Superman-Tim magazines, membership cards, stamps and pins are highly sort after items amongst fans and collectors. But what was the Superman-Tim joint venture all about?
The Superman-Tim Club existed in the USA from 1942 to 1950. It was a franchise for local independent clothing stores that sold clothing for boys. Superman-Tim was a company in New York City that operated under a license from National Comics (later renamed DC Comics) to publish a monthly newsletter, copies of which were provided to department stores and independent retailers. Those stores would then mail monthly Superman-Tim newsletters to their local Superman-Tim Club members.
Boys would be enrolled in the Club and receive the monthly Superman-Tim newsletter, which included stories, puzzles, jokes, and contests, all for the purpose of making clothes shopping more tolerable for boys (and less challenging for parents and merchants).
Superman-Tim is a boys’ clothing catalog, activity book, and comic book all rolled into one, featuring Superman illustrations throughout. All issues are 16 pages unless a Superman story is inserted (bringing page count to 24 or 36 pages). Every issue encourages boys to not be a “Woo-Shoo” – a boy who reads “Superman-Tim” but doesn’t buy clothes from the Superman-Tim Store.
Each issue of Superman-Tim reflected seasonal activities and monthly holidays. Superman-Tim was in fact a rare example of a Superman publication that was not published by National Comics.
So who was Tim?
Tim was a comic mascot created by Herman “Kay” Kamen, who would go on to become a marketing executive for the Walt Disney Company. A typical all-American boy, Tim was not only a brilliant inventor, he could travel through time using his “Whirlaway Watch.” Initially licensed to boys clothing retailers in August 1922, Tim and his dog Pup first appeared at Woolf Brothers locations in Kansas, and would go on to be featured in department stores across the USA.
After the success of Macy’s “Superman Day” and other department store tie-ins, Superman and Tim would join forces to promote boys clothing through the Superman-Tim Club starting in July 1942. The Superman-Tim logo was designed by Ira Schnapp.
Every member received an official membership card, a button pin, and a monthly subscription for the Superman-Tim magazine. The first issue has a cover date of August 1942.
The Superman-Tim booklets were printed in black with a one-color overlay, and ranged in size from 5 3/8″ x 8 1/4″ to 6″ x 9″. Superman-Tim members received an official membership card which contained the non-alphabetical secret code and its translation, and enabled the member to pick up (in person only at the sponsoring store) the appropriare four-color stamp of Superman which was to be pasted into the official booklet each month.
The first issue of Superman-Tim was issued about four years after Superman’s debut in ACTION COMICS #1, and it was very clear that the purpose of Superman-Tim was not to compete with the regular comic books, but rather to complement them.
The Superman-Tim publications were published for almost five years before entering their second stage, which is clearly the most desirable stage from the point of view of collectors. This second stage began somewhere between September and November 1946, and lasted until December of 1947. The Superman-Tims issued during this time are particularly desirable because they featured actual comic strip stories of Superman and Tim together.
Originally 16 pages each (the last few were only 8-pagers) the stories are clearly from the Siegel and Shuster studios, as are most, if not all, of the illustrations.
The actual comic-strip adventures of Tim and Superman are of two types. The first, which lasted from 1946 until August of 1947 follow the adventures of Tim as he uses the “Whirlaway Watch” that he and Superman invented to travel to exciting lands in the past. This series of adventures, each of which are 16 pages long, take Tim to such exotic locales as Ancient Rome and Egypt, Bagdad of the Arabian Nights, Peru in 1492, Arizona in 1447, and the Barbary Coast in 1650. Although the stories focused on Tim, Superman was a necessary plot element.
The second type of comic-strip story that appeared in Superman-Tim took place in 1947 and featured Tim’s attempted rescue of an American pilot trapped on “The Floating Island”. Tim sets off to rescue the trapped pilot in the September 1947 issue, and he remained on the floating fantasy island until the Superman-Tim comic strip’s demise, which occurred in December of 1947. Readers were advised to be watchful for the next instalment of the story which was to be printed in the January 1948 issue, but it was never published.
Superman-Tim entered its final phase in January 1948 and continued for about two more years.
The Superman-Tim Club issued eight different sets of twelve collectible “Poster Stamps,” with a new stamp available to members every month. The first series of twelve stamps were issued starting in September 1942, with the final set ending in September 1950.
Redbacks were coupons issued by the Tim Store starting in 1932. The first Superman Redbacks were first released in 1944, and could be redeemed at participating retailers. These coupons were issued in denominations of 1, 5, and 10. One Redback was equivalent to one cent.
In its entirety, the Superman-Tim joint venture ran from 1942 to 1950.