Siegel, (Jerome) Jerry(1914– ) cartoonist; born in Cleveland, Ohio; and Shuster, (Joseph) Joe (1914–92) cartoonist; born in Toronto, Canada. Shuster's family had moved to Cleveland when he was nine years old and the two youths teamed up to do cartoons and comic strips while still in high school. They first appeared in an amateur comic book in 1935 and enjoyed their first success as professionals with a strip called "Slam Bradley" for Detective Comics. Siegel evidently had proposed the idea for a "man of steel" and Shuster had drawn him as early as 1934, but it was 1938 before the latter first appeared as "Superman" in the June issue of Action Comics. Although the strip was an immediate success and Siegel (stories) and Shuster (drawings) went on to produce it for many years, they had sold the rights away completely and did not profit from the many spin-offs, including the early serial movies. By 1975, when Warner Communications was clearly making a fortune from the new film version starring Christopher Reeve, there was such a public outcry when it was discovered that Siegel and Shuster were nearly destitute that Warner granted each an annual pension of $20,000, which provided them with modest comfort as well as belated recognition.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.