Joe Shuster, the artist creator of Superman and the whole flippin’ comic-book industry, did sadomasochistic art for a series of books titled Nights of Horror. It still blows my little mind that I found this unknown chapter in the seminal comic-book artist’s life. It was a fascinating experience putting together the book Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster. Geez, all the crazy background I unearthed about Shuster’s pornography involvement with the Mob, a murder trial, showgirls, book-burning Supreme Court judges, a hell-bent, coonskin-capped senator, a poetry-spouting, songwriting defense lawyer, and horsewhipped-girls! There was anticomics crusader Dr. Fredric Wertham’s intense testimony against this noirish porn, murdered bums, and the neo-Nazi Jewish juvenile delinquents inspired by Nights of Horror, the Brooklyn Thrill Killers!
Joe did well over 200 illustrations and a comic of this erotic bent, but only half of these images fit in the book. Of course, I have top choices within those faves. Here’s my top five:
Next to the illustration I used for the cover of the book, I think this has characters that look the most like the signature characters of Metropolis, Superman and Lois Lane. And is that a Lana Lang look-alike lounging in the background, taking it all in? The Nights of Horror book from the 1950s that this is from says that “Estelle is a voluptuary of a very high order. Her subjugation of Hartley Wordsworth through his exploitation of his love for the unusual and the exotic is a tale of terror and thrilling spiciness that will leave the reader spellbound.”
Girl on girl action! I’d like to use a phrase Stan Lee often exclaims: “Nuff said!”
For just sheer wackiness there’s nothing like this torture machine a Lex Luthor clone put a Lois dead ringer through. Can I find one of these on eBay?!?
A butt bongo! When I showed Robert Crumb the Shuster porn, he wrote that it had “surprising, sadistically inclined scenarios.” I didn’t show him this one, which I think he would find music to his eyes!
This is now my mostest favorite illustration, and, I swear, I squeamishly wasn’t even going to put it in the book at first! It’s so nuts! The original caption said, “The red ants bit and nipped where honey had been smeared.” Wowooo! Actually this is a beautifully composed, exquisitely rendered drawing, showing what a master cartoonist Joe Shuster was. And this reveals Joe Shuster was a progressive saboteur! One villain is hooded, a slap against the Ku Klux Klan, and though the bare-chested black man is a villain, too, he’s drawn with a dignity that wasn’t always prevalent in the 1950s. And of course Joe Shuster, besides being a innovative and masterful cartoonist and everything else, was ahead of his time in presenting frank sexual fantasies. Joe Shuster is super, man!