If you spend any time on social media, you’ve probably come across a vintage-looking poster of Superman encouraging a small gathering of youth to stand up for the “All-American” value of diversity. It, like Stan Lee’s statement on racism, has been widely shared following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Now, DC Comics has revealed the secret history of the image, the message and how they brought it back to life.
In a blog post on Friday, DC Editorial explained that the image being shared countless times on the internet is a digital restoration of a book cover distributed to schools back in 1949. DC Comics shared the image in a Tweet earlier today.
— DC (@DCComics) August 27, 2017
According to the post, the original image and text was printed on a 12 X 18″ brown paper book cover distributed to schools by an offshoot of the Anti-Defamation League, the Institute for American Democracy in 1949, the same year that DC (then National Comics) began publishing a series of public service messages featuring DC heroes in conjunction with the National Social Welfare Assembly.
The poster features the Man of Steel sharing a two-part message about the United States being made up of people of many kinds before emphasizing the importance of standing up for diversity.
“So… if YOU hear anybody talk against a schoolmate or anyone else because of his race, religion or national origin — don’t wait: tell him THAT KIND OF TALK IS UN-AMERICAN!” Superman tells kids in the poster. The author of the Superman’s message is unknown, but DC believes that the artwork is by classic Superman artist Wayne Boring.
But how did an obscure plain paper book cover become a timely, full-color reminder about core American values? That’s where the art team got involved.
“Earlier this year, our intrepid art team here at the DC office digitally restored the poster, offering a much larger and clearer image of this classic piece of art that embodies a core value that we as Americans hold so dear,” the post read.
While some online took issue with the limited diversity represented in the poster, many pointed out that even removing the context of current events, Superman’s message is a timeless reminder to respect and look out for one another — something that we need now more than ever.