WonderCon 2018: DC Celebrates 80 Years of Superman

With the landmark 1000th issue of Action Comics sitting just over the horizon, DC has brought together some of their top-tier talent to help celebrate 80 years of Superman at WonderCon in Anaheim. We’re expecting to see some news about the issue itself, as well as some discussion about the Man of Steel’s future under the leadership and direction of creator Brian Michael Bendis so keep hitting that refresh button for the very latest from the con.

Taking the stage to represent Superman, moderator Paul Malmont, alongside Jason Fabok, Jim Lee, Dan Jurgens, Alex Sinclair, Norm Rapmund and Marv Wolfman.

The panel kicked off with a celebratory video showcasing some highlights from Superman’s 80 year history — “All 1000 issues were in that video,” Malmont joked, “Kudos to our librarian.”

Things kicked off with Jason Fabok, a question about his work with Geoff Johns. “What’s been this experience been like working with Bendis now?”

“The tough part is that Man of Steel is a six issue series and each issue is drawn by someone else. We’re all trying to make sure we’re on the same page…My role is kind of unique. I’m telling a story that’s weaving through all six issues and then you’ll get to see it all kind of culminate into one big finish in the final issue,” Fabok answered.

Fabok went on to explain that he approaches art in ensemble books and solo books the same, and that it’s all still fresh for him. “My first DC work was an issue of Batman/Superman so now I’m finally getting to draw Superman alone.”

Lee was then pressed on the return of the iconic red trunks. “I knew when I took them off in the New 52 that they were going to come back,” Lee laughed, “It was just a matter of time. We figured the 1000th issue was as good a time as any. The danger with creating new costumes is that someone always loves it, so I’m sure the trunks will leave again at some point. At the end of the day, I have no horse in the race. I have fun drawing both.”

Marv Wolfman stepped into the spotlight next, as Malmont highlighted that Wolfman’s 50th anniversary with DC is coming up. “Ah yes, it was an issue of Blackhawks,” Wolfman confirmed. “I had no idea what I was doing, I disagreed with how they were handling the character so I sent in a script and it sat in a desk for a year, but when Dick Giordano took over that office he found it and bought it so…thank you to him, and you all of you for keeping me in this business for so long!”

Wolfman then went on to tell a story: “So, back in the 60s, DC gave tours every Thursday if you were there. I went to school about four blocks away so I went on the tours,” and at one point he stumbled upon a batch of pages from the 1940s that had been marked for incineration, “Before you get mad, it was a different time! Nobody collected this stuff! So we dove into this bin like Uncle Scrooge and grabbed everything we could. And as far as I know, I got the only unpublished Jerry and Joe that exists. I preserved it in the same condition I had when I got it.”

Wolfman then loaned the pages to DC for Action Comics 1000, which will be the first time the story has ever seen publication.

Norm Rapmund and Dan Jurgens then spoke about their story in the 1000th issue. “It’s an honor to be a part of all that,” Jurgens said, “I wanted to do a story that says “thank you,” but how do you say thank you to Superman?”

Jurgens explained that that is actually the basis or the story, “How does Metropolis thank Superman?”

Rampund went on to explain how excited he was to be part of #1000, “I approached this so much differently than a normal issue. I got the pages. I called my parents. I was so excited. I went back and looked at Timemasters Superman which I thought was the best Superman that Dan and I did together and just — I was really happy with how it turned out.”

Jurgens then confirmed that his final Action Comics story for now will be “The Last Will and Testament of Lex Luthor,” a standalone story that will be published in the Action Comics Special #1.

The panel then unanimously confirmed that Curt Swan was their first Superman artists, save for Jason Fabok. Fabok chimed in, “The guy just knew how to draw Superman. He knew how to capture the version of the character. I’ve really looked back at a lot of artists that I didn’t grow up reading — I grew up reading Jim Lee,” he laughed, ” But my appreciation of Neal Adams and Curt Swan and Jack Kirby — I love all that story. I try to bring some of that into my art now.”

Lee added, “Swan had Superman down the way Charles Schultz had Snoopy or Charlie Brown. He just had it perfect, every time.” He went on, “But Neal Adams was probably the artist I’ve been most influenced by. That photorealism, the way everything is over the top.”

“For me, it was John Byrne,” Rampund added, “Once I was at the dentist office and I saw Superman on the cover of Time Magazine and I just couldn’t believe it. He was my Superman artist growing up and I think he still is.”

Jurgens picked up about what makes a great Superman story after 80 years, “The most important part is getting in touch with the human part. The character part, the human part, has to be the theme. He’s an intrinsically different character than someone like Batman — the conditions, the adversary, the location might change, but Superman can always be new.”

Jurgens highlighted Jerry and Joe’s focus on “quintessential Americana” as a reason for Clark Kent’s longevity.

The panel then shared their favorite Superman stories. Lee pointed out The Death of Superman. Jason Fabok cited the old Fleisher studios cartoon, “It’s my favorite version of Superman.”

As the panel wrapped up, they turned their attention to Lois Lane. “I always thought Lois was awful,” Wolfman joked, “But fortunately in the 80s that started to change. They made her a character who you could absolutely care about — she, Jimmy, Perry, they all bring Superman back to Earth. This is a guy who can fly but he’s strongest when he’s walking with people.”

In closing, Lee said that his vision in 80 years for Superman will still find him close to Lois. “She’s the bravest person in the DCU.”

Keep reading CBR all weekend for more from WonderCon 2018!

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