Marc Tyler Nobleman used to think he'd grow up to be a superhero. After all, his last name sounded like one. Instead, the Connecticut-based cartoonist wrote Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, a book about the two Clevelanders who invented the world's greatest superhero. "It's hard to believe that there's never been a stand-alone biography about [Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster]," says Nobleman, who's in town this week for a series of events. "I've been a Superman fan since I saw the Christopher Reeve movie, but I found some things about Siegel and Schuster that totally startled me."
For starters, the high-school buds were total nerds. The book portrays Siegel as a guy who'd rather read about Tarzan and Flash Gordon than hang out with his classmates; Schuster is a "mousy" artist who drew sci-fi characters. "I was really surprised to find that they were outsiders," says Nobleman. "They had trouble making friends and talking to girls. They were not good at sports or in school. They were smart guys, but they were more creative, storytelling types than academic ones."
After the duo created Superman in 1934 in the Glenville apartment where Schuster lived, they shopped around the character for four years before they sold the rights to DC Comics for $130. They regretted the decision for the rest of their lives. "They knew they had a good thing," says Nobleman. "When Superman became a phenomenon almost immediately, they tried to renegotiate their contract and get a greater share of the money. But they were told, 'Boys, you should be happy with what you have.'"
These days, Nobleman travels around the country giving Siegel and Schuster the credit that eluded them when they were alive. "There's definitely some hometown pride I'm going to talk about that gives a new perspective on it," says Nobleman. "And because it's the first of its kind, [the book] also appeals to adult fans who get all things Superman just to have in their collections." Nobleman will be available for book-signings on three days at numerous locations: Today's signings are at 7 p.m. at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage (2929 Richmond Rd. in Beachwood, 216.593.0575) and 4 p.m. at the Cleveland Public Library's Main Branch (523 Superior Ave., 216.623.2969); tomorrow's signings are at 6:30 p.m. at Cleveland Public Library's Glenville Branch (11900 St. Clair Ave., 216.623.6983) and noon at the Children's Museum of Cleveland (10730 Euclid Ave., 216.791.5437); and Sunday's signing is at 2 p.m. at the Western Reserve Historical Society (10825 East Blvd., 216.721.5722). Admission is free. Visit mtncartoons.com for more information. - Cris Glaser
Armchair jewelry designers can learn from a pro today, when Guy Bedarida travels from his company's Bali headquarters to Beachwood to showcase the John Hardy firm's Naga, Bamboo and Silver Diamond collections. He'll also conduct one-on-one consultations with fashionistas who want to create their own "jewelry fantasies." "It's important that you try on the items and that you feel comfortable in them," says Bedarida, who's been the company's creative director for 10 years. "I want to evoke a feeling and an emotion in the wearer - whether it's beauty, strength or femininity."
The Naga collection is inspired by the Cosmic Dragon of Bali, which is a symbol of prosperity, happiness and power on the Indonesian island. It includes chains, bracelets and cuff links. It also features a Dot Silang motif based on ancient architecture that Bedarida saw on his trips to Beijing's Imperial Palace. Because it's in 3-D, the design is "technically very demanding" to produce, he says. "If you look at some of the items in the collection, you will see we have hollow balls of intertwining silver and gold dots. These pieces are cast as one and adorned by hand. This is an extraordinary effort requiring incredible knowledge and skill."
Because its mission is to create "sustainable luxury," the Bali-based company has earmarked part of its profits to the reforestation of the nearby island of Nusa Penida, where some exotic bird species risk extinction. "We chose it because of the opportunity to make a real difference," says Bedarida. "We work hard to make sure each piece of luxury jewelry is made in a way that is socially, environmentally and economically sustainable." See for yourself from 4 to 7 p.m. at Alson Jewelers (28149 Chagrin Blvd. in Beachwood). Admission is free. Call 216.464.6767 or visit alsonjewelers.com. - Glaser
Leif Skyving still can't get over the time when his dad took a doctor's advice to uproot his family from chilly Sweden and move them to sunny L.A. The move nearly ruined the comedian's pubescent years. "It was like a complete culture shock, a tough transition," says Skyving, who performs five shows at Bogey's Comedy Club this weekend. "At 11, I was just becoming established. My personality was just developing. I had my friends, and I was very comfortable where I was."
Now based in Boise, Skyving makes occasional trips to Stockholm to see his childhood BFFs. There's only one problem: His Swedish vocabulary is like an 11-year-old's. "When I go back - because I'm fluent and I don't have an accent - they don't realize I'm American," says Skyving. "They just think I'm retarded." Showtimes are at 8 p.m. today and 8 and 10:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday at Bogey's Comedy Club (28060 Chardon Rd. in Willoughby Hills). Tickets are $8 to $15. Call 440.944.9000 or visit bogeyscomedyclub.com. - P.F. Wilson
If you think Cleveland doesn't have the same cool vibes as cities on the East and West coasts, Danielle DeBoe is ready to prove you wrong with her twice-a-year Made in the 216 display, which spotlights local artists and designers. "This city is brimming with talent, creativity and ingenuity," says DeBoe, who owns Room Service on the West Side. "It just doesn't always like to admit it."
The collection features jewelry, furniture and baby clothes by designers like Wrath Arcade and Red I Jewelry. And they're all for sale. But it's your job to find the pieces among the foreign-made merchandise in stock. "There are no booths, no way to discern what was designed in Cleveland or in London," says DeBoe. "This event was born out of my personal desire to highlight the level of talent that resides within our borders and the fact that these designers have chosen to stay here. I think we should support that." The show runs from 4 to 9 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow at Room Service (6505 Detroit Ave.). Admission is free. Call 216.281.4221 or visit roomservicecleveland.com. - Katherine Fulton
After nearly two years on the drawing board, the inaugural Cleveland Comedy Festival is finally set to bust some guts this weekend at four venues around town. Veteran funnyman Don Mitri thinks it's about time we celebrate Northeast Ohio's longtime comedy troupes. "If you look back to Cabaret Dada, they've been hitting it every weekend for 14 years," he says. "That's amazing longevity in Cleveland. And there are so many new groups that are coming out now that are creating names for themselves - from the East Side to the West Side and everywhere in between. You get addicted to this art form by just watching it one time."
The fest kicks off tonight with two shows featuring more than 40 comics, including Lord Carrett, Jeff Blanchard and Mike Polk. Tomorrow, Plain Dealer columnist Mike McIntyre will moderate a fan forum featuring behind-the-scenes scoops on what it takes to crack the comedy-club circuit. The chuckles continue Sunday with Improv Afternoon Delight in the Flats, featuring off-the-cuff skits by Last Call Cleveland, short-form improv by Point of No Return and long-form improv by Friends With Benefits. The fest winds down three hours later with a taping of Cleveland Laughs, which will air later this year on WVIZ-TV 25. "Comedians in Cleveland are really making names for themselves," says Mitri. "They do it because they truly love it. It's definitely time for people to get a real glimpse at just how good Cleveland comedy is." The fest is at 8 and 10 p.m. today at the Hermit Club (1689 Dodge Ct., 216.621.2325), 4 p.m. tomorrow at The Plain Dealer (1801 Superior Ave., 216.999.5000), 4 p.m. Sunday at the Powerhouse Pub (2000 Sycamore St. on the West Bank of the Flats, 216.861.4952) and 7 p.m. Sunday at Idea Center (1519 Euclid Ave., 216.426.7335). Tickets are $10 to $15. Visit clecomedyfestival.com for details. - Glaser
At 31, Olympic gold medalist Shannon Miller considers herself "one of the elders with all the whippersnappers" on the Tour of Gymnastics Superstars, which comes to town tonight. The event features 11 of the country's best tumblers. For Miller's two solo numbers, she'll replicate routines on the balance beam and floor exercises that she performed at the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta games. "I have an absolutely different mentality and appreciation for the sport," says Miller, whose 16 Olympic and world-championship medals make her the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history. "But I think the love of being a competitive athlete never goes away." The tour also includes the 2008 women's team of Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Alicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel, who brought back the silver medal from the Beijing Olympics in August. Ohio State grad Blaine Wilson, from the 2004 Athens games, will also perform. All routines will be set to music by Jordan Pruitt and KSM, who'll perform live. "It's a rock concert meets gymnastics," says Miller, who graduated from law school and got married last year. "It takes the show to a whole new level where you're gonna see gymnastics up close, which is so different than on TV. It's so much higher and faster, and you've got people flying around the arena. It's awesome."
But the tour is probably Miller's swan song, since she plans to step aside and give the next generation the spotlight. "Their skill level is just out of this world," she says. "The women are performing tumbling skills that only the men used to do. It's crazy how fast the sport has evolved, but I'm not surprised at how well they've done." The action starts at 7:30 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena (100 Gateway Plaza). Tickets are $29.50 to $79.50. Visit theqarena.com for details. - Glaser
One lucky biker will score a $17,000 Fat Boy motorcycle at tonight's Greater Cleveland Police Scholarship Fund Reverse Raffle & Chinese Auction in Bedford Heights. Here's how it works: There'll be 400 raffle tickets in the hopper; organizers will draw them one by one. For every 25th ticket pulled, the winner will score a prize - like tickets to Browns, Cavs or Lake Erie Monsters games. The person who's holding the last drawn ticket will ride home on the blue-trimmed black bike. "It's really between the cruiser models that are bigger and more expensive, and just a straight ride, where you can hop from bar to bar," says organizer Debbie Kvacek. "It's freakin' gorgeous." Party from 6 to 11 p.m. at South East Harley-Davidson (23105 Aurora Rd. in Bedford Hts.). Tickets are $100. Call 440.439.5300 for more information. - Glaser
Rattlesnake Island is the mysterious outpost on Lake Erie that's so remote that a rogue warrior could run a heroin and white-slavery empire on the isle. But at tonight's Treasures of the Lake benefit at the Union Club in Cleveland, a two-night getaway at the private-club resort is the big-ticket item on the auction block. It raises money for Vermilion's Great Lakes Historical Society. Other prizes range from a trip on the working freighter Paul Tregurtha to a model of the Lake Erie "ghost ship" Rouse Simmons. Kinda makes you pine for summer. The benefit starts at 6 p.m. at the Union Club (1211 Euclid Ave.). Tickets are $125. Call 800.893.1485 or visit inlandseas.org. - Charles Cassady Jr.
As he was making his way through the 50 states researching his book, Bowling Across America, Mike Walsh discovered that knocking down 10 pins isn't as easy as it looks. He also found out that you don't want to argue with pinheads. "The bowling establishment doesn't think it's funny when you talk [about] how bowling is not a sport," says the 33-year-old Walsh. "Bowling is definitely a sport and not something to be mocked or taken lightly. To bowl well, you have to be a decent athlete."
Walsh spent 156 days on the road in 2002, traveling in a 10-year-old Honda he borrowed from his mom. While his average stands at 130, he bowled his best game of 180 at a Columbus alley. He posted his worst score - 83 - at his favorite set of lanes in New Orleans, where he says a zydeco band distracted him. In addition to getting a book out of all this, Walsh also gained six pounds. "A steady diet of nacho cheese and beer is the kinda thing that can only lead to putting on a couple pounds," he laughs.
But you can't beat a set of Ohio lanes - especially during the colder months, when natives "get out of the cloudy haze and into a bowling alley," says Walsh. "People in the Midwest are more steeped in the bowling culture. You always see someone you know, and you can always get a good burger or malted milkshake while enjoying 10 lanes of camaraderie. The Midwest is certainly where the heart of bowling resides." Walsh signs his book at 7 p.m. at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (24519 Cedar Rd. in Lyndhurst). Admission is free. Call 216.691.7000 or visit josephbeth.com. - Glaser
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