Joseph "Joe" Shuster (July 10, 1914 - July 30, 1992) was a Canadian-born artist best known for co-creating Superman with Jerry Siegel.
Joseph Shuster was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Jewish immigrants. His father, Julius, an immigrant from Rotterdam, and his mother, Ida, who had come from Kiev, were barely able to make ends meet. As a youngster, Joe Shuster worked as a newspaper boy for the Toronto Star and, as a hobby, he liked to sketch. The sights and sounds of a big city newspaper, the hustle bustle of its offices, and the fantasy world of the newspaper's color comics had a powerful impact on him.
He was a cousin of one of Canada's most popular comedians, Frank Shuster. At the age of ten, Joe Shuster's family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where, by the age of 18, he and his friend Jerome Siegel began publishing a short-lived "Science Fiction" magazine. Shuster made the drawings and Siegel did the writing, creating a super character that a few years later evolved into a comic strip. Employed by DC-National, the pair produced a variety of comic stories, including the lead feature in the company's issue of the first Action Comics in 1938. The feature character in that issue, Superman, was an enormous success that led to what is referred to as the "Golden Age of Comic Books."
When Superman first appeared, its hero, Clark Kent, worked for the Daily Star newspaper, named by Shuster after his old employer in Toronto. On this basis, Toronto, rather than New York City, could be seen as the model for Metropolis. When the comic strip received international distribution, the company permanently changed the name to the Daily Planet.
Joe Shuster very quickly became famous as the co-creator of one of the most well-known and commercially successful fictional characters of the 20th century. At the time, in the midst of the Great Depression, he made a very good living from producing Superman stories. However, the copyright to his and Siegel's work belonged to their employer, and when the company refused to compensate them to the degree they believed appropriate, the pair sued. In 1948, the New York State Supreme Court limited their settlement to $60,000 each, at the time a large amount for someone, but very small compared to the multi-millions in profits their employer was generating annually. After the bitter legal wrangling, Joe Shuster left the comics business and his and Siegel's byline was dropped by DC comics.
In 1975, Siegel launched a publicity campaign, in which Shuster participated, protesting DC Comics' treatment of him and Shuster. In the face of a great deal of negative publicity over their handling of the affair, DC's parent company Warner Communications reinstated the byline dropped more than 30 years earlier and granted the pair a lifetime pension of $35,000 a year.
Joe Shuster, nearly blind & very bitter about his treatment from DC died on July 30, 1992 just short of his seventy-eighth birthday. Though forgotten by the publisher that should have eulogized him as their savior, he will never be forgotten by the millions of fans worldwide who have read his legendary creation.