Saving Superman's House: Comic Book Fans Unite

The house in Cleveland where the Superman character was created in 1936.

The house in Cleveland where the Superman character was created in 1936. Mhari Saito/WCPN hide caption

itoggle caption Mhari Saito/WCPN
Homeowner Jefferson Gray in the room Jerry Siegel once lived in.

Homeowner Jefferson Gray in the room Jerry Siegel once lived in, Sept. 4, 2008. Mhari Saito/WCPN hide caption

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Cover illustration of the 1938 'Action Comics No. 1' featuring the first appearance of Superman. i i

Cover illustration of the 1938 Action Comics No. 1 featuring the first appearance of Superman. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Cover illustration of the 1938 'Action Comics No. 1' featuring the first appearance of Superman.

Cover illustration of the 1938 Action Comics No. 1 featuring the first appearance of Superman.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1986, the city of Cleveland declared the house where Jerry Siegel thought up the Superman character to be a landmark. But today, the house is falling apart — and a group of high-profile fans is trying to save it, by auctioning art and other work.

The house in Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood is now owned by Jefferson Gray, who wasn't even aware of its significance when he bought it.

Urged on by novelist Brad Meltzer, some of the biggest names in the comic book industry formed the Siegel & Shuster Society. The nonprofit started collecting original art for an eBay auction. All the money goes to fix up the house.

One of the items being bid upon is an appearance in the comic book Powers, by Brian Bendis. He says his auction offering is a tribute to Siegel and Joe Shuster. Superman's creators signed over the rights to their iconic character to a precursor of DC Comics, but then spent decades in court fighting to get them back.

"Things have changed so much because of what they did that now I own my books and I can do whatever I want," Bendis said. "And Powers is a book that I own and now you can be in it, if you win the auction."

The online auction goes through the rest of the month. Saving Superman's house, comic book fans say, is the least they can do for their hero.

Mhari Saito reports from member station WCPN in Cleveland.

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