An Invincible Dream (Conclusion)

Share

Last week: Joe and Jerry were just two Jewish kids who loved science fiction and adventure pulps. Both boys were sons of immigrants, both had overcome social and economic adversity, both dreamed of better things. After they met in a Cleveland high school, they began to hang out together, dream together, and create together! And together, Joe and Jerry came up with a brilliant idea for a new heroic character. There had never been anything like it. The two young men knew the idea couldn’t miss. Or could it?! Often, timing is everything. Was the world ready for something different? Probably so. Were the publishers ready? Not yet.

Joe and Jerry modeled their new science fiction character after the Old Testament hero Samson, and decided to make him an alien being trying to fit in to life on earth — because that’s what they themselves felt like in America, strangers in a strange land. And, like the story of Moses, their character’s mother would place her baby in a vessel that his father would launch into the river of space. The vessel would find it’s way to earth, where this extremely foreign child would grow up. He would live among us, blessing us with his special talents; but he could never be one of us. Even though he looked identical to humans, he would never actually feel like one. He would never be able to forget he was an alien.

Joe the Artist.

We said America was a land of opportunity, didn’t we? Originally, Joe and Jerry got the idea to market the hero as a comic strip for daily newspapers. They showed their ideas to an editor named Max Gaines. Gaines wasn’t interested. Then the boys approached several newspaper syndicates, none of which were interested in running a strip featuring their hero. So Joe and Jerry finally threw in the towel. They put away their story samples and started working on other things.

During the mid-thirties, something very American and very Jewish was beginning to captivate readers: comic books — which were mostly reprints of the Sunday “Funnies.” By 1938, magazine publishers began to fully realize the profitability of the form. One such publisher decided to start up a comics magazine featuring all new material. Word got around to Gaines, who apparently hadn’t forgot young Joe and Jerry. He contacted all the right people, and Joe and Jerry’s comic strip, reformatted as comic-book pages, was published in July 1938 as the lead story in the first issue of new magazine.

Jerry the Writer.

The hero created by two Jewish boys was an immediate hit. The character literally took off. Other publishers quickly copied him, and a lucrative new entertainment genre was born. A year later Joe and Jerry’s hero got his own comic book, with his name as the title (a first for comics). The next year a popular radio show premiered. It was almost immediately followed, in 1941, by a series of high-quality animated shorts that played before feature films. Eventually, the character got the live-action treatment, in a 1948 movie serial. All these appearances of the character were hugely successful.

In 1952, Joe and Jerry’s creation burst into television! The show was such a hit that people went out and purchased TV sets just so they could see it. There were lunch boxes, toys, games, and costumes. The trend of licensing a character for tie-in merchandise started with this character, and it changed the face of marketing. There were more cartoons and trading cards, and finally, in 1978, the character received the big-budget motion picture treatment. The movie cleaned up at the box office, and was followed by three sequels and another TV series.

Still another weekly series premiered in 2001 and ran for ten years. And in 2013, the most expensive movie version yet, premiered to legions of excited fans. It made $668 million worldwide, and its sequel, arriving in 2016, is one of the most discussed and anticipated movies in years. Have you figured out who we’re talking about yet?

Today, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman is one of the most recognizable characters in the world. He’s credited with jumpstarting an art form that has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry. If not for the success of Superman, there’d be no Batman or Captain America or Spiderman. And the movie industry would have lost the source material for several of its highest grossing films. In fact, movie versions of comic books (we call them graphic novels these days) have helped to invigorate Hollywood — just as Superman invigorated comics. It’s quite possible Superman is the most important fictional character ever created, the match that lit the fuse that ignited an entire industry — several industries, actually. But it almost didn’t happen!!! Superman almost succumbed to the kryptonite of rejection!

“Write the vision; make it plain … For still the vision awaits its appointed time; If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come….” (Habakkuk 2:2-3 ESV)

Here’s 77 Years of An Invincible Dream:

1941 theatrical shorts.
Kirk Alyn, 1948 serial.

 

 

George Reeves, 1952 TV series.
Superman comics were as popular as ever in the sixties!

.

 

Christopher Reeve in the first big movie version, 1978

 

Still stamping out crime in 2008!

 

Henry Cavill in Man of Steel, 2013. (Sequel in 2016)
Share

The Christmas Catastrophe (Angel in the Kitchen)

Share

Hi, I’m Kerri the InSinkErator.

Yum, yum, yum!

Having trouble pronouncing my name? Say, “Er-a-ter.” Now say “In-Sink-Erator.” Now say it fast!”

I beg your pardon!!! I am NOT a garbage disposal! I do help my pals Tom and Wilma with kitchen cleanup, by getting rid of coffee grounds and other food scraps — but I’d never confess to eating garbage! Would you?!? No matter. I’m here to share with you the story of the Christmas Catastrophe.

How well I remember it. It happened many years ago, in another kitchen. Wilma was deep frying  a batch of delicious egg rolls for our annual Christmas open-house. (At least, I think they were delicious. No one ever gave me a piece to sample. All of the guests enthusiastically wolfed them down, leaving behind nothing for me but an occasional lemon slice from a well-drained glass of ice tea! Oops, enough about me.)

After deep frying her crispy egg rolls, Wilma made a real boo-boo! Without thinking, she poured the super-heated oil from her deep fryer down my gullet. I tried to warn her — I was yawning at the time, because hanging out in the sink can get pretty boring — but I never got a chance. As many of you know by now, just about everything in the kitchen has a message to relate, which is why Tom and Wilma affectionately refer to each of us as an Angel in the Kitchen! But what happened next left me speechless! One minute I’m daydreaming, the next I have a mouthful of boiling oil! And, well, you’re not supposed to talk with your mouth full.

What made things worse was that the oil wouldn’t go down! I already had some discarded celery and onion pieces caught in my throat. I needed to cough and politely clear my throat, and then inform Wilma that it’s not good to pour “grease” down the drain — especially grease approaching the temperature of molten lava!

Too late! To my horror, Wilma flipped my switch, and like an erupting volcano, I spewed out red-hot oil — right in her face! I heard her cry out, as she quickly (and blindly) turned on the faucet and repeatedly splashed her seared face with cold water. She was careful to gently pat her face, and not to rub her scalded skin or burning eyes. To her credit, she stayed calm, despite thoughts that she’d blinded herself.

I wish I could say the same about Tom. At first he panicked. But then he handled it, and quickly drove his wife to the emergency room.

The ER doctor flushed her eyes, and applied a thick white ointment all over her face, which made her look like Casper the Friendly Ghost. He said she had 2nd and 3rd degree burns around her eyes, and that she was lucky there was no eye damage. To which Wilma gently responded, “Not lucky, but blessed! God protected my eyes!”)

We couldn’t locate a photo of Wilma’s face covered with white glop, but it looked something like this.

The doctor smiled and gave her an antibiotic — which was wise, because later she ran a low-grade fever — and then Tom drove her back home. Along the way, he glanced over at her blistered and swollen face, and said “We’ll have to cancel our gathering.” But they didn’t. That evening, Wilma greeted their guests with a face covered in white glop and missing half of one eyebrow! She wanted their guests to celebrate with her; she’d been wounded in the line of kitchen duty, but according to the doctor, she wouldn’t be permanently scarred. Best of all, she could see (!) — all the ugly Christmas sweaters their guests were wearing.

Today you’d never know Wilma was wounded in the kitchen: she has no scars, and no fear of frying! Oh, sure, she’s still missing a tiny piece of one eyebrow, but I think it gives her character!

Interestingly, most accidents in the home occur in the kitchen. As Tom and Wilma frequently state, the kitchen is the heart of the home; and it’s filled with sharp objects and lots of stuff that can burn. People have gotten cut, pierced, spattered and singed! But do their kitchen accidents and mistakes drive them away from cooking? Nope! Their less fortunate experiences only tend to make them more careful and a little wiser!

Life is like cooking. And like the kitchen, the human heart can be filled with things that cut, pierce, and blister. Disappointments and failures can wound like a chef’s knife. A betrayal, a divorce, or a broken relationship; an accident, an illness, or a financial setback; a bad decision, a mistake, or an indiscretion — can all be emotionally wounding.

Face it, at one time or another, everyone gets burnt by something in life. Sometimes, however, it’s our own lack of wisdom or carelessness that leads to suffering. But God doesn’t want our mishaps and emotional wounds to keep us from enjoying life. If you’re bleeding over a severed relationship, don’t allow your wounds to keep you from trusting people and forming new friendships. If you’ve been blistered by a bum deal, or you’re stinging from a stupid mistake, don’t allow the pain to keep you from moving forward. God can heal all the wounds of the human heart, while forgiving our own shortcomings, mistakes, and failures — if we let Him!

When it first happened, Wilma’s careless goof literally brought tears to her eyes! But she trusted God to heal her. As a result, she can now look back on “The Christmas Catastrophe” and smile. God is faithful, and time can heal all wounds — and “The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.” (Psalm 30:5 MSG) — when the time is used wisely.

Have you been burnt in life? Although it hurts now, you’ll eventually heal, just like Wilma’s seared face. Give God time to heal your heart, but put the time to good use. Don’t withdraw from life and relationships. Remain involved with people and activities.

Above all, spend a significant amount of your healing time with the Lord in prayer. Jesus Christ can definitely relate to you, because He “…was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” (Isaiah 53:3 NLT) And He’s faithful to heal all your hurts: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3 NIV)

Show God your emotional cuts, burns, and bruises. Ask him to heal your heart. Trust in His power and faithfulness, and then move forward in life. God will not only heal you, He’ll also ensure your heart isn’t permanently scarred! You’ll soon be back in the “kitchen of life” and cooking up great things!

Share