We should be seeing more tributes to Superman, like this one from the Ottawa Citizen’s Vito Pilieci, in the next month or so. After all, April marks the 70th anniversary of the character’s first appearance in Action Comics #1:
Shuster chose an image of Superman holding a car over his head, in order to create a sense of disbelief in the hopes it would draw people in to read more.
But the image of a strongman in blue tights concerned National publisher Harry Donenfeld.
Fearing the worst, he capped the comic’s print run at 200,000 issues. The comic sold out, distributors begged for more and Superman’s popularity took off instantly.
Shuster and Siegel became overnight celebrities.
Demand for Superman stories was so great, National decided to start a second comic in 1939, simply called Superman. But, Superman started to prove too big for comic books alone and officials at National began to think of new ways to promote the character.
Superman’s big break came on February 12, 1940, when millions of Americans gathered in front of their transistor radios and heard the words: “Boys and girls, your attention please. Presenting a new, exciting radio program featuring the thrilling adventures of an amazing and incredible personality. Faster than an airplane, more powerful than a locomotive, impervious to bullets . . . up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!”
The radio show was a smash hit, cementing the character’s place in pop-culture history.