“Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird…it’s a plane…No, it’s Superman!”
How many times did I hear those words as a kid? I was glued to a black and white television watching the program that starred a somewhat middle aged-looking George Reeves as the fictional hero from the planet Krypton as often as I could find the show. Watching that show was one of the few topics on which my three brothers and I agreed. I wasn’t sure about the tights he wore, but I loved that cape. And he could fly! I wasn’t so interested in the Lois Lane aspect until later, but the fact that he could bend steel and that bullets bounced off him, and that he looked upon attempts to shoot him with complete disdain, well. I wanted to be Superman.
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman in 1933. The Man of Steel first appeared in Action Comics #1, dated June 1938. And the question as to whether you would like to own one of those comic books is a resounding “Yes!” The character of Superman continued in comic books, but he also became a character on radio and in films, in addition to the TV show. He also found himself in book form. Random House published a novel based on the Siegel and Shuster character (but written by George Lowther) in 1942 as a hardcover with a dust jacket. The front dust jacket panel has a cool color illustration of Superman flying.
But I prefer the same book when issued by the Council on Books in Wartime in 1945. The Armed Services Editions book, No. 656 in this important series, was designed to fit into the pocket of a World War II American GI. This entire series was the biggest book give-away in the history of the World. It is perhaps the most desirable book in the series. Although any ASE approaching fine as to condition would be extraordinarily rare, I once had such a copy of Superman. It brought nearly $1,000, and it was an easy sell. Like most ASEs, the wartime Superman carries art from the front cover of the hardcover that it reprints on its own front cover. They were extremely popular with GIs.