Joe Shuster’s final interview with Henry Mietkiewicz

For your enjoyment we’ve posted Joe Shuster’s final interview in April 1992 with JSA Hall of Fame Committee Chair and former Toronto Star Reporter Henry Mietkiewicz. In the interview, Shuster’s Canadian heritage and memories of his childhood in Toronto and how they shaped his career as a young cartoonist are discussed.

Shuster was born in Canada, he spent his childhood in Canada, worked as a paperboy for one of the country’s biggest newspapers, always had strong family ties in the country and returned often as a young man before and at the height of his cartooning career, and cites the city of Toronto as a major influence on his artistic choices.  Certainly he did not create Superman in Canada with his best friend Jerry (they did it when living in Cleveland, Ohio where the pair met – about a five and a half hour drive from Toronto — a little further than Ottawa but closer than Montreal), but clearly it was on his mind when he was shaping the world of the first superhero of the 20th Century and one of the most influential and recognizable fictional characters in modern popular culture… but we aren’t named “The Superman Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards” (as Superman is NOT Canadian… he’s Kryptonian)… we’re named after a comic book artist whose name is known by most people around the world for his contributions to comic books who happened to be from Canada originally, and for that he is the ideal choice to be the namesake for these awards.

For reasons not specified in the article, Shuster says he was unable to return to Canada – specifically Toronto (where his extended family lived) after 1941, a little over three years after the debut of the Superman character. He would have been 27 years old at the time of his last visit, and it may have been an aspect of his becoming a naturalized American citizen – or he just might have been too busy with work. That final trip, in December of 1941, was to attend the wedding of his first cousin Frank Shuster (half of the famous Canadian comedy duo Wayne & Shuster and one of the country’s most recognizable television personalities). While in Toronto for Frank’s wedding he reportedly donated a drawing of Superman that was the highlight of a charity auction to raise money for needy children.

Illustration by Dave Sim, drawn from a photograph taken at the time this article was written.

Illustration by Dave Sim, drawn from a photograph taken at the time the Mietkiewicz article was written.