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Posted by on Feb 11, 2015 in News | 0 comments

The Fetish Art Of Superman’s Joe Shuster

Joe Shuster

Written By

Polly Dix

Polly Dix praises inappropriate behavior, a crusader for the irregular, and thrives off of the idea of “the new normal”. She uses her wit and intellect to charm the masses.

Since the beginning of time, or at least the dawn of the daguerreotype, one subject has captivated artists of all mediums and movements alike with its beauty, intrigue, and mystique. It is the female form, and for many, there is nothing more beautiful than a naked woman. Erotic photography has captivated artists, theoreticians, and consumers for over 150 years. Prior to 1839, nude renderings were namely produced via drawings, paintings and engravings, all of which lacked the detail and veracity of the photograph. Thus, there was something inherently more illicit about an erotic photograph than a painting of the same subject, for they were considered closer to real life. It was from this that fetish art was born and it depicts people in fetishistic situations such as bondage, BDSM, transvestism, and domination/submission scenarios.

The Fetish Art Of Superman’s Joe Shuster

Joseph “Joe” Shuster was a Canadian-American comic book artist who is best known for co-creating the DC Comics character Superman, with writer Jerry Siegel. After Superman first appeared in Action Comics No. 1 in June 1938, Shuster was involved in a number of legal battles concerning the ownership of the Superman character, eventually gaining recognition for his part in its creation. His comic book career after Superman was relatively unsuccessful, and by the mid-1970′s Shuster had left the field completely due to partial blindness. Or so people thought. In reality, Shuster had moved onto a new type world of cartoons. This world was dark and filled with naked women with whips, brutish men brandishing red-hot pokers, exotic torture, and politically incorrect spankings. What makes the illustrations more than simply a curiosity of the times, is the disturbing fact that many of the characters look exactly like Shuster’s Superman and Lois Lane.

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After Shuster’s death, his unsigned work for low-rent bondage and discipline magazines of the early 1950′s were discovered. They had titles such as Nights of Horror, Pink Chemise, Black Chemise, and Rod Rule, which filled in some missing pieces of the Superman origin myth. Whether his contributions to these mobbed-up, under the counter publications were dictated, as Stan Lee once argued, by Shuster’s financial desperation, or by a more complex mix of monetary need, revenge fantasy, and artistic predilection is uncertain. What is clear is that the images that went undiscovered represent some of Shuster’s best and, well, his most alluring work. Flagellation, bondage, torture, teenage sex cults, drug addiction, lesbianism, oral sex, exhibitionism, and voyeurism were in abundant supply. In the illustrations, topless or barely-clad young women are the chief recipients of enthusiastic and often welcomed discipline. Well-muscled male torsos, in a few cases stripped to their boxers, are also the targets of whips, paddles, and hairbrushes in the hands of grim-faced mistresses.

Although Shuster’s illustrations were considered naughty for the time, a couple of Irving Klaw photographs of a trussed-up Bettie Page have more heart in them than all of Shuster’s drawings combined. However, some of the images are of generic scenes of abuse, but most appear closely connected to episodes of stories and it has been argued that Shuster must have drawn them on that basis. For the graphic and erotic imaginaries of Shuster’s and Siegel’s Superman and more generally, fundamental elements of the superhero genres that it spawned and continues to spawn, overlap in important respects with those of seamier projects.

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