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What Might Have Been – Superman Comic Strip

Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

After years of failing to get Superman published in one form or another Jerry and Joe, in 1938, got the hero published in a comic book. Superman made Action Comics an instant hit and by the end of 1938 the creators were producing their long-desired newspaper strip that debuted on January 16, 1939.

Early efforts show Jerry trying different formats and plots

Superman as prose villain and as comic book (à la Ace King) hero.


In 1934 Jerry Siegel thought maybe a change of artist would sell the strip. He supposedly contacted a few cartoonists, one we know of is Russell Keaton. Then 25-year-old Keaton had made his bones ghosting the Sunday Buck Rogers for three and a half years, and in 1934 was writing and drawing Dick Calkins’ daily Skyroads comic strip. Correspondence from Jerry to Russell surfaced years ago with Keaton samples of their Superman comic strip.

This version of Superman was an Earthling from the future, not a “strange visitor from another planet” as this script for a possible Sunday strip tells it:

1. In his laboratory, the last man on earth worked furiously. He had only a few moments left.
2. Giant cataclysms were shaking the reeling planet, destroying mankind. It was in its last days, dying….
3. The last man placed his infant babe within a small time-machine he had completed, launching it as —
4. — the laboratory walls caved-in upon him.
5. The time-vehicle flashed back thru the centuries, alighting in the primitive year, 1935 A. D. A passing motorist sighted the metal cylinder…
6. …and upon investigating discovered the sleeping babe within.

The Thoughts and Ramblings of Hardwicke Benthow has more with links to the source material.






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