all artwork copyright by DC Comics, Inc.

6/8/13

 RETURN TO JOE SHUSTER PART 1

In the meantime, a new company had arisen which actually managed to get comic books to the newsstands on a semi-regular basis.  Jerry and Joe sent an envelope full of story ideas to Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, the publisher of New Fun Comics in New York, and received a response back in June 1935.  Two features were accepted  on the condition that Joe redraw them on proper drawing paper.  They were so poor, the originals had been done on the backs of old wallpaper rolls!  For the grand total payment of $20, the boys were now in the comic book business!

Henri Duval (a French Musketeer strip)  first appeared in New Fun Comics #6 in October 1935.  Siegel and Shuster only did two episodes of  this strip before turning it over to other hands. Dr Occult also debuted in New Fun #6. Siegel and Shuster's run on this highly-imaginative foray into the supernatural lasted until More Fun #32 (June 1938)
Two stories they did for Nicholson mysteriously appeared in Centaur Publications' The Comics Magazine, a Doctor Occult story, retitled Dr. Mystic, and Federal Agent Bart Regan, a four page story done for a proposed new Wheeler-Nicholson title that hadn't even been scheduled yet.  Had the former editors skipped with some art work to make up for never having been paid?  Did Wheeler-Nicholson give it to them, in lieu of money he didn't have? Or were Siegel and Shuster preparing to skip out for greener pastures?

The Comics Magazine #1 May 1936.

The  story continued in More Fun #14 in October 1936,once again titled Dr. Occult. Occult found himself teamed up with a mystic group called the 7, battling a strange creature called Koth. By the time More Fun #16 rolled around Occult was flying and wearing a red cape and boots!  Calling All Cars,starring Sandy Kean replaced Henri Duvall on the Siegel and Shuster roster in July 1936,.  They did six pages that month, total, for new editor Vin Sullivan.  Calling All Cars, later known as Radio Squad ran from More Fun #11-87. Joe turned it over to other hands after #49 in November 1939.

 From More Fun #16

from More Fun Comics #22

 

Federal Men, starring Steve Carson debuted in New Comics #2 in January of 1936 (4 whole pages!)  Ominously, the name of the publishing company changed form National Allied to More Fun Inc.  The editors disappeared and were replaced by new faces.  And promised payments failed to materialize.  But Siegel and Shuster soldiered on.  Joe used his mother's bread board as a drawing board and worked late at night after finishing his day job delivering groceries  (at least that job actually paid.)  The story in New Comics #10 (November 1936) wasn't set in the future.  No, these giant robots and the super-scientific island they came from were right off the coast of modern day New York!  Two issues later though, Jerry and Joe presented the Federal Men of Tomorrow featuring Jor-L, a Federal Man from 3000 AD.  The story was a dream sequence.  After it was over the strip returned to "normal".

Spy from Detective #27

     

Bart Regan, Spy mysteriously debuted as Federal Agent in The Comics Magazine #2 in June 1936.  The material was intended for Nicholson's new magazine but apparently departed the premises along with the former editor.   Finally in March 1937, Detective Comics #1 featured the official debut.   Four pages of Bart Regan- Spy were joined by 13 pages of Slam Bradley.  Now Shuster could really go to town.  His artwork opened up with large, crowded panels and action scenes on every page!  His style began to really develop.  Slam Bradley also began in Detective #1. Slam quickly became Joe's tour de force where he unleashed all of his artistic talent in a combination of science fiction machines, giant skyscrapers, beautiful girls, comic sidekicks and relentless fisticuffs.  Slam himself was a dead ringer for Clark Kent without his glasses.  The strip was popular enough to continue long after Siegel and Shuster had left for other things, lasting up until Detective 152.
In June 1938, Siegel and Shuster did 31 pages for Detective Comics, Inc.- not including a new series for their latest title.  For over a year editor Vin Sullivan had been trying to assemble some good features for a proposed companion magazine to Detective Comics, sometimes called Thrilling Comics, sometimes Action Funnies, without much luck.  Comic books were a chancy business and it wasn't worth launching a new title without something catchy to make it work.  At the same time, 21 year old Sheldon Mayer (who had left More Fun, Inc when Wheeler-Nicholson didn't pay him)  was working for the McClure Syndicate looking at new comic strip submissions.  He found Siegel and Shuster's Superman and loved it, passing it on to his boss, M. C. Gaines.  Gaines, who sold printing on the side, decided to send the strip to Vin Sullivan, hoping to get the contract to print the resulting comic book.  Sullivan loved the strip and realized the people who did it were already working for him.

Soon, the strips were winging their way back to Cleveland.  They needed to be redone as comic book pages-- now -- today, with not a minute to spare.  Out came the scissors, out came the white paint.  An Action Comics logo was pasted across an early drawing of Superman (featuring the original 'S' design that had already been abandoned inside).  Panels were tossed away.  Sequences were shortened.  Thirteen pages were assembled and mailed back to New York.  There they were bundled with some other features on hand and sent off to the engravers, where Ed Eisenberg colored the Superman story and left most of the rest of the book in black and white.  On April 18, 1938 Action Comics #1, starring Superman, went on sale.

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