I spent yesterday at New York Comic Con, having a blast and running myself ragged and being inspired by participatory creative fandom and, yes, feeling guilty for not writing all day. I also went dressed as Clark Kent (Julia as Lois), so throughout my creative procrastination I had Clark/Supes and his own epic-scale multitasking—what else is an alter-ego, really—on the mind.
I’m a lifelong Superman fan/apologist, which means among other things that I’m a sucker for any even halfway articulate piece of rhetoric about him being cool. (Remember that one speech in Kill Bill: Volume 2? Guys? Remember? You do if you knew me in the mid-2000s, that’s for sure.) And this is still the fall/winter of draft-finishing, so I’m still even more on the lookout than usual for inspirational examples of productivity and work ethic. All of which is to say: I’m suddenly thinking of Superman as maybe a patron saint of successfully balancing a day job and a creative side hustle.
This is coming more than a little from Grant Morrison’s fascinating assessment of Supes, which I’ll quote here mostly for my own reference:
In the end, I saw Superman not as a superhero or even a science fiction character, but as a story of Everyman. We’re all Superman in our own adventures. We have our own Fortresses of Solitude we retreat to, with our own special collections of valued stuff, our own super-pets, our own “Bottle Cities” that we feel guilty for neglecting. We have our own peers and rivals and bizarre emotional or moral tangles to deal with.
I felt I’d really grasped the concept when I saw him as Everyman, or rather as the dreamself of Everyman. That “S” is the radiant emblem of divinity we reveal when we rip off our stuffy shirts, our social masks, our neuroses, our constructed selves, and become who we truly are.
Batman is obviously much cooler, but that’s because he’s a very energetic and adolescent fantasy character: a handsome billionaire playboy in black leather with a butler at this beck and call, better cars and gadgetry than James Bond, a horde of fetish femme fatales baying around his heels and no boss. That guy’s Superman day and night.
Superman grew up baling hay on a farm. He goes to work, for a boss, in an office. He pines after a hard-working gal. Only when he tears off his shirt does that heroic, ideal inner self come to life. That’s actually a much more adult fantasy than the one Batman’s peddling [...] He’s Everyman operating on a sci-fi Paul Bunyan scale.
This interview is interesting in all kinds of ways, most of which don't have much overtly to do with creative inspiration. But if you squint, you can come away with the thought that Superman makes time for both a union job and a passion project, and that he does them both well—um, depending what you think of Clark's reporting. If you want to—if you need it; if, say, you're trying to homestretch a novel—you can look to him as an icon of productivity and Having It All through hard work. I need all the help I can get over the next few months, so heck, add Supes to the motivational grab bag.