Siegel/Shuster Superman cheque 'behind billion dollar comic industry' for sale

Superman's renaissance is well under way, with next year's upcoming Man of Steel blockbuster set to become a super draw in cinemas. There was also the $2.16m World Record sale of an Action Comics #1, graded 9.0, (pictured top right) in 2011.

Now a cheque which played a key role in Superman's creation is set to auction. The cheque dates to 1938, being the very one used to buy the rights to Superman from creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster that year.

This cheque was thought to have been lost forever. It was given by DC Comics to two young men from Cleveland, Siegel and Shuster, on March 1, 1938. The $130 cheque effectively created a billion dollar industry. Without it, there would be no Superman - and no Batman or Spider-Man either.

It also set in motion nearly 70 years of legal battles. Were Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster swindled by DC for just $130? Or was this cheque just fair business practice in the cut-throat world of comics? The debate continues to this day, as symbolised by this very cheque.


The cheque presented to Siegel and Shuster

It is actually made out for $412, comprising various "paid for" items. These include "Superman $130" at the top, then payment for the June 1938 Detective Comics at $210, and payments of $36 each for Adventure Comics and More Fun.

Bidding competition for this cheque will no doubt be huge when the online auction begins on March 26. It will be worth a lot more than $412 when the hammer falls, that's for sure.

Historic contracts are highly valued in the markets. See, for instance, last December's sale of the contract which established the first Apple partnership. Signed by Steve Jobs and his partners Steve Wozniak and Ronald G Wayne, it brought $1.6m at Sotheby's New York.

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