I wrote yesterday about the passing of comic book hero Jerry Robinson, the man who created the Joker, a noted curator and artists’ rights pioneer. In that article I mentioned Phil Yeh, the man who ran Jerry Siegel’s press release that alerted the world to the mistreatment that Siegel and Joe Shuster had faced at the hands of DC after they left the company in the 1940s (and upon Siegel’s return in the 1960s).
I reached out to Mr. Yeh, who is the the head of Cartoonists Across America & The World, a grassroots organization dedicated to “enhancing appreciation and understanding of the arts, and [promoting] reading, music and art using cartoons and humor”.
Here is some of what Mr. Yeh had to say about his role in uniting Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel with legends Neil Adams and Jerry Robinson, as well as Mr. Robinson’s long legacy.
Phil Yeh on finding out about Jerry Siegel’s plight…
“I became the first journalist to interview Jerry Siegel in 1975 after he had sent out a thousand press releases about what had happened to him and Joe Shuster. I was 21 in those days and my publication was only a couple years old. I called Jerry I was shocked to find that no one had bothered to chase down the story. After going to his apartment in LA and getting the story about how badly they were treated by then Warner (DC comics) Corporation, I made a call to New York to see if anyone would go on the record with their side of the story. We were a very small free paper back in 1975, but we were read by the editor of the LA Times and many important people. I made this clear to Warner and they promised to call me back, because the Superman movie was a new project for them and they couldn’t afford any bad press. I printed the story in our next issue, we were monthly, and once we did the story, the LA Times and then EVERYONE in New York picked it up! Jerry and Neal Adams stepped in the rest is well known.”
Mr. Yeh notes that he has done little to publicize what he did to get Siegel’s story out into the world and he describes Robinson’s reaction when he learned of his (Yeh’s) role…
“Jerry was a real gentleman of the highest order. He was shocked to learn how the story had come to the attention of the world and we became friends.”
On Robinson’s activism in the name of artists rights and why that fight must continue for those still left out in the cold by corporate comics…
“Jerry Robinson really cared about artists’ rights, and I must say that there are not many people willing to stand up to these big companies and fight for the principles that Superman believed in. I have long believed that artists should get fairer treatment by the corporate powers that earn many millions, and in the case of Superman and Batman and all of Marvel’s characters created by Jack Kirby, it’s BILLIONS of dollars earned off these creators who often got next to nothing for their ideas and hard work. What has happened to the Kirby family is indeed a real injustice.”
Mr. Yeh also weighed in on the state of comics today, agreeing with one of my points from yesterdays article…
“You are absolutely right about most of the current crop of comic book fans in the United States of America caring more about actors who play The Joker rather than the creator. They are very much a product of corporate brain washing and most of them only know these characters from tv, films, and video games. They have absolutely zero clue about the people who CREATED these characters. Very few Americans now even bother to read at all.”
Mr. Yeh is presently touring the globe in an effort to enhance literacy. He’s slated to appear at the Haifa Comics Festival next month. You can find out more about Mr. Yeh, his work, and his mission by visiting his website, wingedtiger.com.
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Written by Jason Tabrys (@jtabrys)
The former editor-in-chief, Jason still reappears in the rafters of our fair site from time to time but he now spends his days leaping from one place to another, trying to put right what once went wrong. You can still find his words across the toxic constellation that is the… More »
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