|Scott Johnson remembers his collaboration with Jerry Siegel
My experience with Jerry Siegel was short but sweet. He was seeking an
outlet for story ideas back in the '80's, but no one would touch him. Not
even DC, the giant publisher whose product line he virtually created nearly
half a century before. He had shopped a half-dozen scripts to every
publisher on the continent, until they finally arrived at the mailbox of
Acme Comics, our independent group barely a notch above the fanzines.
I literally leapt at the chance to work with the one and only, and the best
of the lot of stories he submitted was "Sgt. SpaceCop", starring an exiled
cop from another planet who now works for the NYPD. We were never sure
whether he was serious about this story which featured, amongst others, the
vampire ghost of Adolph Hitler. But we saw a fun, campy story, and wrote
back to Jerry with a few suggestions for the story. Within three days, he
shot back a revised script, incorporating every one of our suggestions and
embracing our tongue-in-cheek reading of his story. What a professional!
So we did two stories with him, paying him a meager $125 (he was the only
person who made money on the project!). Still, he got what he wanted,
which was character designs and what amounted to a crude storyboard which
he could submit to producers of Saturday morning cartoons. We kept up a
modest correspondence for a few years, which kind of tailed off as he
advanced in years.
So there it is, five times longer than necessary! Siegel was a very nice
man, a consummate professional, who was totally abandoned by his industry
in his final years. DC revamped Action Comics about that time to a format
of seven or eight continuing stories every issue; you'd think they could
have opened up even a little room for Jerry Siegel. Some people paint
Siegel as an embittered man; if that was the case, it seems justified. At
any rate, he was never anything but warm and thoughtful to us, a bunch of
rank amateurs trying to figure out just what in the world we were doing.