Will Bruhn, a Philadelphia native, has been a Superman fan since he was a child and spent most of his youth wondering where Metropolis was.
Yes, Will Bruhn,
there is a Metropolis!
After years of wondering where Metropolis is and believing that the town does exist, Bruhn was flipping through The Wizzard Magazine in 2010 when he came across an advertisement for the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Ill.
When he saw the ad — which he still has posted on his refrigerator door — he quickly called the telephone number to get more information. The Metropolis Chamber of Commerce sent him a packet that told him that year's Celebration celebrities included Laura Vandervoot, who played Supergirl on Smallville.
Bruhn really wanted to attend the Celebration, but he and Julita had just had their daughter, Belldandy, and financially it wasn't possible. So when the 2011 Superman Celebration rolled around, the family made the trek from Philadelphia to Metropolis. On that visit, the couple looked around town and at houses, contemplating the idea of moving to Metropolis.
The decision was made shortly after returning to Philadelphia. But Bruhn had his father's unpaid debts — he passed away in 2002 — and a financial mess that he had to deal with, along with his grandmother's house. However, his uncle Jack, who passed away from cancer, had left Bruhn a monetary inheritance. With that money, Bruhn was able to pay off his father's unpaid debts. In addition, he was eventually able to sell his house, paving the way for the Bruhns to move to Metropolis.
A Super sign
Prior leaving Philadelphia, Bruhn said the most amazing thing happened.
Lois & Clark's Dean Cain came to town to attend Wizzard Con for the first time ever. Bruhn took the opportunity to meet his hero.
Dressed as Kingdom Comes Superman, Bruhn was nervous about wearing the suit in front of Cain, thinking Cain might not like it because it was not like his version. Instead, Cain told him, "You have a great suit."
"He was such a great guy. I was just so blown away," Bruhn said. "He was everything I thought he would be."
Bruhn had the opportunity to tell Cain his story — how he had written to him and how he was his hero those years he watched the show. Cain apologized that he never got his letter and gave Bruhn a photo on which he wrote, "You're an inspiration."
After the Bruhns attended the 2012 Superman Celebration, they didn't have far to return home — their moving van arrived here from Philadelphia on the event's last day. For Bruhn, whose goal was to start his own comic book shop, one of his first items of business when he arrived in Metropolis was finding for a location.
But finding one didn't come quickly, and it was rather discouraging. At the time Bruhn spoke to the Planet in July, he admitted it was a critical time for him — he had used his inheritance money to purchase their house and a vehicle. His hope was to secure a business loan to help keep the business afloat during its first year, but he would not be able to get a loan until he had an actual business.
Shortly after that interview, Bruhn found a location. Daily Star Comics, located at 300 W. 10th St., which opened Nov. 3.
Why Daily Star?
Bruhn said true Superman fans would know that from 1938-42, Clark Kent worked for The Daily Star and editor George Taylor. It was not until the radio show that Perry White and The Daily Planet made their debut.
Bruhn said he has heard people come to Metropolis looking for a comic book store but there is not one here. "I'm not going to take any business away from the Super Museum," he said. "There is so much stuff the Super Museum does not sell; he doesn't carry current books and new things."
Bruhn spoke briefly about how the Superman market is fluctuating right now. "Superman's costume is in flux at the moment," he said, explaining Superman is currently wearing armor. "It's just silly. He's invulnerable. Why does he need armor?" Bruhn hopes comic book artists go back to the original version.
'This is my shot'
Because of his many medical problems, the State of Pennsylvania put Bruhn on Social Security income (SSI). It was not his choice but a decision by his surgeons, doctors and welfare. However, when he received his inheritance, the state took him off SSI. At some point, he may end up back on SSI, but right now, the only way he can earn money is to work for himself.
"I don't want to be on it [SSI]," he said. "I'm tired of sitting around the house and taking care of the baby. I love my baby, I love my wife, but I should be working and she should be home. This is not what I signed up for. So this is my shot, for what it's worth. To me it's worth an awful lot. I cannot have come all this way just to go back to SSI."
Bruhn recalled going to the comic book store close to where he attended junior high. "I was there all the time," he said.
The store's owner Steve would let Bruhn help out in the store by stocking shelves. "I didn't have money. He let me sweep up and do errands and he'd give me comics. Steve was always encouraging me to draw," he said, describing Steve as a person who loved comics and loved kids. "Steve was great. I wouldn't know about half the stuff about Superman had it not been for Steve."
When Bruhn was about 17, Steve moved and sold the store. Another owner, who admittedly did not like comics or kids, took over and let some bad elements into the store. Eventually the store closed.
"I want to help kids here," said Bruhn, who wants to be a positive influence on the kids in Metropolis like Steve was for him.
Bruhn also wants his comic book store to help local artists. He hopes to be able to devote one full wall for them to showcase their work for a month. The artists will get 100 percent of the profit from any of the sales of their works of art. In exchange, Bruhn asks 40 hours of the artists' time to work in his store.
Bruhn also hopes Daily Star Comics will become a permanent fixture in Metropolis.
"I'm a new guy to the town. I love Metropolis. As far as I'm concerned, I've been a Metropolis person since I was 13 — I just physically haven't been able to find it until a few years ago."