Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Episode #76: Happy Birthday, Wayne Boring!

PODCAST NOTE: I was finally able to upload episode #75 on Tuesday morning on the mypodcast.com web site. If you subscribe to the Superman Fan Podcast mypodcast.com feed, and the latest episode seems to be late, you may want to check the gcast feed at http://gcast.com. The link to the Superman Fan Podcast gcast feed is http://www.gcast.com/u/Billy_H80/http_supermanfanpodcast_gcast_com_rss_xml.xml . Episodes are also available on the internet archive at http://archive.org/ .

While researching this episode I was surprised to find a web site dedicated to the late Superman artist Wayne Boring, http://wayneboring.com/ . It contains a brief biography as well as a number of great links. One link is the reprint (with permission) of an interview with Wayne Boring, published in the now defunct magazine Amazing Heroes issue #41, from February 15, 1984, done by Richard Plachter. Then there are several art biographies, complete with art samples, from http://comics.org/, the blog Cartoonist Greats at http://cartoonistgreats.blogspot.com/ , http://lambiek.net/, Comic Art & Graffix Gallery artist bio, and a link to a sample of Wayne Boring Superman art at the Heritage Auctions web site. Links to these sights are at the bottom of the Wayne Boring web site. As far as I can tell it is not affiliated with his family but is produced by a fan of his art.This web site, along with the wikipedia page on Wayne Boring, and http://dcindexes.com/ and http://comics.org/ provided the bulk of the information in this episode.

Wayne Boring was born on June 5, 1905, a fellow Minnesotan with another Superman artist, Curt Swan. Boring died in February 1987 of a heart attack in Pompano Beach, Florida. As Curt Swan was the definitive Superman artist from the 1960's through the mid-1980's, Wayne Boring was the definitive Superman artist of the 1950's, with his depiction of a big, barrel chested Man of Steel. In fact, Boring's career bridged the Siegel and Shuster era and Swan's own.
He attended the Minnesota School of Art and studied anatomy at the the Chicago Art Institute, where he studied with J. Allen St. John, the original illustrator of the Tarzan stories.

Boring was hired by Siegel and Shuster for their Cleveland studio. Both the comics.org link and the Wayne Boring web site state that Boring began working with Siegel and Shuster as a ghost artist on their features Slam Bradley, Spy, and Dr. Occult in 1937 via mail. According to the Amazing Heroes interview, Jerry Siegel had placed an ad in Writer's Digest. At the time Boring lived in Norfolk, Virginia and worked as an advertising artist at the Virginia Pilot newspaper. He said that he earned a decent income at the Pilot, but wanted to be a cartoonist, like his favorites, Frank Godwin (creator of the strips Rusty Riley 1948-1959, about a read haired orphan and his dog, the fox terrier Flip, and Connie 1927-1944) and James Montgomery Flagg, creator of the Uncle Sam "I Want You" army poster and the comic strip Nervy Nat.

Jerry Siegel asked Boring to meet him in New York City, according to the A. H. article. Wayne took a leave of absence from the newspaper and met Jerry at Grand Central Station, and then went to Joe's apartment. Boring said that Joe lived in a"rathole" apartment on 3rd Avenue, which had the elevated subway train tracks outside his window. The room was so small Boring had to step over the bed to get the other side of the room. Boring described Joe as a timid guy who wore elevator shoes. When Wayne was hired by Siegel and Shuster he moved to Cleveland and was joined by fellow artists Paul Cassidy, Leo Nowak and John Sikela (who were featured in episode #17: The Artists Of Jerry Siegel's And Joe Shuster's Cleveland Studio).

Boring described the studio as a 12' x 12' room with four drawing tables; Jerry Siegel had a desk in the anteroom. He described how the team would work. Joe would lightly sketch the art, which would be finished by the other artists. According to Boring Joe would have some hand problems to go along with his poor eyesight. He saw Joe come to the office at one point wearing a leather glove which immobilized his hand, which had been prescribed by a doctor.

Boring recounted an interview Jerry and Joe gave to the Saturday Evening Post magazine in the studio. Wayne worked at one of the drawing tables with his back to everyone, until one of the Post staffers asked him to leave because they needed the room.

Wayne felt that at first DC Comics top executives Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz did not know that Siegel and Shuster had their own staff of artists. He remembered a time when the two DC executives traveled to Cleveland. According to Boring, they got into an argument with Jerry because they wanted him to concentrate on writing Superman stories instead of his other characters. Along with pre-Superman creations Slam Bradley, Dr. Occult and Federal Men, Jerry also wrote Red White and Blue, The Spectre, Star Spangled Kid and Robotman. Having grown up during the struggles of the Depression, Jerry wanted to write it all. Boring also characterized the deal Siegel and Shuster signed with DC as "a swindle".

Not only would Siegel and Shuster eventually sue DC Comics, but Boring claimed they also sued him for breach of contract. According to Boring, he talked to Jack Liebowitz, who said that the Superman creators had sued DC, and asked Boring to work exclusively for them. Boring didn't give a date for when this transpired, but the Siegel and Shuster lawsuit occurred in the late 1940's. Wayne Boring did work for DC Comics on the Superman comic strip beginning in 1942.

To read more about this studio, go to Marc Tyler Nobleman's blog Noblemania at
http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2008/06/sign-of-joe-shusters-success.html .

Boring's first confirmed story credit was for the third story of Action Comics #42, September 1938, published around August 15, 1939, a Federal Men feature written by Jerry Siegel. Wayne's first cover was for Action Comics #25, the June 194o issue, published around April 23, 1940. It showed Superman flying over water, with men in a boat shooting at him. His first credited Superman story was for Superman #5, the Summer 1940 issue, published on May 10, 1940, the first thirteen page tale, The Slot Machine Racket. Boring also drew the cover for this issue, showing Superman rip the bars off of a window.

After Siegel and Shuster lost their lawsuit, new Superman editor Mort Weisinger brought in Boring, Al Plastino, Curt Swan and others into his stable of Superman artists in 1948. . Win Mortimer took over the Superman comic strip and Boring began his legendary run on Supemran comics through the 1950's. He would provide Superman covers regularly through 1957. His last Superman cover were for Superman #113, May 1957, for the story The Superman Of The Past, and Action Comics #231, August 1957, for the story Sir Jimmy Olsen, Knight Of Metropolis. Boring's last cover overall was for Showcase #10, September/October 1957, the second Showcase issue to feature Lois Lane. (She would get her own title beginning with the cover date of March/April 1958.) His last story was for Action Comics #359, December 1967, titled The Kryptonite Rumble. When Curt Swan became the main Superman artist around 1960, Boring would return to the Superman comic strip. Wayne said that Weisinger fired him in 1966. Wayne Boring recalled a stormy but productive relationship with editor Mort Weisinger, who was known for the abuse of his talent. Boring quipped during the magazine interview that he was afraid if he went to hell, he'd find Mort Weisinger in charge.

The day after being fired from DC, Boring was hired by Prince Valiant comic strip artist Hal Foster as a ghost artist on the strip. He would also work on two other comic strips, Davey Jones with Sam Leff and Rip Kirby with John Prentice.

In his latter years Wayne Boring would work as a security guard at a bank. He also kept an interest in art by taking up painting, which he said improved his drawing. He wished he had begun painting years earlier.

Wayne Boring's last published work was for Secret Origins #1, April 1986, published on January 10, 1986. Jerry Ordway drew the cover for the Boring drawn story titled The Secret Origin Of The Golden Age Superman which was written by Roy Thomas.

Wayne Boring died of a heart attack in Pompano Beach, Florida.

The Superman stories of Wayne Boring have been reprinted in DC's various Archives and Showcase Presents editions, as well as two editions of reprints from the Superman comic strip, three volumes of the daily strips and one volume of the Sunday strips, in hardcover and paperback editions.

Here are some highlights from Wayne Boring's long career drawing Superman. The inker for all of the stories and cover listed here was Stan Kaye, who would also be one of Curt Swan's inker.:

The Origin Of Superman, the first story from Superman #53, July/August 1948, published on May 5, 1948. This ten page story was the first detailed Superman origin story, published on the character's tenth anniversary. It was written, appropriately, by Bill Finger. This story was reprinted in the trade paperbacks The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman From The 30's To The 70's and Superman In The Forties.

Wayne Boring pencilled the cover to Superboy #1, March/April 1949, published on January 8, 1949.

The Super Key To Fort Superman was the first story in Action Comics #241, June 1958, published around April 29, 1958. The twelve page story was written by Jeryr Coleman. This was the first Superman story which featured Superman's Fortress of Solitude as we know it today, although there were some changes in its depiction in the years to come. The story was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archives vol. I and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. 1.

The eight page Titano The Super Ape story appeared in Superman #127, February 1959, published around December 18, 1958. Otto Binder wrote this story about a chimp that is exposed to radiation and mutated to a giant ape with the ability of shooting kryptonite beams out of his eyes. It was reprinted in Superman In The Fifties, Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archives vol. II and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I.

The Girl From Superman's Past appeared in Superman #129, May 1959, published around March 19, 1959 and was written by Bill Finger. This ten page story marked the first appearance of Lori Lemaris, the mermaid. She would make periodic appearances in Superman comic books even to this day.

Superman's Other Life was published in Superman #132, October 1959 and appeared on newsstands on August 6, 1959. Otto Binder wrote this full length story, 25 pages, about a different type of "imaginary story". Batman and Robin used the Univac computer in Superman's Fortress Of Solitude to give Superman a unique birthday gift, a look at what his life might have been like if Krypton had not exploded. Surprisingly, it was not a totally idyllic story for Kal-El. This story was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. II and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at http://supermanfanpodcast.mypodcast.com/ , http://www.gcast.com/u/Billy_H80/http_supermanfanpodcast_gcast_com_rss_xml.xml and the internet archive at http://archive.org/ . Send e-mail to supermanfanpodcast@gmail.com . the theme music for this podcast is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royalty free music library of the web site http://incompetech.com/ .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at http://mypulllist.blogspot.com/ . Send e-mail about this blog to mypulllist@gmail.com .
Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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