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Auction raises cash for Superman's birthplace

An online auction hopes raise money to restore the run-down Ohio home where the idea for the Superman character was first conceived.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An online auction began Tuesday to raise money to restore the run-down house where the idea for the Superman comic book character was conceived.

Two high school boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, hatched the idea of the man who could bend steel with his bare hands in 1933. Hattie and Jefferson Gray have owned the home and lived there for more than two decades, tolerating unexpected visits by Superman fans.

Auction organizers hope the sale will raise at least $50,000 to fix the roof, replace rotting wood siding and repaint the house, with anything left over going toward upkeep and future repairs.

Among the items to be auctioned during September will be a T-shirt signed by Siegel, a walk-on role on television's "Heroes," and original art by Jim Lee, Murphy Anderson, George Perez, Tim Sale and others. Lee's drawing offer drew a $710 bid on Tuesday.

The Cleveland-based Siegel and Shuster Society and novelist Brad Meltzer's charity — Ordinary People Change the World — will run the four weeklong auctions of about 12 items at a time.

The Grays recently agreed to give the Siegel and Shuster Society first rights to buy the house at fair market value when they decide to sell it.

Richard Pace, chairman of the society, said it's important the old Siegel home be preserved.

"It's also great to see that we're finally recognizing the creativity of Siegel and Shuster and what they did to create Superman," he said. "We must save the house for future generations so people can take their kids to see it and be inspired to create something on their own."

Hattie Gray said she's excited about the start of the auction and what it will mean for her house. She also gets a big kick out of all the attention the home has received.

Meltzer's novel, "The Book of Lies," partially takes place at the Siegel house. Over the past several weeks, Tom Batiuk's "Funky Winkerbean" comic strip has been set in the house, with a "Superman" writer visiting the home for inspiration.