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Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of…

Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-creator Joe Shuster (2009)

by Craig Yoe, Joe Shuster (Illustrator)

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Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-creator Joe Shuster showcases rare and recently discovered erotic artwork by the most seminal artist in comics, Joe Shuster. Created in the early 1950s when Shuster was down on his luck after suing his publisher, DC Comics, over the copyright for Superman, he illustrated these images for an obscure series of magazines called "Nights of Horror," published under the counter until they were banned by the U.S. Senate. Juvenile deliquency, Dr. Fredric Wertham, and the Brooklyn Thrill Killers gang all figure into this sensational story.The discovery of this artwork reveals the "secret identity" of this revered comics creator, and is sure to generate controversy and change the perception of the way we look at Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and Jimmy Olsen forever. The book includes reproductions of these images, and an essay that provides a detailed account of the scandal and the murder trial that resulted from the publication of this racy material."Jeepers, Mr. Kent!"--USA Today "Eye-opening...a compelling feat of literary sleuthing."--Publishers Weekly"A shocking expose"--National Enquirer "Startling. . . this fascinating collection adds a new dimension to a hidden history."--Miami Herald Secret Identity is an incredible find of historic significance to comics art....--Library Journal… (more)



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Those familiar with the history of comics -- and even many who are not -- will know the story of Joe and Jerry, two Jewish teenagers from Cleveland who created Superman and sold all rights to the future earnings of the Man of Steel in 1938 for the not so super sum of $130.

But no one knew until recent research by author Craig Yoe that Superman artist Joe Shuster drew the illustrations for an obscure series of sadomasochistic comics in the 1950s. Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman Co-Creator Joe Shuster brings those drawings to light for the first time. These pornographic images are disturbing, showing characters that bear a striking resemblance to Superman, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and Jimmy Olsen whipping, torturing, and brutalizing each other. Sometimes the art is strong and sometimes slapdash, but even today when we are used to violent and overtly sexual images, they are still creepy.

Why did Joe do it? Yoe writes: “Other comic book artists were struggling, but finding work in advertising, education, and industry. Was creating pornography an act of financial desperation? Or was drawing characters who looked like their famous counterparts, only in compromising situations, an act of retribution? Or is it possible that there was something in Joe that enjoyed this type of fantasy material?” There are no answers to these questions. Readers must come to their own conclusions.

In Secret Identity Yoe also gives an account of the linking of comics to juvenile delinquency and the crusade against them lead by Fredric Wertham and others. That censorship battle is well covered in other books (Ten Cent Plague among them), but it takes on a new aspect combined with the illustrations of Shuster’s Nights of Horror.

This book is not for everyone. Some won’t want to see the drawings in any context, even an historical one. It’s your call whether you want to explore this dark side of Superman’s creator. ( )
  ElizabethChapman | Dec 11, 2010 |
Juvenile deliquency, Dr. Fredric Wertham, and the Brooklyn Thrill Killers gang all figure into this sensational story.

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Craig Yoeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Shuster, JoeIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Although I'm a guy who's lived with heroes, most of them were fictitious. 
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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