A Superman Homepage Retrospective by Neal Bailey

As part of our ongoing celebrations marking the Superman Homepage’s 30th year online, here is the first of a number of planned retrospectives from staff members who have been part of that journey. It’s fitting that the first of these is by one of our longest serving contributors, Neal Bailey.

A Superman Homepage Retrospective by Neal Bailey

I’ve been working with Steve Younis for twenty-four of the thirty years the Superman Homepage has existed, since just after he took over for Andrew. It’s hard to believe that, saying it out loud. But it’s true. We’re all old now.

I’ve been less active writing here for the last decade, but I’m still around. I doubt I’ll ever leave, much to the chagrin of some people who hate my guts over, I dunno, an opinion about Superman. That’s the internet for you.

Most of the reason I stopped writing so much wasn’t that (though it was a factor), so much as that after a thousand articles, there wasn’t that much to say about Superman any more. Yet it feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Strange, that. Then again, knowing the character, entirely apt.

I write novels and comics now. That takes up most of my time. Why lie? All of my time. All of it. But for ten years there, I did quite an awful lot of work here. It was my joy to work with a ton of fantastic people. Steve. Michael Bailey. Barry Freiman, rest his soul. Julian Finn. Scotty Vinnacombe. Even that Rebecca Cyrus, though she didn’t last too long. Funny gal, that. I hope she’s all right, wherever she is. Probably off watching the 90210 remake or something.

I specialized in reviews and editorial. The Smallville reviews were the thing that everyone remembers (to this day I get letters about minor quibbled over reviews I wrote fifteen years ago), but I think the most fun I ever had was always the gonzo journalism reports on strange comic happenings. I travelled all over the US spreading the word about the Superman Homepage at con table after con table, met a whole bunch of folks, and had a fantastic time. It’s awesome to get to know the people working on the comics you love, for the most part. Not always, but most of the time.

Famously, Paul Levitz, not knowing me from Adam, once shook his fist and yelled at me suggesting he’d shut this site down when he saw the DC lawyer-approved business cards. That was fifteen years ago. I think we’ll be okay. He put the fear of God in twenty-five-year-old me that I was going to destroy an institution for promoting him and helping his company make money. Fortunately, I’m no longer working in comics, so it’s fine if I say thanks again, Paul! Way to go, you!

I once got stuffed in a trunk with Bill Willingham at the Calgary con. He was a nice guy.

There’s a whole bunch of others (I got to interact in some fashion with almost every creator on Superman from 2000-2010 in some capacity, which was a privilege), but I don’t want to tell too many tales out of school.

To the point, I got to meet a plethora of comic book writers, some kind, some not so kind. It was quite wild.

Hell hath no fury like a writer with a fragile ego who feels criticized (sometimes even while you’re doing everything to prop up their book that isn’t doing well—that happened a lot). And there is also no greater generosity of spirit than from a creator who understands the relationship between fan sites and success. I am proud to say that I pulled no punches even when they were friends, and that I never spiked a thing I didn’t genuinely dislike. There’s a lot of quid pro quo in comics journalism. It would have been easy to play that game. I’m glad I didn’t.

Usually folks were nice as can be. I could name the folks who were mean, but then, that wouldn’t be nice of me. The good thing is, most people already get a pretty good idea of which creators are mean, and which are kind. You’d be surprised, though, which ones are nice on the surface, and mean underneath.

My favorite Superman Homepage memory is apocryphal, but I choose to believe it’s true.

In 2008, I got to meet Steve in person for the first time and spend almost a week at the Metropolis Superman Celebration. It was surreal, to be recognized in person by others for the first time, to make so many friends so quickly. Friends I still talk with to this day.

Allison Mack was there. I got to bodyguard for her a little bit while she signed. That was surreal. I later did a video of getting hauled away on video by Superman for stalking her. Could be worse. If it had been Annette O’Toole I might still be in jail, such was my obsession.

Neal getting arrested

That’s not the memory. But that’s still all great.

The memory in question is when I got a photo op for the Homepage with the town Superman, played by Josh Boultinghouse, a man who could easily crush my head with his palms. A kind soul, and a gentleman, he would always stand for a picture upon request.

So we came up with this idea. Why not do a picture where I’m tugging on Superman’s cape?

You’re not supposed to do that, see, because he’s Superman. But anyone who read anything I ever did on here knows that’s not my jam. Every article I ever wrote screamed tug on that cape.

So he indulged me, kindly, and it’s a great picture. Josh, the absolute picture of Chris Reeve, looking back and glaring at me. Me with this smug grin on my face.

Don't Tug on Superman's Cape

It was only after, when I was telling him thanks, that someone clued me in that the cape was an actual Reeve cape on loan.

Is that true? I don’t know. I don’t care. That’s part of the joy of it.

It certainly felt like a darn good cape. Like it might have been in a movie. Look at that thing.

Nobody tell me if they know, please.

I remember first finding this site, before Steve even took over, back in 1996.

That’s right, the first time I saw this site, it was probably through Ask Jeeves or one of his rudimentary analogues. Even then, it was the best Superman site. The reviews, the Who’s Who I would later rewrite, way back when Wikipedia wasn’t a thing. The fan interaction. The genuine excitement for the Electric Blue Superman, back when even people who hated a thing were less about salting the earth and more about “This too shall pass.”

I miss some things from that time. Not much. But that.

I was twenty when I started working for the site. Now I’m forty-four.

I remember the feeling of writing Steve thinking that I had no shot. I was just starting to write seriously. In the middle of my second novel. I’m now writing my twentieth.

Steve gave me a shot. He gave me a lot of lead on the leash. To this day he’s the best editor I’ve ever worked with, because he knew when to rein in and when to let loose. He’s a solid dude, and the nicest guy I know.

May the site go for thirty more years, at least. Steve, healthy dude that he is, stands a good chance of being here then, too. I won’t be, I don’t think. I tug on Superman’s cape too much. But man. What a ride, huh?


Neal and Steve
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John Barker
John Barker
January 29, 2024 6:35 am

It’s great seeing Neal back on the site again. I’ve been visiting the Superman Homepage since the late 90’s. I think right around the transition time to Steve. My go-to site was here and Kryptonsite for all things Smallville. But Superman Homepage is on my daily internet reading. I rarely miss a day. Its the first site I read in the morning. It’s how I first learned of the Superman Celebration. My first visit in 2006 and my second visit just last year in 2023. I really wanted to go in 2008 to meet Steve in person but couldn’t swing… Read more »