On today’s date in 1938, Toronto-born cartoonist Joe Shuster and Cleveland’s Jerry Siegel sold their Superman character, who would soon make his first appearance in the Action Comics series, to DC Comics for $130.
After failing to copyright the iconic character, the duo was only paid as staff artists until 1947, by which time Superman had earned widespread popularity. While seeking a fair percentage of royalties, both Siegel and Shuster were fired with the latter ending his drawing career.
By the mid-1970s, Shuster was blind and living alone in an apartment in Queens, N.Y.; however, when the first Superman movie was released in 1978 and brought in $82.5 million, the artists sued and their credits were restored. DC Comics paid each of them $20,000 US a year for life as part of the agreement.
In 1938, Action Comics Issue No. 1 cost readers 10 cents; however, collectors are now paying more than $100,000 for a copy of the iconic first issue.
CANADIAN SUPERMAN COINS
In 2013, the Royal Canadian Mint unveiled seven Superman coins, each depicting different moments in the superhero’s history.
The coins also feature an engraved message – “75 years of Superman” – in the character’s native language, Kryptonian.
One of the coins, a 14-karat gold piece that sold for $750, depicts Superman flying above Metropolis with the famous Fortress of Solitude in the background. The other six coins ranged in price from $29.75 to $129.75, with designs including a 3D hologram of Superman flying and a silver coin depicting Superman in his latest uniform.
In 2014, the Mint unveiled four additional Superman coins, reproducing several colourful iconic images from the comic’s covers. Three of the coins were silver, with face values of $10, $15 and $20, while the fourth coin – struck in gold – had a face value of $100. The mint only produced 10,000 of each silver coin while the gold coin had a limited run of 2,000 pieces.
The 2014 coins were based on art that graced comic book covers in 1938, 1972, 2001 and 2012, including Action Comics No. 1, which features Superman hoisting a green car above his head—arguably the most famous comic book of all time.
The other coins feature images including Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent pulling back his shirt to reveal the S-Shield and Superman in the classic iteration of his costume, taking to the skies with his cape fluttering behind.