In the early years, the Superman comic strip was helmed by creators Siegel and Shuster, and though Shuster was ghosted by several other artists due to his failing eyesight, he still insisted on doing the inking himself.

The dailies lasted from 1939 to 1966 when interest in superhero comic strips began to wane. The comics had a brief revival in from 1977 to 1983 coinciding with the first three Superman movies.

 


 

Superman's Origins

 


The daily comic strips introduced the back story of Superman's birth and flight from Krypton to Earth. Prior to that, the planet had no name, nor did his parents Jor-L and Lora (the spelling in the comic strip) Superman, likewise, was given a Kryptonian name -- "Kal-L". With very few changes, this has remained the origin story of Superman.

 


 

"Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?"

 


There was a kind of vindictiveness to Clark/Superman in the early comic strips. In the strip above, he makes no attempt to save the doomed man and believes he deserved to die. In the strip below, he literally kills a carload of men without remorse. This uncharacteristic bloodlust from Clark existed in the dailies, but was banned from the comic books due to Whitney Ellsworth creating a code of conduct that prevented Superman from killing.

 


 

 

The dailies also provided this oddity. Superman, who often rescued women from wife beaters, saw nothing wrong or contradictory in administering a spanking to a grown woman he believed had behaved badly. He then left with a parting statement more suited to a 12 year old seeking the solace of a "no girls allowed" tree house. Worse, of course, was the woman stating she loved him. Perhaps spanking for pleasure goes back further than suspected.

 

Seriously, while this behavior would be seen as very sexist today, younger fans should be made aware that this was simply the temper of the times.  Since it was as inappropriate then as it is today for a man to punch a woman, spanking was seen as an acceptable alternative years ago. Also, these dailies came from an era when the biggest audience was composed of children. That being the case, spanking was the type of punishment children could identify with and Superman's exit remarks probably echoed the feelings of his young male readers.


 

However, it was also popular in movies and television for decades. The comics simply reflected the popular culture around them. Keep in mind, too, that these spankings were never of a cruel nature and were almost always delivered for humor's sake. 

 


 

There was also a female counterpart to spanking humor that was a tad more violent. It was called 'rolling pin humor,' and as the name implies, it involved the woman (almost always the wife) clobbering her husband with all manner of kitchen implements. 

Again, this was done with a burlesque kind of slapstick humor and often the man remained unscathed, or had a classic comedic black eye.


This addendum isn't to condone any type of domestic violence, but rather to reflect back on an era where slapstick and screwball comedies relied heavily on physical humor to reach their very visual punchlines. 

 

Postscript

According to E. Nelson Bridwell in his introduction to Superman From the 30s to the 70s, the daily strip had Lois and Superman married for a while in the 1950s. However, the writers not being terribly imaginative not only ran out of ideas, they reset the whole marriage in "Dallas" fashion relegating the whole thing to dream status.

 


 

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