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Merrimack Valley

February 2, 2013

Author to speak on Jewish origins of Superman


Seigel was short, fat and wore thick glasses and was often bullied because of his name and appearance.

”He was telling his own story through Superman,” Tye said. “He saw himself as Clark Kent, if only the other kids or the girls would see his true self.”

Tye admits he wished he had some of Superman’s powers including flying and the ability to read an entire library of books in a flash.

“People only saw his strength, but there was another positive message, he was really smart,” Tye said.

Tye said Superman has remained popular because his persona has evolved with each era.

He said in the 1930s, Superman was a crime fighter, in the 1940s, he protected the home front by deliberately failed his eye exam so he would not fight in World War II.

“If he had gone to war, people would have asked, ‘Why didn’t we win? It was also a tool to help Americans buy war bonds.” On one of the radio shows, Superman speaks about the Klu Klax Klan.

”He is consistent; about righteousness and about right and wrong and basically, that’s all we want in a hero,” Tye said.

Tye, a former newspaper reporter, said he wrote the book to delve into the history of the longest living hero and why Americans like the heroes they do.

Tye did research for two years for the book, including interviewing 200 people; reading everything he could find on Seigel, even his private diaries as well as books on Greek mythology and American history of the time. He also watched all 104 episodes of the television shows, numerous movies and listened to radio broadcasts.

“If you call work reading comics, it’s been incredibly fun,” Tye said.

Tye was born in Haverhill and graduated from Brown University.

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