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Joe Shuster

Joe Shuster, (1914-1992), Canadian born artist

Joseph Shuster was born on July 10, 1914 in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Jewish immigrants from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He was a cousin of one of Canada's most popular comedians, Frank Shuster[?]. As a youngster, Joe Shuster worked as a newspaper boy for the Toronto Star and as a hobby, he liked to sketch. The sights and sounds of a big city newspaper, the hustle bustle of its offices, and the fantasy world of the newspaper's color comics, all had a powerful impact on him.

At the age of ten, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where, at the age of 18 he and his friend Jerome Siegel[?] published a short-lived "Science Fiction" magazine. Shuster made the drawings and Siegel did the writing creating a super character that a few years later evolved into a comic strip. Employed by DC-National the pair produced a variety of comic stories including the lead feature in the company's issue of the first "Action Comics". Their 1938 character, "Superman," was an enormous success that led to what is referred to as the "Golden Age of Comic Books."

When Superman first appeared, its hero, Clark Kent, worked for the Daily Star newspaper, named by Shuster after his old employer in Toronto. When the comic strip received international distribution, the company permanently changed the name to the Daily Planet.

Joe Shuster very quickly became famous as the co-creator one of the most well-known and commercially successful fictional characters of the 20th century. At the time, in the midst of the Great Depression, he made a very good living from producing Superman stories. However, the copyright to his and Siegal's work belonged to their employer and when the company refused to compensate them to the degree they believed appropriate, the pair sued. In 1948, the New York State Supreme Court limited their settlement to $60,000 each, at the time a large amount for someone, but very small compared to the multi-millions in profits their employer was generating annually. After the bitter legal wrangling, Joe Shuster left the comics business and his and Siegal's byline was dropped by DC comics.

In 1978, Siegel & Shuster again filed a legal action against DC Comics for royalties from the Superman character. In the face of a great deal of negative publicity over their handling of the affair, DC reinstated the byline dropped more than 30 years earlier, and granted the pair a lifetime pension of $35,000 a year.

Joe Shuster died in Los Angeles, California on July 30, 1992.



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