Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Very extensive site

Here's a link to the Superman Homepage. It's a vast website, which I have barely begun to explore. It's got an image gallery that I go back to again and again. Really great and useful stuff. A quick glance reveals that there's something called the Superman Web Ring. Have to check that out further.

it's also got a very brief thread about Obama as Superman, including a picture I hadn't come across yet (also including one of Obama as Green Lantern).

Friday, March 27, 2009


I almost forgot to post pictures. What was I thinking?

This one's been out since last October, but it's worth noting that there's a comic series called Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves, or something like that. I think it's interesting that this cover seems to pair Superman with the vampire, which I would have thought a no-brainer to put against Batman.

The Superman in Us All

Among the many uses of the term Superman is its application to specific real people. Here are a few instances:

Superman Ahmet, a Turkish diplomat.

Blake Griffin, a basketball player. The name is applied to lots and lots of sports stars, but this one seems sort of critical. The writer seems to be saying that it's not enough to be Superman on a sports team; you have to lead a team, not carry it. I can't help but think of all the comics that stress Superman's leadership role, in the Justice League and out of it. Is his leadership not part of the popular conception? What's the difference between leading and inspiring?

Li Ka-Shing, investor. In this case, it seems to indicate that he's just really good at what he does, which is to make money.

Sebastian O'Hare, survivor of a nearly fatal car crash, who's showing his doctors what they can do with their prognoses of death, coma, and parapalegia.

I've already mentioned Dwight Howard once before on this weblog, but it's good to see it again.

If I had to guess what quality of basketball makes it so common to label its players Superman (and there are lots of examples I haven't included here), I'd say it's because they jump really high. In addition, people tend to conceive of Superman as someone who doesn't need help. (See Lois' comment in the '78 movie: "You've got me...who's got you?" Nobody. He flies on his own.) Basketball is a team sport that often is dominated by one key player on a team. I think Jordan exemplified this, and especially relevant were the two years during which he "retired" for the first time, which are a break in the long streak of Bulls' championships. They won again when he came back. Whether it's leadership, inspiration, or intimidation, I cannot say. The point is, the sport is dominated by singular players. (Yes, I know there are counterexamples. The Pistons and current Celtics. But the fact that I can't even name another player on the Cavaliers must mean something.)

So Superman is somebody who's really good at what they do, whether that be recovering from injuries, playing sports, or making money. There's probably fodder here for another post on the romanticly conceived notion of a Superman.

Monday, March 23, 2009


In case you were wondering, Nic Cage really did name one of his kids after Superman.

Superman is also a handy way to describe and promote carbon nano-tubes.

Evidently in India, Superman spends most of his time dancing and singing. Seems about right to me. Have you ever seen an Indian film? This is particularly notable for the completely incomprehensible line "The grasslands have invited us to come to them./And when we went there they laughed asking us about the bed." Maybe it makes sense if you're more familiar with India. Or maybe the subtitles are badly translated. Or something.

Hmmm...not sure what to make of this one. It's a news article describing the Penn Libraries' superhero program, which presently includes an exhibit about superheroes and the ancient world. It's kind of vague, but kids seem to like it.

And then there's the Pakistan Observer. I leave interpretation up to you:

I watched as a rather thin Obama in Superman’s uniform threw a rope around the Empire State building then attempted to pull. Nothing happened as the American President, heaved and puffed away, till I heard the lady next to me shout, “Dive into the river Obama and push America up!”Obama seemed to have heard as he took a flying leap into the Hudson and didn’t surface for sometime as the crowd waited impatiently on the riverbank.

Couch Potato

I haven't had a chance to watch all of the documentary Confessions of a Superhero, but what I've seen so far is interesting. You've got what we might consider the whole pantheon of popular culture on display in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. There's a lot more to be said about it once I get through the whole thing. (via; it's on Interestingly, the movie's website it

I bring this up here partly because the image for the documentary is Superman lying on a couch. This is an image I keep encountering in cartoons. Either Superman is slovenly or old or just plain exhausted. But he becomes a couch potato.

Superman on the Couch is also the title of Danny Fingeroth's exploration of the meaning of superheroes. It's an analysis of the genre as a whole, but he has a lot to say about Superman in particular, as he should. He's got lots of stuff about fantasy, about orphans, etc. It's a pretty good book. I notice that the cover shows a generic super hero undergoing therapy--which is the reference to the "couch" of the title. It's the psychologist's couch, not the potato's couch. Still, it's not Superman reclining there, probably for copywright or trademark reasons. I wonder if you can't copywright the word superman but you can secure the image. Maybe they address this in the documentary above. In light of Superman in therapy, there's this (I have no idea who drew this; I'd like to know):

And this, by Mark Parisi. Cartoonists just love Superman.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No real link between the different links.

One of the reasons I became interested in Superman, intellectually speaking, is the way kids respond to the character. I'm working on compiling a bibliography for this site, in which I'll have sections devoted to all sorts of topics--one of which will be the way kids pretend to be Superman. This post, from the, is sort of related to that. It's about heroism.

Heroism is perhaps the most important aspect of the Superman theme. Or meme. Or mythos. I'm working on the right term to describe the stories and thoughts that surround the character. I guess it's a mythology, in which there are subversive strains, and in which grow several memes that manifest themselves in oral tradition and popular culture as well as mass-mediated art. I'm thinking of the "superman isn't perfect" meme that has been the subject of most of my writing on Superman so far.

Anyway, one of the things that writers like to do is compare Superman to human heroes. Like this, from the article I linked to above:

We all try to aspire towards our heroes. 'I wanna be like Superman' is usually the types of phrases that we hear. Our children always want to be the cool, superhero types. What if I were to tell you that a modest 'superhero' type of person lived in New York City and did the most unselfish thing in the world? He saved a man's life from the nasty subway tracks.

This is an interesting fan site, Superman Fan Podcast. It's a lot of comics history, very thorough, from all appearances.

Doing all this research reveals something new all the time, little bits of information that may or may not become useful. For example, there are Canadian awards for comics work called The Joe Shuster Awards. Recently, they posted the final interview with Shuster, who, you should recall, was the man who drew Superman. Here's a bit of it, with another interesting slice of information.

Superman, with his heroic physique and glowing optimism, was patterned largely after Douglas Fairbanks Sr. And Clark Kent his name derived from movie stars Clark Gable and Kent Taylor was a combination of timorous, bespectacled Harold Lloyd and pale, mild-mannered Joe Shuster himself.

And I just have to post more about Obama being Superman. Here's a link to a video. I think my favorite part is the Joker.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A couple of old ones.

This is an interesting site, Identity Crisis: The Many Faces of the Man of Steel. It was put together by three American Studies students at the University of Virginia. I haven't been able to find a firm date, but it looks like it's from 2000. It's sort of an academic take on Superman in website form, including some cultural implications, historical studies, and whatnot. It seems light on content, to tell you the truth, but I haven't gotten through all of it yet.

This one's from last year, but it's funny nonetheless. At a dinner, Obama joked about the many comments at the time that cast him as Jesus. According to (because why wouldn't I link to a Scottish paper for a story about Obama as Superman?):

"Contrary to the rumours you have heard, I was not born in a manger," Mr Obama said."I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth."
The Onion of last year made this curious Superman joke involving Al Gore:

Superman=Kal-Al. It looks like Gore is placing his son into a robotic alligator's mouth. Maybe that's just me. Notice the s-shield has a G on it.

Here's an interesting comment on Six Flags, which evidently has a Superman roller coaster. I had no idea.

This article is one of many, many promotions for the Superman/Batman cartoon coming out, in which the heroes have to fight President Lex Luthor. I have no idea why it's common in comics for ultimate villains to ascend to high political offices. It's happening with a Spiderman villain in Marvel right now, though not to the level of President. What's even more fascinating is that this happened in comics six years ago, though it really didn't get much press that I recall. But when it's a direct-to-dvd video, it's all over the internets. Notice how they attempt to make Superman look menacing in the image by showing only his glowing red eyes.
Then here's a promotion for the Hawaiian island Maui, which is named after a polynesian demi-god. The article's headline reads: "Maui: Superman, Super Farms." The article itself doesn't mention Superman, but does include this bit of trivia about Maui:
So who captured the sun and forced it to slow down to create enough daylight? According to the ancient Hawaiians (and other Polynesian peoples), the demigod Maui can take credit for that impressive feat -- and many more. That answers the question posed by the March 15 Sunday Quiz, which focused on sunny aspects of his namesake island in Hawaii.
Shoot, I knew that one. Missed the deadline.

Monday, March 16, 2009

So my Superman Project relies on folklore for its starting point--jokes, to be specific. But Superman is everywhere, and he's quite prominent in songs. There's one by Five for Fighting called Superman (it's not easy).

I think it's interesting that the first comment on the YouTube page I've linked to is by somebody who doesn't like Superman but does like the song.

Most of the news about Superman right now has to do with a recent auction, at which the first appearance sold for $317,000. Here's a story about it from Australia, just to be different.

Because there's just not enough about Obama being Superman, here's a newspaper article from a while back about the need for heroes.

Here's another about Obama, this time I think there's a lot of sarcasm at work. Hard to tell, though.

And finally, what would this blog be without another picture of Obama as Superman? From Ms magazine, via the blog:

I like how the shape of the shirt as it's pulled open resembles the shape of the s-shield. Is Superman a feminist? There's been some comment on Lois Lane in this regard. I think there's an article in the book Superman in Philosophy. I'll have to dig it up.

Friday, March 13, 2009

This one deserves its own post.

I don't even know if there's anything I can say. First of all, this comes from a website called Second, it's not just Obama as Superman. It's Obama as Dwight Howard as Superman. Third, just look at how white those shoes are. I hope my friend Mike Butterworth at The Agon has something to say about this.

More Obama

I had no idea there were so many images like this.

Two by Gerald Scarfe.

Another t-shirt.

And the wonders of photoshop.

How about a button?

There seem to be a couple of variations on the s-shield. One of them is just the S, as Superman wears it. Another is an O, and the final one is the whole name, Obama. it seems to depend on the preference of whoever makes the image. And, of course, you can get the shield as a t-shirt.

And finally...It could all be true. Or a White House cover-up that will never allow us to know all the facts. You decide:

The White House has rigorously denied any involvement in the alteration of official photographs of the US president Barack Obama, which appeared to remove evidence that President Obama was wearing a Superman T-Shirt inder his white shirt. (courtesy of Newsifact)

I promise I'll get over my Superman-Obama obsession soon.

Truth, Justice, and the Canadian Way

I swear, I'm not posting this just because I'm Canadian.

Joe Shuster was. The visual half of the pair who came up with Superman. And here's a video and brief synopsis of how Superman embodies Canadian values.

On a completely unrelated note...pages you can print and color.

There are a number of fansites out there. People just love some aspect or incarnation of Superman. This one is all about the George Reeves television show...and other stuff.

I read somewhere that somebody was doing a book about blogs that are only one post long. It's a potentially interesting topic. This guy got only seven posts along as of about a year ago, but the essence of the blog, to examine history through comics, was a good one. His first post was about Superman, and he had in it this picture:

I include it here because of the S shield. In my research, I came across a minister extolling the virtues of Superman because, so the argument goes, Superman can bring us closer to the glory of Christ. Part of the proof was the triangular S-shield, which he of course linked to the trinity. I'm not sure when the shield became the more familiar five-sided figure it is today, but it raises lots of questions about where we're supposed to look for meaning. Does anybody look at this and think it's a triangle?

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I suppose the best part about doing this is that it will get me to look at all sorts of things, some of which are hilarious. Like this one, where Lex Luthor asks the government for a hundred billion dollars to bail out his company.

Then there's this, by the comics artist Alex Ross. Apparently it's available as a t-shirt.

And this.

And this.

This stuff is fascinating. While I'm on the subject of Obama as Superman, I'll link to this BBC article from December called "Superman Obama." It makes some interesting points about how various world economies and stock exchanges rose because Obama said he was going to invest in America on an unprecedented scale. Then there's this photo on flickr. Apparently it's by someone named Mr. Brainwash.

Enough for now, I think.

A place for thoughts

Ok, so I'm writing a book about Superman, and I need a place I can store all sorts of links. That's what this blog is about.

I'll start with this movie that acts out a joke. I've been studying this joke for some time now, mostly because of its parallels to the story of Christ's temptation by Satan on top of the temple of Jerusalem. When I started, I saw these two stories as close. Not so much anymore.