Superman Flag

Here’s something both Mundane and Pointless

You can buy a Superman Flag. It’s blue, with the Superman “S”, like on his chest, in the middle:

http://www.abystyle.com/en/flags/1904-dc-comics-flag-superman-120x70.html
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SUPERMAN-FLAG-BANNER-3X5FT-MARVEL-COMIC-ACTION-SUPER-HERO-SUPER-MAN-/222648029773
https://www.amazon.com/Comics-Superman-Banner-Fabric-Poster/dp/B013VMU9XQ
Ominously, this looks pretty much like the flag Superman put up when (as a result of exposure to Red Kryptonite, that fortunate plot-helping element) Superman declared himself King of Earth:

(Action comics 311 April 1964)

(Interesting note – the page states that this issue was visible on a music stand in the movie A Hard Day’s Night)
Apparently someone liked the idea, because it showed up five years later in Action Comics 381, October 1969:

Only now Superman is Dictator of the Earth. But the cover still shows him with the same flag, again in front of the United Nations. Curt Swan drew both covers, although the stories were by different writers. Red Kryptonite is still at the root of his delusions.

Someone should check Trump’s White House for traces of Red Kryptonite.

I dunno, man. As always, top quality pop cultural trivia research, but I think you might need to brush up on your vexillology.

The first two flags you linked to do seem like the same design as Action Comics 381, but the second two are different, and the cover to #311 appears to have the Superman logo in the upper hoist canton, rather than centred.

I know. That’s why I said “pretty much like” rather than “identical.” They still both have the Superman Shield in the midst of a blue field

Kneel before Kal-El!

(Why does the one from Amazon seem to have bullet holes in it?)

Because it’s not made from one of Kal-el’s baby blankies, and some disgruntled anti-Superman protester fired on it. Duh1

Fair enough. Though interestingly,* in the actual story in #311, the shield is on a white field. And then, in the continuation of the story in #312, the flags have a larger shield, centred on a blue field, just like the one on the cover of #381.

Curt Swan will always be my favourite Superman artist, but continuity wasn’t always his strong suit.

  • Possibly only to me. I’m comfortable with that.

I noticed the repeated cover use of the flag (again) when I was re-bagging my old comics, but didn’t open it up to skim the contents, so I didn’t recall the color inconsistency. But that’s surely a problem of the colorist, right? Not artist Curt Swan’s (although the size and location of the Superman “S” really is his bailiwick).

I honestly don’t know enough about DC’s production process in the 60s to do more than guess. I know pencillers sometimes indicate colour in blue pencil, but I don’t know if Swan did, or to what level of detail (and of course, the colourist can ignore the guide, or it can be changed by an editor).

For that matter, the change in placement of the shield could as easily be the work of the inker, whose impact on the finished product is too often underestimated. Look at the difference between the art in #311, inked by George Klein, and #381, inked by George Roussos — it’s hard to recognise as the same penciller.

None of this is meant as criticism of anyone involved: they were working as fast as they could, producing cheap kids comics for not much money and no credit. That their work has any value 50-odd years later shows their talent.