Jerry Siegel

From Ohio History Central

Jerry Siegel was an American author and one the creators of the Superman comic book character.

Jerome Siegel was born on October 17, 1914, in Cleveland, Ohio. With Joe Shuster, Siegel created the comic book character Superman. Siegel developed the storylines, while Shuster drew the comic. The two creators initially developed Superman as a villain during the 1930s, but they later made him a superhero. In 1936, the partners unsuccessfully attempted to make Superman into a daily comic strip. After this failure, the two men found employment with DC-National Comics (present-day DC Comics). In 1939, DC Comics agreed to publish Superman as a storyline in Action Comics. Superman appeared in the very first issue of this comic.

Due to Superman's popularity, DC Comics developed a separate Superman comic. Siegel and Shuster continued to draw the comic and to develop the storylines, but they grew increasingly unhappy. The two creators signed over their rights to Superman to DC Comics in 1939. Superman proved to be DC Comics' most important and popular character and made a lot of money for the company. During the 1940s, Siegel and Shuster sued DC Comics for a portion of the profits. The two men received royalties for Superboy, another character that they had created. The partners had to forsake all rights to the Superman character.

By the 1950s, both men had left DC Comics. Shuster eventually left the comics business, while Siegel returned to DC during the early 1960s. In 1975, Siegel and Shuster sued DC Comics for a share of the profits once again. They lost this case, but DC Comics agreed to pay each man a yearly stipend of thirty-five thousand dollars. The company also gave credit for Superman's creation to the two men. Siegel died on January 28, 1996. In 1999, the Siegel family successfully won a court case, granting the family fifty-percent ownership of the Superman character.

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