Superman license plate unveiled this morning

By Michael Sangiacomo, The Plain Dealer
on October 07, 2013 at 11:02 AM, updated October 07, 2013 at 3:18 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio Ė The new Ohio license plates bearing the insignia of Superman were unveiled Monday morning outside the modest house in Glenville where the Man of Steel was created more than 75 years ago.

State Rep. Bill Patmon, members of the board of directors of the Siegel and Shuster Society, and relatives of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster stood outside 10622 Kimberley Ave. and showed off the new plate, which is now available at all Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices. The plate can also be ordered on-line at the BMV website, which features the plate.

Society President Michael Olszewski read a letter from Jerry Siegelís daughter, Laura Siegel Larson, who said she wished she could have come to Cleveland from her home in California for the event.

"My father, his artist/collaborator Joe Shuster, and my mother would have been absolutely thrilled about this," she wrote in a letter. "I can just imagine them driving around Cleveland and excitedly pointing out the plates as they spotted them."

Hattie and Jefferson Gray, who bought the former Siegel house in the early 1980s not knowing its rich heritage, said they get visitors all the time.

"Look here," said Hattie Gray, holding up a guestbook. "Last week we had people from Brazil come and see the house. Before that we had people from Germany. Itís so nice to have all these people come by to see our house."

Patmon said he was proud and happy that the license plate was finally a reality, but it was not easy.

"It proves the old saying that if you love sausage, donít ask how itís made," he said. "I thought this would be easy when I first introduced it two years ago, but it took a lot of work to get it through."

The initial idea for a Superman license plate was first introduced in the Ohio Senate by Sen. Tom Patton, but that bill did not make it out of committee.

"Sen. Patton and I are friends and we decided to let me introduce it in the House, since the Siegel home is actually in my district," he said. "It all worked out well."

The license plate took more than two years to become a reality and only after Patmon attached the legislation to the Ohio budget. The plate includes the iconic Superman insignia and the phrase "Truth, Justice and the American Way" and is available for purchase only for Ohio vehicles. He said he had to disappoint numerous callers from as far away as California who wanted to buy the plate.

The cost of the special license plate will be $20 in addition to the normal registration fee of $34.50, plus local taxes. About half of the $20 fee will go to the Siegel and Shuster Society for future projects.

Anyone wanting to replace a current Ohio plate with a Superman plate will pay $20 plus an $11.75 plate-replacement fee and a $4.50 replacement sticker fee.

Olszewski said "something magical" happened in the house in the 1930s and you can still "feel that magic" in the air.

Siegel and Shuster created Superman around 1933 and then shopped the character around until it was purchased by what is now DC Comics. Supermanís first adventure appeared on the cover of "Action Comics" No. 1, which hit the stands in April 1938.

A near-perfect copy of that 10-cent comic book recently sold at auction for more than $2.1 million.

Patmon said he wanted to make sure the plate would be available this year, the 75th anniversary of Supermanís debut.

When asked if he already had a plate, he smiled broadly.

"Well, letís just say I would not be surprised if my plate was waiting for me back at the office," he said. "I ordered mine a long time ago."