U.S. Markets closed

How the creators of 'Superman' were screwed out of millions of dollars

Robert Kirkman's Secret History of Comics: The Trials of Superman revealed the shocking truth behind the world's first superhero. Not many people know that when Superman was created in 1933 by two high school students, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the Man of Steel was actually rejected, by everyone.

It wasn't until 1937, when DC Comics' Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz were desperate for business, that Superfan finally got a chance. A dream that Siegel and Shuster shared since they were kids, they excitedly signed the contract. Unfortunately, it became the biggest mistake of their lives as it meant that they were also giving up all rights to Superman, a character that would soon become a worldwide phenomenon.

Within three months, Superman sold a million copies. Siegel and Shuster were paid well, but not nearly as much as Donenfeld and Liebowitz, who were making millions of dollars. Ultimately, this didn't sit well with the creators, whose workload were increasing dramatically with the Last Son of Krypton's success.

In 1947, Siegel and Shuster sued DC Comics for the rights to Superman. Sadly, they lost the case and their jobs at DC. The two were absolutely devastated. Not only was everything they had worked so hard on stripped away from them, but they were also barred from the character they created.

Siegel convinced Shuster to sue DC again in 1967. However, they found that, due to the settlement they had received from the court judgment in 1948, the door had been completely closed on any future litigation. This second loss left the creators with almost nothing, and barely enough money to survive.

It wasn't until the release of the very first Superman movie, starring Marlon Brando, that things began to finally turn around for the creators. After exposing their story to the public, Warner Communications decided to pay the creators, despite the previous court ruling.

In the end, after nearly 30 years of anguish, Siegel and Shuster got Superman back and the justice they deserved.