Match to Flame 213

Jul 5, 2024

And then I tiptoed into the exploration of my comic book roots with a story about Jerry Siegel and the creation of Superman. When I was in grade school, I read an encyclopedia entry about Jerry Siegel that said he had lived in Cleveland, and it was beyond inspiring to learn that someone from the area where I lived could actually be responsible for something like Superman. So when Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Mike Sangiacomo learned that I was thinking of doing a story about Superman’s creator, he offered to take me to Jerry Siegel’s old house on Kimberly Avenue in the Cleveland suburb of Glenville. He had met the current owners, and they were nice enough to let him bring an occasional comics pro to take a tour of the home. The Glenville neighborhood where the former Siegel house was located was long past its golden days. The allée of ancient elms that had shaded the avenue were long gone, replaced by yard signs letting potential thieves know that there were no copper pipes in the house to be stolen. As we toured the home, I made sure to stand in all three of the upstairs bedrooms so I could be positive that I had been in the one where, on a hot sleepless summer night, Jerry Siegel had first heard the explosion of a distant planet. Before Mike and I went downstairs, we noticed an opening to the attic in the ceiling. We asked the current owner if he had ever been up there, and he said that he hadn’t. At which point we both blurted out, “GO UP THERE!” The latest auction price for a copy of Action No. 1, which featured the first appearance of Superman, is $3.25 million, so I’m pretty sure that if the owner had found a copy or two up in the attic we would have heard about it by now. Later, the Siegel house would be restored to be maintained as a historic site, and sometime after that, Mike Olszewski, a Cleveland radio personality and writer who was involved with the Siegel house restoration, gifted me with a brick from the old chimney there that had been replaced. It now boasts pride of place on the table next to my drawing board.

From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 13

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