Sunday, June 11, 2017


I grew up with Superman. Superman was my role model, my moral compass, my pal and best of all Superman could really take care of the bad guys! I watched his cartoons on Saturday mornings and re-runs of the 1950's George Reeves TV series. By the early 1970's Superman had been around for 30+ years but he was more popular than ever. Some of my fondest & earliest memories (for me and every other kid who celebrates Christmas) are of opening Christmas presents. Our Christmas tree was located in what we called our "T.V. Room". We called this room the "T.V. Room" but there never was a functioning T.V. in it! Maybe Mom & Dad planned on having a T.V. in there when they first moved in but apparently it never happened...That's a story for another time. One Christmas Eve I vividly remember wading through piles of Christmas presents and finding a present with my name on it, To: Loran, From: Santa. Without hesitation I ripped off the wrapping and saw a yellow box with a really cool illustrated picture of SUPERMAN, on the back. The front had a cellophane window revealing the true prize: A MEGO SUPERMAN ACTION FIGURE!!!!  The image below is similar to the box my action figure came in but the actual box my Superman action figure came in is long gone...I do, however, wish I still had it.

As you can tell, my passion for Superman started early on. Not only was my exposure to the Man of Steel coming from television and toys but also from the influence of my older brother, Lee. My brother Lee was born in 1956 and was a big fan of Superman. He told me he had a couple of boxes of comics (DC & Marvel) from the  mid-1960's through the early 70's. Sadly, all of his comics were thrown-out. After he graduated high school in 1975 and went away to college our Great Aunt Genevieve and Grandmother Mary who lived next door, decided one day to clean the garage attic where my brother kept his old comics. They all got tossed into the trash. My Aunt Gen was a great lady who loved old movies but for some reason, didn't like comic books. My Grandmother and my Great Aunt also threw-out my Dad's collection of comics when he left for the the Army in 1950. Dad was born in 1929 so he was 10 years old when Superman's earliest adventures were on sale for a dime. Dad told me he had several boxes of them too, that he used to trade with the neighborhood kids, one of which was THE Andy Warhol! (...Dad said Andy was a "weird kid"...) Dad said he had all kinds of comics in his collection…mostly SUPERMAN. All gone.
If I had just some of those comics my Dad & Brother had, I could probably sell a few and have enough money to pay for my kids college education and have some spare cash leftover for a nice vacation. I loved my Great Aunt and Grandmother dearly but never understood their loathing for the comic art form. I can only speculate it was a "generational" thing. That along with World War II scrap paper drives are why Golden Age comics are so rare and valuable today. In 1979 I was almost 9 years old when Superman: The Movie came out. It was a game changer, totally blew my young mind with Christopher Reeves outstanding performance and John Williams iconic theme music.

A year later Superman II hit theaters. My Mom bought me the soundtrack and I listened to it hundreds of times. This made me even more of a Superman fan. I thought the Superman "S's" on the Superman II record itself were the coolest thing EVER! I don't know why it took me so long but in 1982 I finally decided to start my own comic book collection, vowing; " one will EVER throw out MY COMICS...!!!" The first comic that I ever bought with my own hard earned cash was Action Comics #527 Jan., 1982, featuring a cover illustration penciled by Ross Andru and inked by Mike Decarlo of Lord Satanis trapping Superman in some kind of magic rings...a very powerful image indeed!

Prior to starting my own collection my Mom bought me a few "Whitman Cover" Superman comics at the local Shop-n-Save. I liked them and they probably motivated me to seek out more stories but even at a young age I knew something was "weird" about the Whitman logo on the cover. It just seemed unnatural.

Throughout these comics one thing stood out; Curt Swan's masterful artwork. That guy could draw Superman and the world he existed in with such a great and consistent style. His consistency and professionalism is something that is sadly lacking in todays comics. Also, when he drew Superman, Superman looked like SUPERMAN! (A little like George Reeves too!) Even as a kid I knew I liked what I saw. I really wish I could have met Curt at a comic con but never did. He is immortal now just like other greats in the comics industry with a legacy of amazing artwork that will live on forever.

From the early 80's until the John Byrne "Re-launch" in 1986 I collected almost every issue of Superman and a lot of issues of Action Comics. By the mid-80's I started to tire of Superman and so did a lot of my fellow comic book readers from coast-to-coast, hence DC saw the need for the re-boot. I enjoyed the John Byrne era on the Fantastic Four so I was really excited about him putting his spin on Superman. I picked-up the last few issues of Superman and Action for the nostalgia element and really enjoyed the Alan Moore story "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?". It was a great bookend to the greatest run in Superman comics. Once the New Superman stories were underway I really dug John Byrnes stories and art and really liked what Jerry Ordway was doing on the Adventures of Superman title. I was under the impression that John Byrne would stay on Superman books for a long run as he did with the Fantastic Four (#220, 1980 - #293, 1986) . It wasn't to be...Byrne left the book with Superman #22…NOT EVEN 2 YEARS!!! After he left, I stuck around for a few issues but I was entering my Senior year of High School and my interest in Superman and comics in general started to fade. I took a break from comics for my Senior year, 1989, and for a while after. I joined the Marine Corps Reserves thinking I could just serve one weekend a month and 2 weeks in the summer so I could make money for college. August 10, 1990 changed my plans. Iraq invaded Kuwait and the United States started calling up Reserve forces and deploying them to Saudi Arabia. My unit was activated in October of 1990 and I ended up in Camp Pendleton, CA from October 1990-January 1991. While training for our deployment I found myself in the PX (Post Exchange) and found comics once again! I purchased a few and took them overseas with me. After Desert Shield/Desert Storm I came back home, met my wife-to-be and worked some dead end jobs. It wasn't until 1994, when I began attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, that I began to collect comics again. Because I was attending the Art Institute in downtown Pittsburgh and downtown has one of the best comic shops around, Eides Comics and Records, I renewed my passion for the comic art form. After graduating, I had a good Graphic Design career and a good, stable, well paying job. Around the year 2000, I had the idea that it would be fun to have a large chunk of Superman comics to read at my leisure. I decided to read from around the time I was born in 1970 to the end of the 1938 series in 1986. I began to pick-up back issues of Superman which, at the time, were very reasonably priced. All, was going well until September 11, 2001. The steady job started to get "shaky" and eventually I lost the job in 2004. (The company I worked for doesn't even exist anymore) This put my acquiring back issues of Superman in jeopardy. It took a while, but in late 2004 I did get another design job. This time though, it was not a "good" design job...more like a sweat shop with ownership watching over your shoulder every minute and timing your bathroom breaks. Still, I was able to resume filling in the back issue holes of the Superman collection. All was going pretty well but then yet another economic crisis hit. I lost my job again in late 2011. (There were other factors too but I was kind of relieved to be out of the watchful eye of big brothers). Even though I was at the top of my game, I was not as successful recovering and getting another graphic design job. I tried freelancing but it was a really tough market. After bouncing around a few non-art jobs, I ended up as a Supervisor at a site for a security company. The pay wasn't as good as my graphic design jobs but there was a lot of work and OT to help make-up for  the pay deficit. During this time, I was able to acquire the last few issues needed to complete my Superman #200-#423 collection. 223 issues of Superman greatness...mostly illustrated by Curt Swan.

So now, we get to the part I've been waiting almost 20 years for; rereading Superman #200-#423. I look forward to sharing images, thoughts and maybe some miscellaneous facts of these Bronze Age gems printed on newsprint intended for mass consumption. Enjoy! -Loran.