Joe Shuster

The artist who created Superman had his own secret identity which can only now be revealed – as an illustrator of kinky fetish books!

Joe Shuster and his writing partner Jerry Siegel were so desperate to break into the world of comic book illustration they sold the rights to their Superman character for just 30 dollars. They later sued their employer, but the courts ruled against them. In the acrimonious aftermath of the case, they were dropped by D.C. Comics.

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Siegel found employment with another comic book publisher. A quieter man, Shuster was less successful in selling his skill as an illustrator. In 1954 he did his last real comic book work, then his confirmable credits disappear forever.

It’s now thought that, to make ends meet, he turned to doing bondage and S&M artwork for a series of booklets called Nights of Horror. Prose and pictures tell stories about women who are captured, placed in bondage and whipped. Volume One includes “Book of Torture” by Rod Lashwell and “The Strange Loves of Alice” by Gar King.

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They were sold under the counter in the early 1950s, until they were banned for violating decency laws.

Comics historian Craig Yoe recently discovered the unknown drawings in a second hand bookstore and identified them as the work of Shuster. He has now compiled a book called Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-creator Joe Shuster (published April 1st).

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Even more controversially, Shuster’s erotica uses characters that are recognisably the same as in his Superman comic strips. The cover art, for example, looks a lot like Lois Lane whipping Clark Kent. Yoe’s theory is that he did this as an act of vengeance.

While most of the drawings would come under the broad label of BDSM, there are a few specialist spanking ones. I found them at where you can read all about the book and see lots more illustrations from it.

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I can’t put names to the the faces of the “characters” in these two pictures but they have a familiar look about them.

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As a fan of F/F this one below is definitely my favourite. It’s poorer quality because I grabbed it from this YouTube video.

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Most superhero comics featured plenty of kinky stuff anyway, including bondage and spankings, so perhaps it’s not surprising to discover that one of the genre’s most important artists had a truly kinky side

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And he wasn’t the only one either, as another book by the same author proves.


I couldn’t find any spanking pics in Clean Cartoonist’s Dirty Drawings, but the cover is great, and I enjoyed the slideshow of pages from it too.

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11 thoughts on “Joe Shuster”

  1. Great find Valdor. Seems like interest in this stuff is pretty pervasive among intelligent and artistic folks like Joe. Or do you suppose he only did it for the money?

    I’m surprised this hasn’t shown up yet on Galley Cat, the publishing industry blog I monitor. How did you discover it, if I might ask?

  2. Well it’s nice to get a scoop!

    I saw this first in GQ magazine. The cover art was the only illustration, but I thought it sounded like an interesting story, and the mention of Fetish and BDSM got me wanting to find out more online. The otk spanking pics were a nice bonus which I didn’t really expect to find.

    The author mentions the Chicago Spanking Review in one of his posts. Their coverage of spankings in comic art is the best on the net and I hope they do an update on this in the near future. It will be interesting to read their take on it – and perhaps they will come up with some more pictures. That Globe and Mail piece you posted on the chat forum was good.

    I had a look at Galley Cat (which wasn’t on my radar at all) and it looks like an interesting site, so thanks for the tip, Karl. :-). One media blog that has carried the story is Boing Boing.

  3. Valdor–
    I saw a copy of this at my local comic book shop last week and was going to do a post on it for my own blog, but you beat me to it. Excellent post, as always!
    I may have to go back and buy the book now….and I’ll still probably do a post, but I feel like there’s no rush now…. 🙂

    Dr. Ken

  4. Here’s that Globe and Mail story that Valdor referred to above and that I posted on Spanking Scouts:,1035,1919#msg-1919

    So this story broke in GQ, eh.

    Maybe we’ll see it around a lot since there’s a forthcoming book to promote here, and this is a juicy story to promote it with.

    Apparently Joe is a Toronto native, thus the particular story angle for the Globe and Mail, which, while it calls itself Canada’s national newspaper, is in fact based in Toronto.

  5. Yes indeed, a great find and fab post. I had absolutely no clue about any of this, though perhaps not surprised comic book artists are pervs 🙂


  6. Just to muddy the water:

    There is the possibility that these could be “swipes”– Shuster art from “Superman” and other strips copied or traced to create spanking scenes.

    One doesn’t need to be a very good artist to do that, and it certainly is economical and quick.

    I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know what research went to it, and maybe Craig Yoe considered that possibility.

  7. Dr Ken: Well I hope you do decide to still do a post on this. I’d like to read it and I’m sure plenty of others would too.
    And you’ve actually seen the book, which is more than I have.
    Perry White was the newspaper owner in Superman right?

    Dave Wolf: Perhaps someone who has read the book will be able to shed more light on this. In the art world, there are always debates about whether paintings are by the attributed artist, or members of his “school”, or outright copies/fakes. So I guess this is no different.

    Dave: I don’t suppose you have to be a perv to be a comic book artist, but it probably helps!!

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