Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-creator, Joe Shuster

By on July 23, 2009

Devoted comic book fan Craig Yoe finds a long ago out-of-print smut magazine in a cardboard box in a used bookseller’s stall. It’s called Nights of Horror and the illustrations of Lois Lane look-alikes in disturbing scenarios looks oddly familiar to him. ‘These words leaped in a single bound to my mind: “Oh, my God, Joe Shuster!”. This is a book about a fan who saves the day…

vintage erotic comics joe shuster

Who would’ve guessed it? Co-creator of one of today’s most celebrated superheroes also dabbled in erotic horror, providing us with this intriguing picture book. With an introduction by Stan Lee, and a meticulously researched account of Joe Shuster’s comic art career by Craig Yoe, Secret Identity is a tribute to the man who first penned Superman, despite him having ended up on the complete opposite end of the career in illustration he imagined and pursued painstakingly.

00031As the co-creator of Superman (along with his lifetime friend Jerry Siegel), you might be asking yourself how he ended up here. As young men fresh into the business with a groundbreaking idea for a comic, they leapt at the first opportunity for publication and sold all the Superman rights at a tiny sum of $130 to DC Comics, and therefore received very little financial reward from their otherwise money-making man in tights.

Shuster then took his skills to any door that would open. And the door that did, led him to Erotic Horror Books; think broad-chested, slick-haired men bursting out of their shirts, and desk-job seeking damsels in distress (and all manner of undress) embedded in a world of BDSM; hedonistic characters indulging in whippings, canings, floggings, bondage and rape. This is Nights of Horror, a poorly made erotic horror booklet that sold less than 20 issues, and was a supposed catalyst for terrifying youth crimes in New York at the time.

Although the illustrations are very well drawn, you can’t help but see a troubling reflection of Superman gone awry, as the characters harbour stark resemblance to Lois Lane, Clark Kent, and the rest of the gang. Was it really all Shuster could make of his career or was it an act of vengeance on DC? Regardless of content, Shuster is a superhero in his own right, fighting the good fight against the bad guys of the comic art world. His ‘pervy’ comic masterpieces will live on through these pages, finally giving him the acclaim he always deserved.

This is an essential book for the comic book aficionado or erotic art loving adult’s collection. Buy Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of “Superman’s” Co-creator Joe Shuster online now

Review by Kara Martin

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