Thursday, April 18, 2013

SO HE'S 75...

Well. He looks good. You'd never guess he was a senior citizen. Can you imagine him trying to talk some merchant into giving him a senior's discount somewhere? Not gonna happen.

You know, lately I've been struggling with my age. I'm only 48. I'm middle aged. I've never been in what you would call "shape". Not like Superman, anyway. But lately certain circumstance is my life have made me think that it's time to change that. Could I be more? I mean, maybe I can be better, but I could never be Superman... could I?

Mild Mannered Newspaper employee M.D. Jackson
Super Artist and unique individual M. D. Jackson
Who is Superman, anyway? Oh, sure, we all know the origin story of Kal-El, last son of doomed Krypton, but that's not what I mean. What I mean is... at his core... who is Superman?

I'm not saying anything new by pointing out that Superman represents nothing more than the immigrant experience in America. Whether you're fleeing the destruction of Krypton or the Pogroms in Europe, or the Khmer Rouge or just a crappy economic situation... just like Superman you've come to this new land. You've got to blend in. Youi've got to look the part.

Superman donned glasses and became mild mannered reporter Clark Kent. Well how many of us are Clark Kent? Mild mannered... keep your head down... don't make waves... don't cause trouble. You don't want to be labelled a terrorist, right?

But how many of us know that deep inside us is an extraordinary person? Someone who is more than just this mild mannered immigrant trying to blend in by wearing jeans, tee shirt and Nikes? Someone who is, if you could only see, super?

The answer, of course, is all of us. We're all Superman. That's why he's so iconic. That's why everybody knows who Superman is. He represented the secret longings of two high school chums, Jerry Siegel, a young child of Jewish immigrants, and Joe Shuster, a Jewish kid from Canada, trying to make their mark in Cleveland, Ohio in 1933.

So how is Superman faring after 75 years? Does he still represent the everyman who has a secret uniqueness? The comics have tried to reinvent him away from that archetype several times, but he always seems to come back to that, doesn't he? At the end of the day, Superman toils away as Clarke Kent, his manner mild, his head down, his nose to the grindstone -- solid, unremarkable Clarke.

But underneath that grey suit and those blocky glasses there is a unique being -- a man who, if only given the chance, could show the world how damned Super he really is!

Superman is you. Superman is me. Superman is everybody who feels like they go through life with their best qualities unrecognized. We wait for the opportunity -- that special set of circumstance that looks like a job for -- who? Who we are deep down... our unique combination of skills and only that unique combination of skills and abilities -- the chance to shine. Maybe we can't fly. Maybe we don't have a blue suit with a red "S" on the front -- but maybe we don't need that.

Maybe there is somewhere... some time... where we... where you... and only you... can save the day.

Up... up... and away!

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?


Artman2112 said...

you (meaning you, me and everyone else in the world) can always be better than we are now! go for it! nice post! god knows that guy has been a part of my life ALL my life :D

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Thoughtful insights! I like the illustration of "greying" Superman. And your photos with and without glasses -- my gawd, it was hard to recognize you once your disguise was gone!

cerebus660 said...

Mike, that's a wonderful analysis of the true appeal of Superman! He is an ideal, something to aspire to, and - crucially - he always does the right thing.

I'm hoping the people behind the upcoming Man Of Steel movie have at least half the grasp of the character that you have... then it might be OK :-)

Kal said...

That was one of the coolest articles about Superman I have ever read. Well written. I like the idea of becoming the best Superman we can all be. I may have to repost that.

Kal said...

Those cartoons are also terrific. I can watch them over and over again. Despite how old they are, nothing has ever reached that level of sophistication rarely since then.

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