An article in last week’s IJN on Superman’s Jewish creators piqued further interest. The article focuses on the sad tale of how creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel lost out on royalties to their own creation when they sold their rights for, wait for it, $130. Jews — often the children of Eastern European immigrants — played an outsized role in the conception and development of the comics industry. It seems the fantasy world of comics gave its Jewish artists — at that a relatively powerless minority group — the opportunity to fantasize about being able to dominate those who would seek to destroy or marginalize them. Novelist Michael Chabon explored this is his excellent Pulitzer Prize winning 2000 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
For the greater American public, super heroes were fighting for truth, justice and the American way. For its Jewish creators, that motto may have taken on a special meaning.
The Jewishness of Superman’s creators didn’t pass the Nazis by. Indeed when in 1940 Look magazine published a spread on how Superman would end the war, the SS newspaper Das schwarze Korps hit back exposing the “Israelite” “Saducee” creator behind the superhero.
Here are a few of those real figures, and the characters they created.
Stan Lee, born Stanley Lieber & Jack Kirby
Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, X-Men
Spider-Man (with Steve Ditko)
Jack Kirby, born Jakob Kurtzberg & Joe Simon, born Hymie Simon
Timely (predecessor to Marvel)
Bill Finger, born Milton Finger & Bob Kane, born Robert Kahn
Credited with creating the genre “graphic novel”
We know we’re missing more than a few — both artists and characters. Post in a comment to fill in.