Sunday, July 13, 2008

Episode #28: "The K-Metal From Krypton"!

Another part of Superman history detailed in Gerard Jones' book, Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster began to lose control of their creation with the rejection of their story The K-Metal From Krypton. The web site is an excellent resource to learn everything you might want to know about this obscure story, never published in Superman comic books.The site includes scans of copies of original lettered and inked pages originally done by the Shuster Cleveland studio. A history of the discovery of the script is included, as well as a modern recreation of the story by modern artists, done in the art style of the 1940's. There is more information in this web site than can be shared on a thirty minute podcast. Another source of information about this story can be found in back issues of Alter Ego magazine issues 26, 30 and 37, and is attributed on the web site. Back issues can be ordered at
The story The K-Metal From Krypton was intended for Superman #8 (January / February 1941). The story would have introduced kryptonite to Superman lore, and Superman would have discovered for the first time what it felt like to lose his powers. Kryptonite would have had a different effect on humans, giving them powers as it took away Superman's. Also, Lois Lane would have learned Clark Kent and Superman were the same person about fifty years before she eventually did. And their relationshipo would have certainly evolved in a different direction.
The k-metal web site conjectures that editorial director Whitney Ellsworth would have read this story. He was involved with the Superman radio show, and later with the Adventures of Superman TV show. It leads you to wonder if Ellsworth got the idea for kryptonite for the radio show (where kryptonite first appeared) from this unpoublished story.
This was the beginning of the shift of creative control of Superman from Siegel and Shuster to the DC editorial staff. DC editors also rejected Jerry Siegel's version of Superboy, feeling that a slightly mischievious character was beneath Superman's reputation. DC introduced their version of Superboy in More Fun Comics #101 (January / February 1945). Probably the last straw was when Jerry Siegel was inducted into the army. DC Comics began hiring Superman writers to work directly for them. By the time Jerry Siegel was discharged from the army, he faced a different relationship with DC than befor WWII.
The first evidence of this story's existence appeared as copies of four pages of the script in Jim Steranko's History of Comics, vol. I. In 1988 Mark Waid found a blurred carbon copy of the script in a dusty box in the DC library archive. He recognized the story after having read Steranko's book. Waid retyped the script, exactly as Siegel had written, even with typos, on the same model typewriter that Jerry Siegel had used. In 1994 he showed the script to Alex Ross. After their mini-series Kingdom Come Ross decided his next project should be to illustrate the script, as close to the Shuster style as possible. When DC editors rejected this project he went on to create Superman: Peace on Earth.
The poeple involved with the k-metal web site took on the project themselves. The people involved are: Tor Kinick, Angel Criado, Peter Jones, Bob Rivard, Shane Foley, Randy Sargent and John Bogdanove (the artist of the monthly Superman: Man of Steel comic book).
After studying copies of the original pages, members of the web site conjectured that probably the whole staff of Shuster's Cleveland studio worked on the story.
Along with the recreated pages, still in progress, the web site includes scans of copies of the original pages: 1, 5, 7-9, 11-13, 15, 20, 21 and 23.

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