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How did the two of you meet?

Jerry Siegel (left) and Joe Shuster (right)

Joe Shuster:  I came from Canada when I was about 10 years old, and our family settled in Cleveland, Ohio.  It was in Glenville High School that I met Jerry Siegel; we were both on the staff of the Glenville High paper, The Glenville Torch.

Jerry Siegel:  Before that you went to a junior high school...

Joe Shuster:  Yes, it was Alexander Hamilton Junior High School, where I was staff artist on their school paper, The Federalist.  And I did a comic strip called, of all things, Jerry, the Journalist.  It wasn't influenced by anything in particular; the script was given to me.

Jerry Siegel:  Strangely enough, it was written by a cousin of mine— he was the editor of the paper.  I don't know the details, but when Joe moved from that neighborhood down into the neighborhood where I was living, it was shortly before that I was talking to my cousin—I told him I was interested in comics, and I was starting to collaborate through the mail with some cartoonist—and he told me about Joe.  He said that Joe was very good and was moving into my neighborhood and the two of us ought to get together.  That's what led to the two of us meeting.

Joe Shuster:  We were just a few blocks away from each other, matter of fact.  We were about 16 at the time.

Jerry Siegel:  Something like that.  We were high school kids.

Was the material in your high school paper your first published artwork?

Joe Shuster:  Yes, the first that had ever been published.  It was a humorous strip, a cartoon.

Jerry Siegel:  It was a gag, complete in itself, each separate one.

What was the high school like?

Jerry Siegel:  It was Glenville High School, and while we were students there, there were also some students who in later years achieved considerable celebrity—among them Jerome Lawrence, who later was co-writer of Inherit the Wind and Auntie Mame.  And then Seymour Heller, who was also a student there, later became the manager of Liberace.  There were some other fellers who did quite well in later years.  Some of them worked on the newspaper.

What were your interests at that time besides the high school paper?

Joe Shuster:  I tried to build up my body.  I was so skinny, I went in for weight-lifting and athletics.  I used to get all the body-building magazlnes— from the second-hand stores—and read them...

Jerry Siegel:  I used to go to the school gym and see Joe in action:  he was pretty good.

Joe Shuster:  ... I put a lot of effort into it for about four or five years.

Jerry Siegel:  Joe, do you mind if I tell a little funny story at your expense?

Joe Shuster:  Not about the time in Miami!

Jerry Siegel:  No, I'm talking about the barbells.  Joe was interviewed years ago, and he was really good with the barbells.  But newsmen being the way they are, they waited until after Joe had raised and lowered the thing many times.  When he put it down and collapsed, that's the picture they wanted:  a funny shot instead of all the terrific lifting he had done.

Joe Shuster:  Incidentally, Jerry and I did the first science-fiction fanzine, called Science Fiction

Jerry Siegel:  And here's something of interest which the fan field doesn't know, because the information didn't come fully back to me until just a short time ago.  Recently I bought a copy of The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction—the title was something like that; it's published in England.  At the front of the book they list certain "firsts"; and they had me down as the publisher of a science-fiction fanzine which I put out several years before I even met Joe.  It was called Cosmic Stories.  It was strictly a typewritten and hectographed publication, I believe; I believe that I wrote most of it or at least a great deal of it.  It was sold through the mails, and the article says that not even one copy is known to exist today.  This was the first science-fiction fanzine in the U.S., and for all I know, in the whole world.  This was when I was about 14 years old, back in 1929, about a year or so before I met Joe.  It must be quite a collector's item if any copies exist.  It's not impossible that a copy might exist somewhere, but the chances of any other copies having survived is rather remote.

Do you recall any of the stories you wrote for that?

Jerry Siegel:  Yes.  As a matter of fact, I even recall that I called the thing The Fantastic Fiction Publishing Company or something like that; and I actually Mimeographed and sold through the mails pamphlets that I wrote under the pseudonym Hugh Langley—or whatever.  I don't have copies of those, but I do remember that when I showed the material to my English teacher, she gave me a little lecture that it was a pity I was wasting my time writing such trash when there were so many wonderful types of literature I could be writing instead.  And I said, "Well, I like this kind of stuff, and that's why I write it."

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Originally from NEMO: The Classic Comics Library, issue #2, August 1983, pages 6-19

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