Bye Bye Man of Steel

Well, just received an AP report saying that Kirk Alyn - the first actor to play Superman in ANY format, be it stage, screen or radio - passed away today. It saddens me greatly.

Mind you, I didn’t even know he was still alive. He dropped out of sight completely after Superman II, and even that was only an uncredited cameo that only the most die-hard cult followers of the films even recognize. But still, it’s been a hard couple years for fans of the Man.

Joe Shuster (co-creator, original artist) passed away some time ago, but Jerry Siegel (co-creator, original writer) died just a year or two ago. Arguably his definitive artist, Curt Swan, my personal hero, shuffled off the mortal coil not long ago, following Sheldon Mayer who’d been responsible for bringing Superman to the publisher’s attention in the first place. And then of course, Chris Reeve’s accident a few years back.

It tears me apart that an icon I so adore, which brings me such great joy, seems punctuated by these moments of loss and sadness … and worse that a hero who flies so high and alludes to such great possibilities in the human spirit should be so often touched by this fragile, mortal sadness.

So I’m sad again today. When I go back to my drawing table and put pen to paper, I’m going to find myself staring at the faces of my creations, my renderings, wondering if they will outlive me, and what forms they would take in the hands of others. Hoping I can be proud to have been the integral part of them …

And this weekend, as is tradition when we lose “one of our own,” a bunch of us will gather at my house and talk about all the heroes we’ve lost, and dread the day we lose even more … and toasting in their honor, we’ll remember that one day we too will die, and so we mourn the chinks in our armor of perceived immortality.

There should be a word for the longing created when a representation of your ideals is gone …

Sad, sad, sad Jonny today.

-An epistle most prosaic, courtesy of Calamity Jon.

How sad…

Yer pal,

Hang on. Shuster, Seigel, and Alyn were not exactly young pups. They lived to reasonable old age.

Lots of the early movie and radio stars, directors, writers, etc. are gone. Yes, OK, it’s sad, it’s a loss, but it’s not as though the “icon…seems punctuated by these moments…”

Untimely death or accident (like Reeve) is one thing. Death at the conclusion of a long life is … well, OK, all death is tragic, all death involves loss, but there’s a difference. A big difference.

I’ve been wondering where to put this story I’ve been carrying around for so long, and this seems as good a place as any.

I met one of my favorite comics creators at a convention years ago, just six months before he died. I told him I was from Texas and that seemed to prompt him to tell what happened to him in his youth.

The first time he ever set foot outside of New York City was after he was drafted into the Army in 1944 and sent to Fort Hood in Texas for basic training. After that, he was sent to Europe and landed at Normandy the day after D-Day. So many men still littered the beach, he said it was difficult to avoid stepping on one. And it was the first time he’d ever seen one dead body, let alone hundreds. After that, he went on to Patton’s Fifth Army and was part of Patton’s mad, brilliant rush across Europe.

My idol almost didn’t make it himself. He caught pneumonia that winter and nearly died. But when he recovered, he re-joined the Fifth just in time to see the shattered remains of Berlin… and something else.

He saw with his own, twenty-something eyes what the Nazis had done to six million people. He saw one of the death camps. Being descended from Russian Jews himself, it made quite an impact on him, to put it mildly.

I asked him if he had seen the Museum of Tolerance here in Los Angeles, and he said, “No. I don’t need to be reminded.”

I said that I was lucky, since I had been born too late to have been drafted into Vietnam or any other conflict, and this man who had never laid eyes on me before that day took me by the shoulder and said, “I’m glad.”

The man’s birth name was Jakob Kurtzman.

We knew him better as Jack Kirby.

Last year, the Batman-Superman cartoon dedicated an episode to Kirby and when I saw the dedication, I wept. Not just because of what we lost, but also because of what we gained for having him.

After that, he went on to Patton’s Fifth Army and was part of Patton’s mad, brilliant rush across Europe.

Georgie was good but not that good…make that Third Army. :slight_smile:

Lex Non Favet Delictorum Votis


But how did you like the rest of the story?

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

Nothing special to add to this thread. Just wanted to bring it up on top (even temporarily) so other Dopers can read what they’ve missed the first time around.

How ironic you dod that, Omnescientnot.

If you look at the date of this thread, it was started in June and nobody responded to it even once. So I, wondering what would happen and if anyone would notice, posted to it.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t 03-15-99 mean MARCH 15, 1999 and not June?

(Of course, I didn’t remember which army Patton commanded, but…)

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

Hey, big S. I really hadn’t noticed the initial date. IMHO, Calamity and Jab’s posts are worth reading for their simplicity and genuineness. Hope others will keep the thread alive and perhaps even add to it - at least in a more substantive way than I have.

This has definitely been a rough few years for lovers of comic book history, and the losses will continue.

Comic books are a fairly young American art form – younger than jazz and movies and radio, other important pieces of 20th century pop culture. Comic books also were created by young men, by boys in some cases.

So other art forms lost their founders years ago. Now it’s time for the comics to lose theirs.

Other people have described that loss far more eloquently than I could. I’ll just say that the Kirbys and Siegels of the world helped a hell of a lot of people have a hell of a lot of fun. Quite an accomplishment.

Up, up and away!