Ace Backwords: cub reporter

The first comic book I ever bought was a Superman comic book, probably around 1962, age 6, it cost 10 cents. . . And of course I dug Superman with his superpowers and his macho manly red underwear and blue tights and dashing red cape. . . But I was also enamored with the Clark Kent side, too, working as a reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper — “that major metropolitan daily.” And Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen, who was a “cub reporter” at the Daily Planet. And Superman’s girlfriend, Lois Lane — who was always trying to beat Clark Kent for the “scoop” and cut his hair with scissors to prove he was Superman, she was always suspicious about Clark’s true identity (as a sharp investigative reporter Lois Lane always suspected that the glasses Clark Kent wore didn’t conceal his true identity, but she could never quite prove it, so she never got an exclusive on the front page of the Planet). And Perry White, the gruff but loveable managing editor of the Daily Planet (“Don’t call me Chief!”).

As a kid I didn’t want to grow up to be Superman. That didn’t seem like a realistic goal (for one thing I wasn’t born on planet Krypton). But I definitely wanted to grow up to be a reporter and a writer, like Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane. That seemed like a great job. You always rushed off to wherever the action was. The latest excitement. And then you got to write about it and explain what happened to other people.

For years I carried this beat-up old fake press pass in my wallet. And I used to sneak backstage and interview people for the various publications I wrote for. And for awhile I even worked for the Oakland Tribune newspaper. A “major metropolitan daily.” In an office on the 9th floor of the Tribune building in downtown Oakland (not quite Metropolis, but close). Though in truth I was just a lowly phone salesman selling subscriptions to the newspaper for minimum wage (“Buy the first month and get the second month absolutely free!!”). But I was hoping I could get my foot in the door and get a job as a “cub reporter” and work my way up to the top of the newspaper profession.

But I did end up as a writer in the end, so what the hell.

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