Our friend, Seth Kushner, stops by with his own contribution to the 13th Dimension Super-Star Holiday Special:
I had turned 5 in 1978, just a few weeks before Hanukkah. Like a most kids, I wanted presents for the holiday, but there was nothing I wanted more that holiday season than to see “Superman: The Movie.”
It wasn’t the first night of Hanukkah, when a kid might get a big present (like a Death Star play set). It was one of the other seven nights, when a kid might get socks. But, this was better than socks. This was Christopher Reeve in Richard Donner’s original and iconic “Superman.”
I don’t remember all that much from the actual event. I remember images mostly. Fractured childhood memories and a hero in a cape. I remember bundling up on a cold, dark December evening, with my red cape tucked into my coat, to go with my dad to the Kingsway Theater, on nearby Kings Highway in Midwood, Brooklyn. I don’t know if it was the opening night, but I remember it was crowded. More crowded than I’d ever seen a movie theater since up until that point I’d only been on weekend afternoons. It didn’t feel like simply “catching a movie.” This was a happening. I remember holding my dad’s hand as we pushed through the throngs of people in the lobby and into the theater to find our seats.
I was a kid and the people sitting in front of me were adults and I remember having to look through their heads in order to see the screen. I must have complained to my dad, because I know at some point those big people’s heads vanish from my memory, so he must have sat me on his lap. My dad had grown up on Superman, as I had, so I can only assume he was as excited to see the movie as I was.
From that very first screening of a movie I’ve seen countless time since, I mostly remember those swooping sci-fi-looking opening credits shown over a bombastic John Williams theme (which my dad and I hummed all the way home), the coldness of Krypton, the warmth of Smallville, the ’70s grittiness of my city standing in for Metropolis and Superman himself, as real as life, existing on a level far above my familiar versions from the comics, Super Friends cartoon and ’50s TV series reruns.
Along with images, I remember feelings. I remember feeling uplifted and inspired by “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?” I remember feeling frightened by Superman’s scream of despair when Lois died in the dirt-filled car (until Supes moves time backward). I remember feeling reassured and safe by “A friend.” But, most of all, I remember Hanukkah 1978 at the movies with my dad.
And, it was…Super.
Seth Kushner is an award-winning photographer and writer, whose published books include “Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics,” (2012, co-authored with Christopher Irving); “The Brooklynites” (2007, co-authored with Anthony LaSala) and the recently released, self-published fumetti anthology Force Field Fotocomix Vol. 01 and his semi-autobio comic Schmuck Comix #1. Seth’s comics work can be seen at TripCity.net and for more info, visit SethKushner.com.