1940 Superman Coloring Book by Saalfield

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Just picked up this very early Superman coloring book published by Saalfield in 1940… just two years after the introduction of Superman in Action Comics #1, and one year after Superman #1, so it’s one of the very first if not the first Superman coloring book. Saalfield was once one of the largest children’s book publishers in the world, and they produced a number of licensed products including coloring books and puzzles.

At 15-1/4″ high by 11″ wide, this Superman color book is larger than a treasury edition sized comic book. It features a full color cardstock cover with one of the early Superman logos and great Art Deco style lettering at the bottom. The interiors are printed in black on cheap construction paper and there are 48 pages to color. The original owner, who received this for Christmas in 1941 based on the note written in pencil on the inside cover, got the first few pages started for me, but the rest are still uncolored. Unlike later coloring books, this one has no unifying story; it’s just pinups of Superman with a single sentence caption. Some of the art appears to be by Joe Shuster, but I am by no means a comic art expert.

Here are some of my favorite pages from this coloring book…

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3 thoughts on “1940 Superman Coloring Book by Saalfield

  1. Wow, what a great piece! Truly a piece of Superman history.

    If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say someone was emulating Shuster, maybe one of his studio artists, although he may have drawn the Superman faces, as I understand he did for some time, no matter who drew the rest of the story.

    I especially love the one with the kid: “Stay outdoors as much as possible”. Superman was combating childhood obesity 70 years ago!!!

    Chris

  2. I kind of thought it might have been studio artists working on this.

    They’re all interesting drawings, but I really like the one where he’s standing on one foot on top of a flagpole, the one where he’s swinging a kangaroo around by the foot, and the nod to the Hindenberg crash, which took place just three years before this was published.

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