HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUPERMAN!

Today is February 29th.  Leap Day.  For those that have always wondered why there are leap years and leap days here’s the reason; despite what you might think the Earth does not take 365 days to travel around the sun.  It actually takes 365 and 1/4 days, so every four years they add a day to the end of February to balance everything out.  The reason it is called “leap day” is that in a normal sequence of years June 3rd (for example) will fall on a Monday one year and then fall on a Tuesday the next.  Every four years June 3rd will “leap over” the expected day it was supposed to fall on and end up on Thursday instead of Wednesday and thus a fun bit of calendar weirdness is born.

I have a vested interest in Leap Days because I was born on one.  I made my first appearance (to use a Who’s Who term) on February 29th, 1976.  So depending on how you want to look at it I am either turning thirty-six or nine this year.  For most of my life I have thought of myself as a leap baby though I have recently found out that I could also call myself a leapling, which makes me sound like a young Jedi born on February 29th, or a leaper, which makes me sound like a fan of Quantum Leap.  Actually I am a fan of Quantum Leap, so that term works out just fine for me.

There have been a number of famous people born on February 29th.  Actor Dennis Farina, the voice of Wildcat on Justice League Unlimited is one.  Actor Antonio Sabato, Jr., who played Deathstoke on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman is another.  There is also AIDS activist Pedro Zamora (best known for being on the Real World and the inspiration for Judd Winick’s graphic novel Pedro and Me) and rapper/actor Ja Rule.

Oh, and Superman.

I was in the fifth grade when I found out that Superman’s supposed birthday was February 29th.  It was right around the time I started buying the comics on a regular basis and I thought and still think it is awesome.  A little less than a year later in 1988 DC celebrated Superman’s 50th Anniversary and not only was there a cover story in Time Magazine (which is where the picture you see above this paragraph came from, though I had to yank this from Google Images because I couldn’t scan it myself) but also a prime time special produced by Lorne Michaels that NBC aired on February 29th of that year.

Between that and my sister Mary buying me a copy of Action Comics #600 and a VHS tape that contained 3 episodes of the Fleisher Superman shorts it was a great 12th/3rd birthday.

(The special is a bit silly.  Actually it is very silly but I liked it at the time and was happy to see that Warner Brothers included it in the fourteen disc box set of the Superman films that was released in 2006.)

Superman’s 50th anniversary also made the national news.  YouTube helped me find this Headline News piece…

…as well as this newscast from Sacramento, California.

That second video rode annoyed me a bit.  It was nice of that station to do a piece on Superman’s birthday, but did they really have to make the fact that Superman wasn’t selling as well as he used to the hook of the story?  Also I thought it was funny that they used a piece of art from Action Comics #600 featuring Lois Lane in disguise as an example of what the character looked like at the time compared to how she looked in 1938.

Oh well.  News items about comic books usually have these problems.  The video was neat to find nonetheless.

Apparently WWOR (Channel 9 out of New York City) got in on the anniversary fun by running a marathon of the George Reeves Adventures of Superman television series.  It was hosted by Jack Larson, the Jimmy Olsen from that show and in searching for the videos I posted above I also found the introduction of that marathon on YouTube

In addition to the magazine coverage and the news reports and the television specials the Smithsonian National Museum of American History had a year long Superman exhibit starting in 1987.  I was lucky enough to get to see the exhibit thanks in large part to the fact that I had two aunts that lived near Washington, D.C. and my family would make frequent trips to the Smithsonian.  I never got a chance to take pictures of the various displays but my good friend Alan Leach, Jr. did and a few years ago he sent them to me.  Today seemed like a good day to share them.

I’d like to thank Alan for sending me those photos.  Just like finding out that Superman and I had the same birthday the timing of me getting into the comics and this exhibit being shown to the public was just perfect.  It was also the first time that something in a museum spoke to me on a personal level.  One of the pictures above shows the tear-away shirt the Christopher Reeve wore in one of the Superman films and that was the first time I realized that the shirt he ripped open to reveal the S underneath was actually designed to be ripped open.  This exhibit was also when I learned that George Reeves wore two different colored costumes on the Adventures of Superman television series.

On another personal note I am glad that Alan got a picture of the “how a comic is made” display.  The artwork is from Superman (vol. 2) #8, which was one of the two Superman books that got me to start buying the titles full time.  I like when things line up like that.

I will admit to being curious as to why there is an issue of Captain America in one of the pictures.  That’s…strange.

One last image before I sign off for the day.  This is another picture I found through Google Images and thought it was too cool to pass up.

That is it for today, folks.  I hope you liked the images and the videos as much as I did.  This post has nothing to do with the Death and Return of Superman but I couldn’t pass up the chance to wish the Man of Steel a very happy birthday.  I know it isn’t his real birthday but if it was good enough for DC Comics and Alan Moore then it is good enough for me.

More to follow…

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7 Responses to HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUPERMAN!

  1. Durabill says:

    Happy Birthday Mike

    All the best

  2. Travis Fowler says:

    Michael

    I wanted to stop by the Fortress before I went to work to wish you a Happy Birthday! Not only is it your and Superman’s birthday, it’s new comic day! Make it a good one sir and thank you for all you’ve done for comics and pod casting.

  3. Dan North says:

    Happy birthday Supermen(!).

    I share my birthday with Bradley Cooper and I missed Sherlock Holmes’s birthday by 10 hours! 10 hours! Come on mom!

  4. Brad says:

    Happy Birthday to Superman and to you Michael! All the best!

    BTW, I share(d) my B-Day with President Abraham Lincoln.

  5. Alan Leach Jr. says:

    Mike, once again Happy Birthday. I have to tell you even though I started reading Superman with Man of Steel number one I really did not have a sense of all the history of the character. For me Superman started with the Chris Reeve films. I can remeber I had a copy of the famous first edition of Superman 1 but I had no real sense of how long ago 1938 was. The six year old me thought it was supposed to be an adapatation of the movie. I did not truely realize the history of the character until I went to see the exhibit at the Smithsonian. The books, the toys, the kryptonian ray gun were all new things to me and I finally get a true sense of the history of the character. Up until that point I had only heard of the Reeves show I had never seen it, the notion that there was a Superman before Chris Reeve was new to me. After we looked at the whole exhibit, I could have spent hours there but didn’t, we went to the gift shop. They had several postcards of Superman with Garcia Lopez art that I bought, but the amazing thing they had was the hardcover Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told with the John Bryne cover. My parents were nice enough to get it for me and I can remember reading that book whenever we were in the car during that trip and on the ride home back to Rhode Island. The Wayne Boring origin, the first Death of Superman story, the cheesy but fun tale of Superman Red and Superman Blue and of course For the Man Who Has Everything among many other equally great stories. Man of Steel made me a fan of Superman comics but that hardcover made me appreciate what came before and sent me down the road to being a lifelong fan not unlike your experiance with the thirties to the seventies hardcover. Around that same time Niclodian ran an Adventures of Superman marathon and begin showing episodes of the show dailly, I also found a video of a few of the Fleischer caroons and Stamp Day for Superman, a Reeves government stamp short. Its funny we went on the trip because it was school vaction week and my sister had gone to Paris France with the French Club, my parents asked what I wanted to do and I said I’d like to go to washington and see the Superman 50th birthday exhibit and the model of the USS Enterprise. I never thought they would take me but they wanted to encourage my love of reading and history. I also got to see the original model of the USS Enterprise on that trip and that was cool as well. Thanks for sending me down memory lane just as you do everyweek on FCTC, again happy birthday, oh and by the way I share my birthday with Harrison Ford and Patrick Stewart, if I can’t share it with Superman Han Solo and Captain Picard appeal to two other aspects of my geekdom.

  6. Douglas Meacham says:

    Happy Super-Birthday again Mike. Hope you had room somewhere in your fortress for my gift. I’ve been thinking about how you said you like it when things line up. It is really an amazing coincidence for you to grow up to be this huge Superman fan and then find out you two share a birthday. It’s enough for one to believe in fate. I hope to meet you next year at the 75 anniversary celebration in Metropolis. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying the show!

  7. Davis Z says:

    Happy birthday,Mike!

    I recently saw something on Tumblr that said that Feb 29th was Captain Marvel’s birthday too.
    http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m05tauBAed1qb5hhzo1_400.jpg
    That’s weird.

    PS:Batman looks really uncomfortable in that first image.

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