Jerome “Jerry” Siegel (October 17, 1914 – January 28, 1996), who also used pseudonyms including Joe Carter, Jerry Ess, and Herbert S. Fine, was the American co-creator of Superman, along with Joe Shuster, the first of the great comic book superheroes and one of the most recognizable of the 20th century.
He was inducted (with Shuster posthumously) into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993.
Siegel and Shuster created a bald telepathic villain referred to as “the Superman”, bent on dominating the entire world. He appeared in the short story “The Reign of the Superman” from Science Fiction No. 3, a science fiction fanzine that Siegel published in 1933. Tossing and turning in bed one night in 1934, he thought of the more familiar character by that name. Siegel and Shuster then began a four-year quest to find a publisher. Titling it The Superman, Siegel and Shuster offered it to Consolidated Book Publishing, who had published a 48-page black-and-white comic book entitled Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48. Although the duo received an encouraging letter, Consolidated never again published comic books. Shuster took this to heart and burned all pages of the story, the cover surviving only because Siegel rescued it from the fire. Siegel and Shuster each compared this character to Slam Bradley, an adventurer the pair had created for Detective Comics No. 1 (March 1937). In 1938, after that proposal had languished among others at More Fun Comics — published by National Allied Publications, the primary precursor of DC Comics — editor Vin Sullivan chose it as the cover feature for National’s Action Comics No. 1 (June 1938). The following year, Siegel & Shuster initiated the syndicated Superman comic strip. Siegel also created the ghostly avenger The Spectre during this same period.
As part of the deal which saw Superman published in Action Comics, Siegel and Shuster sold the rights to the company in return for $130 and a contract to supply the publisher with material.
Siegel and Shuster’s status as children of Jewish immigrants is also thought to have influenced their work. Timothy Aaron Pevey has argued that they crafted “an immigrant figure whose desire was to fit into American culture as an American”, something which Pevey feels taps into an important aspect of American identity.