Introduction to "Comic Book Numbering"

Comic book numbering used to be a very simple issue - each issue was incremented one number from the preceding issue in a simple natural number sequence starting at issue #1 until infinity.

Occasionally there would be some complications when a series was re-named (often when a key character in an ongoing anthology becomes popular enough for their own title), such as "The Incredible Hulk (1968)" taking over the numbering from "Tales to Astonish (1959)" or "Captain America (1968)" taking over the numbering of "Tales of Suspense (1959)".

However, DC Comics started an inadvertent trend when John Byrne re-structured the Man of Steel in the mid-1980's. All Superman comics (Action Comics and Superman) were taken offline for a few months, and a re-launch re-started Superman (1987) with a new #1, and continued the pre-existing Superman (1939) numbering with "Adventures of Superman (1987)". Superman (2006) re-merged Superman (1987) and Adventures of Superman (1987) to a single title.

Both DC and Marvel comics insisted on the occassional oddly numbered comic (0, -1 for Marvel, 1,000,000 for DC) which made continuity of numbering strange.

Marvel had a mathematical psychotic break and sold off key characters (e.g. Hulk, Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and the Fantastic Four) to a group of artist/writers in the ill-fated "Heroes Reborn" period of about a year in the mid-1990's, each series being re-started as a new #1. This experiment lasted about a year from 1996 to 1997, where the characters were re-introduced into the "real" (616) universe of Marvel in "Heroes Return".

Marvel's marketing department, realizing that "#1" issues had extra purchase value, began randomly re-starting series to generate new #1's. Later, someone woke up and realized that they were missing the chance to capitalize on significant milestone issues (500, 600 etc.) and began to re-number the ongoing series, with mixed success. Some re-numbering was simply the inclusion of series X and series Y of the same character, with the new numbering being the sum. However, with other series, the effect was somewhat confusing (see Hulk).

This site is an attempt to make sense of the numbering issues.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Great Visit of 2014 - Superman's House

The Great Visit of 2014

March 21 to 23rd, 2014 I had the opportunity to visit Cleveland to attend my daughter’s dance competition.  My son and I took the opportunity to visit the home of Superman.

The Superman story is a very interesting tale.  Jerry Siegel (the writer) and Joe Shuster (the artist) began collaborating during High School in Glenville, OH (now part of Cleveland), putting images and articles in the Glenville Torch (high school newspaper).  The submitted stories to early science fiction magazines and wrote fan letters, all with the dream to become newspaper cartoonists, which was a very lucrative and fame-creating role in the depression era.

Superman was not an immediate hit.  It took persistence to keep flogging the character, and they worked on other features in the meantime.  Comic books were in their infancy and the initial ones were re-prints of newspaper comics.

The forerunners of the current DC comics decided to try to produce a comic book with new material, and they had the Superman strips which had been submitted.  Siegel and Shuster re-vamped the daily strip to a single story, and for $160, Superman was the cover feature on Action Comics #1, cover dated June 1938.
Action Comics #1, June 1938 launched the modern super-hero comic.

Nobody predicted the success of the Superman character.  Siegel and Shuster were just happy to find a paying job.  However, as the money started to roll in, and rolled away from Siegel and Shuster, they began to have second thoughts of their “take” on the value of their creation.

Siegel, in particular, had a long series of legal battles with DC Comics over the profits related to Superman.  These cases settled several times, though the value of the character kept increasing, so before the ink was even dry on any particular agreement, it immediately seemed to be ripping off the creators.

The neighbourhood, which would likely have been a working class neighbourhood in the high school days of Siegel and Shuster is now in pretty rough shape.  May homes are borded up, some lots bare.  A few homeowners have kept up their properties, but seem to be losing the battle with time.  Siegel’s house is still present, and well maintained, and does have a family living in it, so it is not a museum.  Decorations and plaques mark the home as being special and keep the memory of what once was alive.

Street signs in the neighbourhood recognize the famous friends - Kimberley Avenue is listed as "Jerry Siegel Lane".  

My son Bennett in front of the house that Jerry Siegel lived in when creating Superman in the 1930's.  Much of the neighbourhood shows the rough times working class Cleveland has gone through, but this house is inhabited and in good shape.

A Superman Logo and a Superman "S" from the early Shuster art adorns the fence in front of the former Siegel home.

The plaque reads:
This is the house where Superman was born.

Writer Jerry Siegel (1914-1996) was a teenaged boy who lived her during the Great Depression, one of the toughest economic times for Cleveland and the country.

Jerry wasn't popular.  He was a dreamer, and he knew how to dream big.  With his best friend, artist Joe Shuster, these two boys created a bright fantasy world of spaceships, strange planets and a a city where a young man in red an blue tights could leap over tall buildings in a single bound.

They called him Superman.

They didn't just give us they world's first super hero....They gave us something to believe in.

The Superman "S" shield as depicted in early Superman works in Action Comics by artist Joe Shuster.

On the top floor you can almost imagine the creation of Superman, and can almost glimpse him in the windows.

Joe Shuster’s home is no longer present, but the location is marked with blown-up pages from Action Comics #1, the first appearance of the Man of Steel, Superman.

We made two visits to this neighbourhood – the first was shocking, as I hadn’t anticipated such a run-down neighbourhood.  However, shock aside, the second visit showed a more positive side – a team of neighbours were spring cleaning the vacant lot across the street from the Siegel home.

Some panels are missing, but this is the lot of the teen home of Joe Shuster, the artist of the Superman creation team.  These panels are from Action Comics #1, which recently sold for over $3 million.

Parkwood is the street that connects Amor (Joe Shuster Lane) amd Kimberley (Jerry Siegel Lane).  It is appropriately called "Lois Lane".

A downloaded image of the Shuster home lot when the fence was more complete.

 A plaque marking the neighbourhood of Siegel and Shuster at E105 St. and St. Clair Ave.

The plaque reads:
Home of Superman
(on front) Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Two Glenville High School students imbued with imagination and talent and passion for science fiction and comics, had dream become reality in 1932.  They created Superman, the first of the superheroes ever to see print.  The 1932 prototype was a villainous suerhero.  Superman then became the hero who has been called the Action Ace, the Man of Steel, and the Man of Tomorrow. 
(on back) Although the success of Superman spawned an entire industry, publishers and newspaper syndicates did not originally accept the creation.  Superman did not appear until 1938 when he became a lead feature on the cover of Action Comics No. 1.  As co-creators of the most famous of mythical beings, Siegal (sic) and Shuster infused popular American culture with one of the most enduring icons of the 20th century.  Superman has appeared in animated series, live-action series, major motion pictures, advertisements, and comic books, where his popularity grows with each generation of readers.

The Ohio Bicentennial Commission
The Ohio Historical Society


A very good book (which I picked up in Cleveland on this particular trip) is called "Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster--the Creators of Superman" by Brad Ricca.
Super Boys

A map can be found around Cleveland (comic book stores and elsewhere) marking milestones in the Superman creation legend.

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