Being a collection of real world encounters by comic book creators with their characters. . .
About a decade ago, Alvin Schwartz, who wrote Superman comic strips in the 1940s and '50s, published one of the great Odd Books of our time. In An Unlikely Prophet, reissued in paperback this spring, Schwartz writes that Superman is real. He is a tulpa, a Tibetan word for a being brought to life through thought and willpower. Schwartz also says a Hawaiian kahuna told him that Superman once traveled 2,000 years back in time to keep the island chain from being destroyed by volcanic activity. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn't, but it does sound like a job for Superman – all in a day's work for a guy who can squeeze coal into diamonds. Schwartz then tells of his own encounter with Superman in a New York taxi, when he learned firsthand that Superman's cape is, in fact, more than mere fabric. . .
An Unlikely Prophet arrived at my door early this morning. It begins with the author receiving a phone call from a Tibetan tulpa named Thongden, who appears a few days later on a bicycle. Seeking to be made real by Schwartz, it is Thongden who started the author on the path that would eventually lead him to the Man of Tomorrow.
Schwartz, however, is not the only comic book writer to have an encounter with one of their characters.
Grant Morrison speaks frequently of meeting an incarnation of Superman during a shamanistic experience, as well as a wide variety of his Invisibles characters, and in fact has developed an entire occult system based on interacting with them.
It was Superman Plus. I wrote most of it after meeting the Man of Steel at 2am opposite the Sheraton in San Diego - a true shamanic moment.
"He was wearing the best Superman suit I've seen and looked fantastic as Superman, a cross between Chris Reeve and Billy Zane, so we asked him if he'd answer some questions which he did in the character of Superman! It was like a possession. I'd say to the guy, 'So how do you feel about Batman?' and he'd come back with 'Well, Batman and I don't really see eye to eye on a lot of things. He's so hung up on the darkness in everyone's soul and I just don't see it that way…' and so on. He spoke to us for about an hour and a half.
"The thing that really hit me, wasn't so much what Superman was saying as how he was sitting. He was perched on a bollard with one knee drawn up, chin resting on his arms. He looked totally relaxed…and I suddenly realized this was how Superman would sit. He wouldn't puff out his chest or posture heroically, he would be totally chilled. If nothing can hurt you, you can afford to be cool. A man like Superman would never have to tense against the cold; never have to flinch in the face of a blow. He would be completely laid back, un-tense. With this image of Superman relaxing on a cloud looking out for us all in my head, I rushed back to my hotel room and filled dozens of pages of my notebook with notes and drawings."