Jerome Siegel's writing career began early in his life. When he was 14, he created his first comic booklet called Cosmic Stories, which was advertised in the classified section of Science Wonder Stories. It was later known as the first sci-fi fanzine and he continued to publish several other booklets over the next few years. While in high school, Siegel wrote for his school's weekly newspaper, The Torch. He garnered some acclaim from peer for a Tarzan parody, "Goober the Mighty." After meeting Joe Shuster, the two began collaborating on comics and eventually broke into the field in 1935 with Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson's New Fun, which debuted strips with Henri Duval and Doctor Occult.
Birth of Superman
In 1932, Siegel and Shuster printed a fanzine known as "Science Fiction". Science Fiction #3 featured a story known as "The Reign of the Super-Man". The Super-Man in this story was bald villain who wanted to take over the world with his telepathic vision. The story was not well received so they decided to make Superman a hero after. They redesigned the character in 1932 and created Superman comic in 1933. Unfortunately, they were rejected from every publisher. Consolidated Book Publishing gave the duo an encouraging letter, but they had ceased publishing comic books. Other publishers wanted to avoid lawsuits since the character was very similar to Hugo Danner, the lead hero in Philip Wylie's Gladiator. Shuster took the rejection hard and destroyed the artwork in a fire, but Siegel saved the cover from the blaze.
Over the next three years, while working on New Fun, they continued to work on their Doctor Occult character, while developing their co-creation Superman. Max Gaines, publisher of the All American label, sent the pair to Sheldon Mayer who was working on another title known as Action Comics. Shuster and Siegel gave Sheldon a cover art for his new title of Superman lifting a car. Sheldon took a chance on the Superman character and agreed to publish their Superman story in June 1938. Action Comics #1 sold out and every Action Comics after did so too. Superman was a big hit. By 1941, they were both on salaries of $75,000.
After the decade-long contract to create Superman came to a close, Siegel and Shuster sued National for the rights of their characters. They left the company and reunited with their previous editor Vin Sullivan, who was now the owner of Magazine Enterprises, and created the character Funnyman. Into the early 1950s, Siegel became the art director for Ziff-Davis, another publisher. Siegel would later come back to DC Comics and write uncredited Superman stories for a brief amount of time. In 1967, Siegel once again sued DC for the Superman rights.
Siegel would later work for Marvel Comics under both the pseudonym "Joe Carter" for a few stories with the "Human Torch" and his own name for a backup feature with Angel. Siegel wrote for many other comics during this time as well. He had a stint with Charlton Comics, Archie Comics and Western Publishing.
In 1986, Julius Schwartz offered a final story for Superman to Siegel, but the author declined. This concept was later given to Alan Moore and became " Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"
In 1992 Siegel was inducted into the Eisner Awards' Comic Hall of Fame.
In 2005 (deceased) he was honored with the first Bill Finger Award at San Diego Comic Con. The award was given out by the late Jerry Robinson (creator of the Joker). The award honors artists/writers who never got their due credit.
Jerome Siegel was born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 17, 1914. Seventeen years later in 1931 he met his soon to be friend Joe Shuster. Joe was very interested in Jerry’s work and soon they began working together.
Siegel died on January 28th, 1996 in Los Angeles, California. He was posthumously awarded the Bill Finger Award For Excellence in Comic Book Writing in 2005.
Characters Created by Jerry Siegel
Gim Allon (Colossal Boy)
Salu Digby (Shrinking Violet)
Pat Dugan (S.T.R.I.P.E.)
Legion of Super Pets
Luornu Durgo (Duplicate Girl)
Matter Eater Lad
Sylvester Pemberton (Star Spangled Kid)
Reep Daggle (Chameleon Boy)