I don’t remember the first time I read Superman. As far back as I can remember, he was always there. I’ve always been a fan. and he’s always been an influence.
I had Superman comics, and the toys and the t-shirts and, of course, Superman From the Thirties to the Seventies. I won second place in the Superman Movie contest and, years later, a Superman trivia contest in the local newspaper. I helped celebrate his Fiftieth Anniversary in Cleveland. If Ohio does issue the Superman license plate, I’ll have that, too.
I love the character. I loved his powers, his adventures, his cast, his history. Some people relate to Batman more, because in the abstract he’s attainable. Not me, I loved the fantastic. Besides, there’s plenty of things to relate to Superman, too. Who hasn’t looked through their clumsiness and glasses at someone and said "If only they knew who I really am, what I’m really like…" There’s a solitude and a purpose to the character that I think we all feel at some point.
He created the industry I work in and that I love so much. Comics existed before, but they were never the same afterward. Much like his constant presence in my life, I’ve always known that I wanted to be a cartoonist. The first character I learned to draw was Superman. The first comic book artist whose style I could recognize was a Superman artist. (Kurt Schaffenberger, though Curt Swan came soon after that.)
He was created by kids from my hometown, which made my dream of becoming a cartoonist seem that much more attainable. They were a lesson in persistence and in so many other things. The reason creators know to be concerned about the rights to their characters is because of the path Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster walked.
I love the message of the character, too. One of the best descriptions I’ve read of the character is: "He isn’t Superman because he has incredible powers. He’s Superman because, with all those powers, he always does what’s right." He calls us all to do the same. In a famous story where he believes he is dying, Superman carves a message to humanity: Do good unto others and every man can be a Superman.
The Man of Steel seventy-five today, and he shows no sign of stopping. It seems that, much like his battle, Superman is never-ending. I couldn’t be happier.