Curating memory

Curating memory 150 150 Paul Levitz

The ACTION COMICS celebration volume is hitting stores this week, so I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts about it and my journey with ACTION. In a way, I came to comics through ACTION, as #300 was brought to me by my babysitter when I was 6, the first comic I remember owning. I’d read others, from the boxes of comics older kids kept in their garages (a Brooklyn behavior of the ’60s), but this one was mine. And it had a subscription ad in it, offering a year more for only $1…a sum I managed to talk my parents out of, and soon the copies were coming through the mail slot, folded and wrapped in a brown wrapper.

I never got to write a story for ACTION, or even a letters page, though some of my ‘house’ pages like DIRECT CURRENTS certainly showed up there. The closest I came is the five page Superman story “The Game,” which is in the celebration volume. Neal Adams and I produced it not knowing whether it would make it into ACTION #1000 itself or get slotted for the celebration. Close, but no cigar.

There are a lot of stories that could have made it into the celebration volume, and a lot of other writers who would have had interesting commentary to offer. Almost got Michael Chabon to contribute, but other deadlines intervened. Still, Feiffer, DeHaven, Tye, Yang, Hajdu…not bad. And I remembered about Marv’s unpublished Siegel & Shuster era Superman story and he was willing to include it.

Best of all, though, was getting Laura Siegel Larson to pen a piece about her dad. It’s been a thrill/relief/pleasure to reconnect with Laura now that the long legal tangle between her family and DC is over. My long friendship with her parents was one of the nicest intersections of my fan spirit and professional life. Marred, of course, by the fact that it took so long to reach a resolution, but now rejoined and I can happily watch generations of Siegels benefit mightily from the magic that Jerry gave the world.

There are no letters pages any more, and precious little feedback on projects like the celebration, but if you enjoy it, shoot me a comment here or on Facebook or however. Hope you do…

  • Dear Mr. Levitz,
    I wish to thank you for your contribution to Action 1000! I loved the book as a whole, and am now acquainting myself with each of the parts. I wish each story could have been twice as long, or even 10 full length comics. As it is, I’ve gotten tastes of what has been, and what could have been. I am grateful for that. Superman is probably my favorite hero because of who he is. He is the guy who behaves as a hero should, whether the camera is on our off of him. He holds himself to a higher standard.

  • Mr. Levitz, let me second the above expression of thanks for ACTION COMICS: 80 YEARS OF SUPERMAN. I already owned most of the stories included, but am happy to have them collected in one place in such a handsome volume with all the extras. And of course, I was particularly glad for the stories that were new to me, especially Joe Kelly’s “A Hero’s Journey” from Action #800, which seemed the most celebratory part of the whole celebration.

    I can’t resist asking about some, as Spock might say, curious anomalies in the concluding biographies. It seems that all of the artists who worked on the book’s stories are listed, EXCEPT for Cam Smith (one of #800’s inkers) and Ben Oliver (artist on “The Boy Who Stole Superman’s Cape”). As for the people whose art appeared only on the covers–those shown as full pages and those in the gallery pages at the end–some are listed (Ross Andru, Nick Cardy, and six others), but most are not. The latter group includes such notables as Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Brett Breeding, and Murphy Anderson (!), so clearly they weren’t omitted for lack of significance to Superman’s history. And most curiously, biographies of Eduardo Barreto, Rick Buckner, Ernie Chan, and Tom Grummett ARE included, even though I don’t see their work anywhere in the book! Were there perhaps covers they worked on that were originally planned for the gallery that had to be left out at the last minute?

    I don’t want to end with my obsessive fanboy question, so let me repeat myself and say thank you for curating such a wonderful tribute to the first, and best, superhero and the comic book that gave him life.

    I believe the bios were prepared before the final covers were selected for the galleries. so that may explain much of it. The other errors you mention I’ll have to take responsibility for, though I did not write that section. My apologies to all concerned.