Superman has a new mystery to solve: Who stole his comic book about President Kennedy?
A prominent illustrator of Superman’s comics, Al Plastino of Shirley, L.I., is suing to force Heritage Auctions to disclose the identity of the person selling his original artwork for a 1963 comic book called “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy.”
Plastino, nearly 92 and in a hospital intensive care unit, had thought for 50 years that the artwork had been sent to the Kennedy Library in Boston.
Al Plastino/DC Comics
Artwork from “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy.”
He discovered only last month at the New York Comic Con that the Kennedy Library never had possession of his drawings, and that Heritage would instead be auctioning them this month, the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination.
Plastino’s lawyer, Dale Cendali, said his client was “visibly shaken” when he saw the sale promoted at the convention in a Heritage booth. It has an estimated value of about $50,000, she said.
“This book was very meaningful for him,” Cendali said.
John F. Kennedy, Jr. was assasinated before Al Plastino completed “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy.”
She said Plastino’s publisher, DC Comics, had commissioned the book to promote Kennedy’s physical fitness programs for children and Plastino was working on it when he heard Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.
Publication was briefly suspended, but according to court papers, the book was issued because “President Johnson wanted it published, as a tribute to his predecessor.”
DC Comics artist Al Plastino drawing Superman for fans at Armory in NYC, 1949.
The publisher wrote in the book: “We dedicate to the memory of our late, beloved President this plea for his physical fitness program, to which he was wholeheartedly devoted during his life.”
Cendali said Plastino adjusted the story so that it ended with an image of Kennedy in the clouds “looking down on everyone in a moving way.”
She said Plastino hoped “it would help kids struggling with a tragedy make some sense of it all.”
Al Plastino poses with one of his illustrations for “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy.”
For decades, she said, Plastino bragged to friends that the original artwork was in Boston because the publisher promised in writing that it would be sent to the JFK Library.
She said he was not aware that the artwork was sold in 1993 by Sotheby’s as part of a consignment from rock and roll star Graham Nash, and it is still unclear how and when Nash acquired it and who bought it.
“It’s our hope that the people who own it do the right thing,” Cendali said, suggesting that the art could still be donated. “Time is of the essence,” she added, noting that Plastino is critically ill.
Meanwhile, she said, Heritage has postponed its sale of the illustrations indefinitely.
There was no immediate response from Heritage.
Nash could not be reached for comment.