (no entitlement or expectation of an answer):
– Ms. Agostino, the appraisal story was hilarious! Do you have any plans for the letters at this point? Keeping them or selling them one day?
– Mr. Newberg, before getting into this book, did you have a position on this story?
– Did the more recent lawsuits affect you in any way?
To listen to how they answered, go to SupermanHomepage.com and subscribe to the podcast.