You’d think a guy like Superman would be worth a lot of money, especially considering the billion-dollar comics industry that was initially made popular by America’s favorite Good Guy. As it turns out, ol’ Supe was worth $130. That’s how much DC Comics gave Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster — along with $210 for the June 1938 issue of Detective Comics and $36 each for Adventure Comics and More Fun.
In 1938, a hundred bucks was nothing to sneeze at. But, at least according to this calculator, it wasn’t a massive fortune, either. Today’s going rate for the original rights to Superman? $2,091.88. In total, Siegel and Shuster earned about $6,629.66 for their work in today’s dollars.
The check, which has been missing and thought lost for decades, turned up last week after an image shared on Twitter by @GerryDuggan caught the attention of a fewfolks in the know. “Have you ever made a business decision that haunted you? This piece of true comics history will make you feel better,” it said. We’re not so sure about that.
The check was used as evidence in DC’s lawsuit against Victor Fox way back in 1939; Fox hired a strapping lad by the name of Will Eisner to create a comics character, who shared some remarkable similarities with Superman–basically, all of his powers and 50% of his name. Eisner’s Wonder Man appeared in Wonder Man #1 and never again. DC sued Fox, establishing modern character copyright laws for comics.
It’s an interesting story with some far-reaching historical merit. If not for Jack Liebowitz’s signature and an on-check itemization of Siegel and Shuster’s payment, Wonder Man could have been the country’s most famous superhero.