Back for the second part of mine and my wife Nicki’s day-trip up to Metropolis, IL for the 40th Anniversary of Superman Celebration. This time I’m focusing on some of the signs of Metropolis we saw. The one above is the big welcome sign that greets you as you enter town on US 45/5th St. from I-24. It’s located next to the Big John’s grocery store¬†and Fort Massac State Park.

 

But before we got to that sign, we had to cross the Ohio River on I-24 from Paducah, KY. The towns are just a few minutes away from each other.

If you ever get to Metropolis, you might want to stop and explore downtown Paducah. We stayed there last year at one of the newer hotels off of I-24 and had a great time.

They’ve got a lot to do and explore, and we really enjoyed their arts district and river walk’s murals. Metropolis has several murals around town, too.

Although I must say my favorite sign/sight in Paducah was this very dapper catfish outside of the Captain D’s.

If you come into town from the other direction on N US-45 Rd./W 10th St. you may see this sign- or maybe an even newer one.

I saw someone post a different sign online, so this one may have been replaced. Which is good, considering it had looked a bit worse for wear before being replaced a few years ago with it’s missing “O”.¬†Normally this would be my way in, but we had decided to drive through Cairo, IL (pronounced ‚ÄúCare-O‚ÄĚ) and Paducah this trip. I couldn’t remember which exit I normally take and knew how to get to Metropolis through it. It’s really sad how the whole town seems to be falling in on itself. Parts of town seem to be a ghost town, and many buildings have been consumed by vines and other overgrowth.

  

Since we took 45/5th Street in off of 24, we drove by a row of motels, a few fields, a car dealership or two, some fast food places, Fort Massac State Park, the big welcome sign, Big John’s, and then into downtown. As you drive around town you may see many streets with new names such as “Truth“, “Justice“, “American Way“, and even “Lois Lane“.

The Metropolis Planet newspaper is located on 5th just before Ferry Street. It’s the town’s local newspaper and unlike its namesake The Daily Planet¬†it only publishes weekly. If you visit it make sure to ask for Clark, Lois, and Jimmy’s business cards. ūüėČ

Just up the street from The Planet as you pass Ferry Street sits the Massac Theatre. It opened in 1938 (the year Superman was first published), closed as a theatre¬†around¬†1977, briefly used for WRIK radio, awarded to the city of Metropolis after a long¬†imminent domain court battle, was placed on the city’s condemned properties list in 2009– when the¬†Save the Massac committee was formed to save this historic building. It has since been cleaned out, had a new roof installed, and several fund raisers to help with the many other needed repairs and restoration.
  
I love old theaters and fell in love with The Massac’s architecture and charm- even though all the years of neglect were showing. I donated some art prints to help raise money for the Massac, and other art and collectibles for their annual charity auction. You can find out more about the Massac Theatre and how to donate at SaveTheMassac.com.

Across the street we saw one of the first Superman \S/ shields we would encounter that day. It was in front of Mayor Billy McDaniel’s office.

  

These were a fun addition to the celebration, and were up and down Market Street from the Superman Statue to the Noel Neill/Lois Lane statue on either side of the street in both directions.

Each shield had a description and the year of when it first appeared. I saw lots of people stopping, reading, and taking pics. I didn’t take a shot of each, but did check out many as we walked.

Before we headed up Market Street to see the midway parts of the Celebration we stopped by the Metropolis Chamber Of Commerce (right next to the giant 15′ Superman statue)- I had a nice surprise waiting for me inside. On the back of the 2018 Superman Celebration program guide was a pic of me and my cat Lex! It was from the day I adopted him in Metropolis- 3 years ago! (Front cover design by artist John Pinto.)

There are lots of signed posters and photos inside the Chamber of Commerce’s gift shop area.

 

To the right of the phone booth at the back of the main room is a picture of Joshua Boultinghouse– the official Superman of Metropolis. This particular one is not of him as Superman, but as a kid visiting Metropolis! Josh has definitely been working out- there’s no padding under the suit! He’s a great guy and stays in character all Celebration long.

 

Just above the phone booth is the 2005 poster on the left (designed by Steve Stanley) which has me listed as an artist guest for the first time in Metropolis. The 2013 red one on the rightt I designed (with José Luis García-López control art).

The art was used for merchandise like tees, programs, and posters that year. The staff shirts were blue, and the ones sold to the public were red. I almost wore my blue one, but decided not to because I’d be stopped every ten feet to answer questions! Best to go incognito when not working.

 

I also designed the previous year’s program and t-shirts. I think I have a coffee mug with this art on it, too. Again,¬†Garc√≠a-L√≥pez¬†line art with my layout design and colors. I hope that the Superman Celebration can get him to Metropolis as a guest someday. He’s probably #1 on my comics creators list that I’d like to meet.

Out on Market Street there was a huge Margot Kidder banner for fans to sign and leave messages. She passed away just shortly before this year’s Superman Celebration. She had been a guest three times before, including last year.

As we continued up the street, we saw an “Artist Alley” sign which pointed to the new Artist Alley location in the former Bantera Bank location. It’s next to the Lois Lane statue at 8th and Market.

We heard a familiar voice from the tent just ahead, so we stopped to watch fellow Memphians Muley The Mule & Friends perform for a few minutes. Muley has emceed the kids costume contest for several years now.

Once inside the Artists Alley area, we immediately noticed the A/C was not working. When it’s hotter inside than outside in Metropolis- that’s HOT! We said hi to our friends Mama Wanda and Papa Cliff (the parents of Karla and Lisa who are the co-chairs of the Celebration). They always volunteer to help out with Artists Alley. The first celeb guest we met was Aaron Smolinski who played toddler Kal-El in “Superman: The Movie“. He’s also appeared in “Superman III” and “Man of Steel“. I heard his interview on¬†Comic Book Central with Joe Stuber and he mentioned that director¬†Richard Donner got him to come out of the crashed spaceship by offering him some Juicy Fruit gum! I knew he had recently had a birthday so I presented him with a big pack of Juicy Fruit. He laughed and asked me if he had to get naked! I told him no, but heard that over the weekend he actually did appear in just the red cape wrapped around him.

 

I had already met some of the other guests, and since they were all about to go on lunch break we decided to go to the next room and meet some of the artists and writers there. We bought some prints from John Pinto, and bought some plush Super-Pets from Art Baltazar.

Art was nice enough to draw a couple sketches for us- an Ace The Bat-Hound for me, and a Streaky The Cat for Nicki…AW YEAH!

 

Nicki was okay with me bringing home the plush pets and sketches this trip to Metropolis, but there is a standing rule that I can’t bring home any more actual pets!

We headed back down the street to catch the Q&A with Joe Stuber and SyFy’s Krypton TV show stars Blake Ritson/Braniac and Shaun Sipos/Adam Strange under the main tent (you can see my pics from that here and listen to it here).

Something I hadn’t seen before was someone on a panel doing sign language. Kudos to the Superman Celebration and sign interpreter Abby Morrissey for providing this service for the attendees. I know of a few attendees with hearing difficulty or are completely deaf. Would love to see more events/conventions do this as well.

Next to the tent is the above sign on the side of the Super Museum. This is where they usually take pics of the costume contest winners.

 

After the Krypton Q&A there was a storm blowing in so we decided to take some shelter and do lunch at Fat Edd’s Roadhouse. We had parked our car across the street from it so we dropped off some of the items we had picked up at Artists Alley to the trunk. While placing our order at the front counter, I saw a sign/can for donations to help with spaying/neutering local Metropolis cats. I’d seen a couple living in the abandoned Massac Theatre a few years ago, and my cat Lex was abandoned at the carnival in Metropolis during the 2015 Superman Celebration. I had to drop a few bucks in the can to help.

 

We ordered a couple burgers, fries, and some Kryptonite drinks. My friend Kevin L. Williams (Muley) called as we were sitting down so he came down to join us. Then a few minutes later our friend Eddy Zeno (writer of “Curt Swan: My Life In Comics“) and his girlfriend joined us a few minutes later as well. Then the thunderstorm joined us! Wow, we timed getting indoors just right.

The food, drink, and company was great. The burgers were HUGE 1/2 pound patties, and the Kryptonite drinks were very refreshing- especially in the Metropolis heat. May have to try one of the other drinks they offer- the Mr. Freeze sounded interesting…

We ran into Joe Stuber and his wife going to Fat Edd’s as we were leaving it. I heard later that weekend they both got to have dinner with Josh and original TV Superboy John Haymes Newton. I hate I didn’t get a chance to meet John while we were there. If you haven’t seen the animated shorts by Robb Pratt you need to watch them. Met Robb a few years ago when he was in Metropolis and he’s done¬†Superman Classic, Bizarro Classic, and Flash Gordon Classic¬†cartoons that John and his wife Jennifer provide voice-work for. They are AMAZING! I really wish we could get a full length animated movies like these. Would love to see Robb try his hand at a Rocketeer animated one, too.

  

After lunch we talked a bit more to Kevin and then walked back up to Market Street. We did some shopping at the “Super-Con” which is where one of the previous Artists Alley was back when I set up there. It was pretty cramped and hot so we didn’t stay very long. Nicki left to go wait outside and get a bit of air while I made a couple small purchases. We were still a bit full from lunch, but as we headed back down Market towards the statue and main tent we saw a sign for¬†Sissy’s: A Sweet Shoppe.¬†It was new and looked interesting so we¬†decided to stop and check it out.

They had a nice sidewalk patio outside, a mural on the outside of the building, and inside the place looked and smelled amazing! Was great to see a new business like this on Market Street, and the bay next door fixed up and ready to be rented instead of boarded up. There have been so many empty storefronts over the years. We sat down and tried some ice cream- it really hit the spot! We felt like we were cheating on our local Area 51 Ice Cream back home a bit. Look forward to going back and checking out their coffee and other deserts.

 

Most people have their picture made with the giant Superman statue, and now the Lois Lane one, but I also like to visit the even bigger Big John¬†statue and have my pic taken with it as well while I’m in town. Not sure exactly how big the big guy is, but definitely over 15 feet tall!

It was 8pm before we knew it and we had a 3hr or so trip back home ahead of us, so we did some quick last minute shopping at the Chamber, took a few more pics on our way out of town, and then hit the road.

Normally I have a footlong corndog and a lemonade shake-up while I’m at the Superman Celebration- it’s tradition. We were so full from the burgers, fires, and ice cream that I passed on them this year. I would have been miserably full on the ride back home.

One last thing- not really a sign, but one of the coolest things about Metropolis is that the local police have Superman on their patches and squad cars! I’ll show you that and more Super-vehicles¬†and some cosplay in my next blog entry…

Stay \S/uper!

Lin

 

\S/UPER-LINKS:

Superman Celebration

Metropolis, IL Tourism

Metropolis Chamber Of Commerce

Comic Book Central Podcast

The Indy Cast

SyFy’s Krypton TV show

Blake Ritson on Twitter

Shaun Sipos on Twitter

Aaron Smolinski on Twitter

John Pinto

Art Baltazar

Muley The Mule & Friends

Save The Massac Theatre

Fat Edd’s Roadhouse

Big John Grocery Store

Super Museum

Sissy’s: A Sweet Shoppe

Area 51 Ice Cream

Superman Classic

Bizarro Classic

Flash Gordon Classic

HGWT comic strips

HGWT archives page

Curt Swan: My Life In Comics

 

Additional photos by Nicki Workman and Jason Rawley.