BONUS: Clark uses the term “nowheresville.”

§ March 5th, 2012 § Filed under superman § 13 Comments

So a kid brings in some sample comic strips to get a job at the Daily Planet, and Clark (Superman) Kent quickly determines that the art school that encouraged the kid may be perpetrating a scam:

First, Clark calling the kid “no-talent” seems kind of harsh for Superman, even in his disguise as a mild-mannered reporter. Of course, he’s not calling the kid no-talent to his face or anything, but still. And frankly, the art’s not that bad…clearly Clark hasn’t read some of the black-and-white boom books from the 1980s. Granted, it’s about 20 years too early, but Clark obviously has no idea how good the cartooning world has it.

Anyway, Clark decides to investigate the art school by applying to it himself:

Good gravy, Clark, get it together. …And frankly, I find myself troubled by the idea of a Superman who isn’t super-ambidextrous.

So the art school takes him in, and, via various plot hoohars, finds himself put to work forging famous pieces of art. And because this is a Superman story, Superman travels back in time to learn the skills of the masters directly from the masters themselves. And, on one trip, where exposure to certain energies during his time travel turns Superman younger and, um, blue…well, just check this out:

Imagine if the face on that painting was just left blank. That would have baffled art historians forever. Or imagine Thomas Gainsborough actually being able to paint a normal-looking face despite having a blue-faced boy as a model, just like he was able to paint a frilly fancy-boy outfit based on a model wearing skintight circus strongman gear.

In the end, the forgery ring with the art school front is caught out and hauled up the river to do a dime in the graybar hotel, and there’s even a happy ending for that kid about whom even Superman basically thought “don’t give up your day job.”

THE UNSEEN IRONIC ENDING: dropping newspaper circulation and shrinking comic pages drive the kid into the more stable and lucrative business of art forgery. OH THE TRAGEDY

from Superman #211 (November 1968) by Frank Robbins, Ross Andru & Mike Esposito

13 Responses to “BONUS: Clark uses the term “nowheresville.””

  • Dave-El says:

    IIRC (based on past random reads of the GCBD), Frank Robbins was writing for SuperBOY around this time and this story almost seems like a re-worked Superboy tale. Change the kid to a fellow classmate who thinks he can get his strip in the Smallville Weekly Tribune and remove the need for the plot device of the time energies making Superman younger and voila! A Superboy story!

  • Casey says:

    Pretty clever, Dave, you honor the house of El. I can kind of picture Superboy talking like that, and being a bit of a little prick, but it doesn’t fit adult Clark at all. Plus, pre-Crisis Superman was well established as ambidextrous. That’s just sloppy.

  • Old Bull Lee says:

    Will Superman be able to uncover the terrible secret behind Art School Confidential?

  • Lawrence Fechtenberger says:

    I would bet a full fifty cents that DC seriously considered publishing “Ape with a Cape.”

  • Rich Handley says:

    This strip is as crooked as a box of pretzels.

  • Ironically, this is the exact same way that Rob Liefeld was hired at DC & Marvel.

  • MrJM says:


    Congratulations on your elaborate tribute to the late Davy Jones.

    — MrJM

  • Ward Fowler says:

    Continuing the musical theme, I wonder if the great reggae producer Lee Perry ever saw this comic…

  • L L says:

    Dave-El, nice catch. I think you are right on the mark.

    My brain itches when reading these out of character Hipster-Doofus Superman stories.
    How many horrors are happening in Metropolis alone that his keen Super Senses are acutely aware of? And yet he just sits there. No wonder Batman gets pissy with him.

  • philip says:

    I can only hope that DC has, and continues to, consider publishing “Ape With a Cape.”

    And I’m pretty sure that a “box of pretzels” is just a box. i.e, squaresville. ’60s Superman is terrible at metaphor.

  • David says:

    Mixed Metaphor Superman!! The phrase is “twisted as a box of pretzels!” How much kryptonite did it take to make him that dumb? And the whole storyline is oddly suspicious. Did DC have an axe to grind against that art school that advertised in the back of their comics for about 20 years? Clark is totally ripping off the context of that ad when he attempts to draw the hot chick! (I tried out that ad, too, when I was eight–except I drew the puppy) :(

  • Anonymous says:

    > > Plus, pre-Crisis Superman was well established as ambidextrous. That’s just sloppy.

    Superman of Earth-1 was ambidextrous. The Superman of Earth-211 in these stories clearly was not.

  • Kid Kyoto says:

    I really wonder if there isn’t a grudge in here, whether an editor tired of lousy submissions, an artist who got fleesed by a mail order art school or a well-veiled shot at some compeditor.