Dale Suderman, aka Super “Man” was an orphan raised by Darrel and Edna Suderman in a farm community north of Wichita. His super powers scared his mother to death and he was sent to an orphanage, where his basketball skills emerged. Eventually he starred on a team owned by a malevolent Lex Luther.
Dale Suderman disappeared from the basketball arena to once again find love and wisdom among the simple folks in his hometown in Kansas and announces he is leaving the world stage. As the story ends, he is enrolling in a journalism class taught by Lois Lane using a new alias, “Clark Kent.”
Well, at least this is how the comic book, Superman Inc., published in 1999, presented the yarn in 64 pages of vividly colored cartoons. How do I know this?
About 47 percent of computer literate Americans “auto-Google”—they check out their own name on the Internet.
(I suspect the habit is more widespread than reported, since many folks are not self-disclosing about their own private vices.)
I admit to auto-Googling. Today I get 285 hits for “Dale Suderman.” There is a marathon runner in Texas and a conservationist in British Columbia using my name. My own history of scribbling for magazines, the Free Press and giving speeches has more than a hundred “hits.” But the majority of the references for “Dale Suderman” are for this prequel story about the legend of Superman.
After discovering this coincidence a few years ago, I paid $6.95 at a comic book store for a copy of Superman Inc., had a cup of coffee at a sidewalk cafe and read the yarn. It was a creepy experience. I really was raised in a small town in Kansas north of Wichita—although not an orphan, so far as I know.
My parents really were Dan and Edna Suderman, not Darrel and Edna Suderman. As a child I did not scare my mother to death with my superhuman powers. In fact, my physical clumsiness and constant daydreaming was a cause for concern by my real-life parents.
Nor did I move on the world stage as a sports superstar. But, like the cartoon hero, I have, at times, returned to Kansas to find wisdom and a center for myself.
And journalism has fascinated me for decades—even though there is no academic program to blame for my scribbling.
To paraphrase the rap song, “It’s hard out there for a superhero.” I showed the comic book to friends who accused me of having it printed as a vain tribute to myself. “Sorry, I will admit to being a narcissist, but I don’t have the money to pay for a four-color graphic tribute to myself.”
I contacted an authority on the Superman saga and pointed out the coincidences in the story. He wrote back laconically, “Yup, it is strange,” and cut off contact.
But sometimes, in my Walter Mitty moments, I daydream that maybe I really am a superhero now so cleverly disguised as a pudgy old man that I have forgotten my true identity.
“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Suderman.”
You can contact the writer at Dale.Suderman@gmail.com.