Sunday, March 3, 2013

Who Knew? Superman Could Get it For You Wholesale !

For more than seven decades, Superman has entertained the masses. From comic books to television shows and feature films, depictions of the hero from a foreign planet have captivated audiences. But how much do you really know about this superhero?  I am even sure not too many people get around to thinking what the Man of Steel has in his tights; is he circumcised or not? But you will! I bring this up because an event in New York City at the end of January, marked the 75th anniversary of Superman and showcased never-before-seen sketches of a real-life guy who resembles the superhero (I'll explain), while also delving deeply into the character's Jewish heritage.

Now, this latter mention of ethnicity may intrigue you. Some may not be aware that Superman's features may come, in part, from sketches that were drawn of Stanley Weiss, a real-life individual who resembled the image of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster had conjured in his mind. The comic book artist met Weiss on the street in 1945 and was instantly captivated by his look, so he asked if the young man would pose for some sketches. This resulted in pieces of art that have gone widely unseen for the past 70 years.

At the time that the two met, Weiss was only 24. The New York Times reports that chance meeting happened either in New Jersey or at a resort in the Adirondacks. The young man was an accountant who later helped run a family furniture and appliance business. According to Weiss' son, David, his father found the sketches of him ''amusing'', however he did not see them as a big deal. David cited modesty as a family culture. He wrote to the N.Y. Times saying, ''The Jewish family culture I grew up in had a fundamental modesty.'' He did note that the sketches were, for a time, hung on the wall in his home. He contended that his mother seemed proud of the sketches.

When it comes to ethnicity, Weiss isn't Superman's only Jewish connection. Larry Tye, author of  ''Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero'' told the Times that Jewish culture played an important role in crafting Superman's story. Shuster and his co-creator, Jerry Siegel, were both children of European Jewish immigrants -- something that likely impacted their formulation of the character. ''They were planting little hints as to his ethnic heritage and the fact that he was Jewish,'' Tye told the Times. ''It was not just the creators and the publishers and all the people around them that were Jewish -- and I love the idea that the first guy that he comes across, who in his minds-eye looks just like superman, is Jewish as well.''

The Way I See It....among other sentiments that may corroborate this notion is the characters arrival to Earth. While he came as an infant in a rocket ship, Moses arrived as a baby in a basket to the Pharaoh's daughter in the Old Testament. Plus, Superman's name on Krypton was Kel-El, which sounds like the Hebrew for ''voice'' or ''vessel of God.''  So, there you have it. The Clark Kent doppelganger, Superman is purportedly Jewish. Now we, and Lois Lane know what those tights are hiding! 

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