Comic Legends: When Did Superman First Fly?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and fourth week of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, it's all Superman legends!

Here's Part 1 of this week's Comic Book Legends Revealed! Let's continue!


Superman first purposefully flew in the Fleischer cartoons.



A very popular piece of comic book lore over the years is that Superman first began to fly in the Fleischer cartoons because it was easier for the animators to simply lift the drawing of Superman up rather than actually having to animate him leaping, which Superman was doing in the comic books of the time. And it's BASICALLY true, in that A. that's why the cartoons did it and B. they did check with DC to see if it was okay, since DC was still having Superman leap in their comics of the time (well, DC was called National at the time, but you know what I mean).

That's the story as I told it in my book, "Was Superman a Spy?", which you can buy here. And, again, it's pretty much what happened.

However, as I detailed in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed many moons ago, Superman actually flew in the comics BEFORE that point, due to a mistake by artist Leo Nowak. Nowak was new to the book and I imagine he just figured that Superman could fly, as while Superman technically was just leaping, most artists drew it in such a fashion where it often looked like he was basically flying. Nowak just took that to a whole other level in 1941's "Superman" #10...

So Superman flew in the comics before he did in the Fleischer cartoons. But, again, that was an artistic mistake. Fleischer still made a conscious decision to have Superman fly, which was unique at the time.

Or was it?

You see, in the very second episode of "The Adventure of Superman" radio show, in February of 1940, "Clark Kent, Reporter", Superman is flying (he opens the episode by hovering in the sky)....

This makes sense, of course, as the radio show opened with the famous "Up in the sky! Look!" "It's a bird!" "It's a plane!" "It's Superman!" and that doesn't really work if the dude is just leaping around, right?

The radio show, of course, didn't really care about the comic book all that much, as it invented a lot of its own plots on its own, including how Clark Kent came to be (in their version of the origin, Superman landed on Earth as a full grown man).

So when Fleischer made their fateful decision to make Superman fly, which the comics ultimately adopted themselves, Superman had already flown for over a year in the radio show.

I'm pretty sure that a reader wrote in to tell me about this, but I can't find it in my e-mails. Maybe it was on Twitter? Whoever it was that wrote in about this, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com to let me know if it was you who told me about this!

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at CBR: Was the only romance cut from the film, "Love Actually", a lesbian romance?

Check back tomorrow for part 3 of this week's legends! It involves Superman's 50th anniversary!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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