Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 22, 2004
Landmark creation of Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster. “The Man of Steel” was the star of an equally landmark series of animated shorts produced by the Fleischer Studio for Paramount in the early 1940s, the style of which has rarely, if ever, been equalled. Since then, of course, the Last Son of Krypton has starred in radio serials, film serials, television programs -- including a notable series in the early 1950s starring George Reeves, films, and a current series being produced by Warner Brothers, which has owned the character since the 1960s.
The character, and the “Look! Up in the sky -- it’s a bird -- it’s a plane -- it’s SUPERMAN!” tagline have been ribbed numerous times in WB cartoons. Goofy Groceries (Clampett, 1941) was a very early spoof of the character, coming out even before the Fleischer version. Super Rabbit (Jones, 1942), a landmark cartoon for Chuck Jones, is another deft poke at the conventions of the character. Scrap Happy Daffy (Tashlin, 1943) uses the “up-in-the-sky” tag for the appearance by Daffy as Super American. The Private Snafu short Snafuperman (Freleng, 1944) even utilises the same fanfare music that was used in the Paramount cartoons. Swallow the Leader (McKimson, 1949) and Fast and Furry-ous (Jones, 1949) feature gags in which predators attempt to see if the old adage that “clothes make the man” applies to them. (It doesn’t.) Finally, there is Stupor Duck (McKimson, 1956), a detailed parody of the character starring a hapless Daffy Duck. Two other brief uses can be seen in My Little Duckaroo (Jones, 1954), in which Superguy is one failed attempt by Daffy to bring Nasty Canasta to justice, and Gonzales’ Tamales (Freleng, 1957), in which the “it’s a bird, it’s a plane” tagline is used.