Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy
Superman was to meet
President Kennedy for a special assignment to encourage America's
youth to join President Kennedy's "Presidential Fitness Progam" in
Superman #168, but Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963
caused DC to cancel the comic story. Months later President
Johnson's administration contacted DC Comics asking that the story
||The story finally saw print in issue
#170 as the lead story, however DC decided that the actual
cover would not feature the President, since the country was
still in mourning.
Curt Swan had drawn the story, but after DC's
cancellation, it was reported that he gave the art to
Jacqueline Kennedy. For more articles, posters, and
The new art was then drawn by artist
Al Plastino. Recently, the JFK Museum announced Plastino's
art work would be on display in 2014.
Rare JFK Superman Comic Book
“Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy” at JFK Library
-- Opening March 20th and on display through June 30th 2014 --
Boston, MA – The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
announced that it has unveiled a special new display of rare
Superman artwork created by legendary comic book artist Al Plastino
featuring President John F. Kennedy. The story, told in ten
hand-drawn story boards, was written in collaboration with the
Kennedy White House in an effort to promote the President’s
initiative encouraging physical fitness. The never-before-displayed
original artwork will be shown in the Library’s museum through June
In 1963, the Kennedy White House launched a highly innovative
marketing effort in collaboration with DC Comics (then called
National Periodical Publications), the publisher of Superman, to
create a story that would promote the President’s Council on
Physical Fitness. A hallmark of the Kennedy Administration, the
Council established physical fitness curriculum for the country and
initiated a national publicity campaign on the topic. In “Superman’s
Mission for President Kennedy” JFK calls upon Superman to help
inspire the nation to exercise, eat better, and get stronger.
"The alliance between the Kennedy
White House and DC Comics designed to promote President Kennedy’s
physical fitness initiative demonstrates how innovative the
administration was in communicating and advancing key initiatives,"
said Tom Putnam, Director of the Presidential Library. “Thanks to
the Superman artist, Al Plastino, and the generous donation of DC
Comics, we are pleased that this artwork will be available for the
public to view for the very first time.”
The Superman piece was in production when President Kennedy was
assassinated in November 1963, and the project was set aside. Eight
months later, with the encouragement of President Lyndon Johnson,
the story was published as a special tribute to President Kennedy.
The final page of the published version states that the story’s
original artwork would be donated to the Kennedy Library, which was
then in the planning stages.
Al Plastino, who drew Superman for 20 years, took special pride in
his drawings for this story. In late 2013, nearly a half a century
later, when the artist learned that his original artwork was slated
for auction, his family contacted the Kennedy Library to see if it
had any record of the material ever being part of its holdings. A
thorough search showed no evidence that the artwork had ever been
offered to the Library or was ever a part of its collections.
In December 2013, just a month after Mr. Plastino passed away, DC
Comics acquired the original drawings and offered them to the
Kennedy Library, where they have become part of the permanent
Upon securing the artwork, DC Comics issued a statement saying, “As
a tribute to honor him and preserve his artistic legacy, DC
Entertainment is pleased to confirm that we have acquired the art
and will be donating it to the JFK Library, fulfilling Plastino's
longtime hope for the story, which he often pointed to as one of his
most important artistic contributions.”
The ten story boards for “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy”
are in the original black and white; color was added to them prior
left, draws Superman for a group of children.
Credit: The Plastino Family. Image was given to us as part of the
press package from www.jfklibrary.org to share with our readers.
Below are a couple of videos
featuring President Kennedy remarking on the fitness goals of his
President John F. Kennedy's
remarks on the Youth Fitness Program in the State Department
Auditorium in Washington, D.C. on July 19, 1961.
Credit: John F. Kennedy
Presidential Library and Museum
President Kennedy's public service
announcement promoting physical fitness.
Credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
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Message from the President from
President Kennedy’s official U.S. Physical Fitness program, prepared
by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.
Credit: Printed Materials Collection/John F. Kennedy Presidential
Library and Museum
One last thing, as part of the President's fitness program was this
hilarious song, "Chicken Fat".
“Chicken Fat”, also known as “The Youth Fitness
Song”, composed for President Kennedy’s Physical Fitness Program.
Recordings of this song were sent to radio stations/school districts
throughout the United States to accompany the official U.S. Physical
Fitness program of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness
Credit: Meredith Wilson/Robert Preston/Bernie Green/JFK Library