I'd argue that the first genuinely successful adaptation of comic book superheroes outside the comics medium wasn't in live-action film or on television, but instead in the Superman animated shorts of Fleischer Studios. Created in Max and Dave Fleischer's Miami studio during the early days of World War II, Superman was a relatively high-budget concept for the time and employed a stylish Art Deco look that stands up to this day. We've known for a while that Superman and Clark Kent were voiced by radio personality Bud Collyer, but my friends over at Cartoon Brew uncovered something I never seen before: Visually, Superman was modeled after on a muscular young man named Karol Krauser, who would go on to become a fairly popular pro wrestler in the 1950s and '60s as part of a tag team called the Mad Russians.
Wrestling and comics ... when will the connections ever stop? Or should they?