MY WORLD: Men of steel and other summer pleasures


Normally, Monday nights are fairly quiet at the local movie theater I frequent.

On a recent Monday night, however, the joint was jumping. It looked as if all the females in St. Charles County had received a memo that a) free designer shoes were being passed out, or b) Hollywood’s top 10 hunks were making a special guest appearance.

Apparently lusty feminine minds think alike, because all of us standing in the ticket line were buying tickets for the movie “Magic Mike.”

I would like to say my gal pals and I were there strictly for the compelling story line, the Oscar-worthy acting and the profound dialogue. I would like to say that, but my mama didn’t raise fibbers.

I venture to say every woman in that audience was there for the same purpose: to see good-looking actors strut their stuff in the male stripper story line while showing off rock-hard muscles Superman would envy. If one of the characters fell for the girl next door, so much the better.

This leads to me what this column is really about — the men of steel and the women who love them.

I propose the theory that we red-blooded American females like both sides of Superman — the virile, powerful super hero side, and the intelligent, thoughtful, perhaps even shy and bespectacled Clark Kent side. We want it all, and if he pays for dinner, and doesn’t live with his mother, so much the better.

I’ve been in love with the comic book version of Superman (and his alter ego Clark Kent) since I was an awkward adolescent in the 1960s. One of my favorite things about summer was that I had time to read, and some of my favorite reading material was obtained at Ahmann’s News Stand at 223 N. Main St. in St. Charles.

My dad and I shared a mutual love of Superman comic books (although I suspect for different reasons), and I have fond memories of us occasionally going to Ahmann’s on Saturday mornings and whiling away some time turning the comic book racks, looking for just the right issues to take home. At about a dime per copy, even the poor farmer and his daughter could afford a few each.

I will forever associate the smell of pipe tobacco and newsprint with summer leisure because Ahmann’s also sold tobacco products and confectionaries along with the printed word. I remember feeling a little outnumbered in the manly world of Ahmann’s, as it seemed most of the customers were male. I didn’t let that stop me in my mission to catch up on the exploits of Superman, his girlfriend Lois Lane and occasionally Supergirl.

As I grew older and the comic books I bought turned darker in tone and subject matter, I moved on to other reading material and movies that still gave me my “man of steel” fix. And yes, even a happily married old baby boomer likes to indulge in that knight-in-shining-armor fantasy once in a while. There’s no mystery why “rom-com” movies and books like the Twilight series are so popular with us ladies.

From the men of steely abs in “Magic Mike” to the Man of Steel in comic books is not such a stretch. Furthermore, if you are nostalgic for the excitement of comic book heroes in general, you won’t want to miss a new exhibition opening July 27 at the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, which ironically is just up the street from where Ahmann’s used to be.

The exhibition is called “Ka-Pow! Comic Art and Storyboarding.” It’s a juried event, and artists are invited to submit original works influenced by traditional or contemporary comics; 2-D and 3-D media will be accepted. I’m hoping at least one artist will submit a sculpture of a Superman-like Man of Steel.

An opening reception from 6-8 p.m. July 27 is free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call 636-255-0270.

In a summer resplendent with Spandex-suited heroes any girl could love (witness the eye candy in “The Avengers” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” movies), I’m curious to explore a more intellectual side of comic art and stories. Faster than a speeding bullet, I’ll soon be heading to the Foundry Art Centre.

And maybe an encore performance of a certain hit movie, too.


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