When it comes to superheroes, Tasmin Humphries didn’t get the stereotypical memo that girls must idolize Wonder Woman and boys should look up to Superman. (Although, she’s a fan of Diana, too.)
Raised on “The Adventures of Lois & Clark” and “Superman: The Movie,” the Man of Steel became her ultimate hero, thanks to his status as most powerful being ever and his commitment to always do good.
The release of the 2006 movie “Superman Returns” inspired Tasmin to take her status as a Super fan to the next level and she began collecting hundreds of items, from comic books to memorabilia. Her collection now includes more than 1,800 pieces, which could qualify her for World Record status and has captured the attention of many blogs and media outlets, including the BBC.
Tasmin writes about her collection and enduring obsession with Supes on her blog, theaspiringkryptonian.com, and she’s constantly on the prowl for new collectibles everywhere, from eBay to car boots.
Below, she discusses her love of the American hero who became a global icon, why Superman isn’t boring, the new series “Krypton,” her appreciation for every incarnation of the Man of Steel, including Brandon Routh, and why Mr. Mustache himself, Henry Cavill, is her current favorite.
You’re a Superman super fan whose collection of comic books and memorabilia numbers around 1,500 items. You and your collection have been receiving a lot of coverage lately, including BBC and online interviews. What has that experience been like?
Yeah, it’s been great! I really didn’t expect it to go that far! Although, the amount of times I’ve had to get the collection down from the attic has been exhausting. But so worth it. I love sharing my collection with everyone.
I understand you’re close to hitting the record for largest Superman collection in the world. Wow! Is that something that’s going to happen?
Well, the world record is 1,519 items, but I actually have 1,828. Although I have heard they don’t allow comics to be counted in the record, which sets me back a little. But that is one of my goals, yes, and the collection is increasing quite rapidly, so we shall see.
Stereotypically, girls tend to be encouraged to admire superheroes like Wonder Woman, while boys are encouraged to look up to Superman or Batman. How did you subvert this stereotype?
Well, I didn’t really know I was doing it … I was never a girly girl, and I always loved playing with cars and was quite the tomboy. So it started at a young age, but don’t get me wrong, I do love Wonder Woman and other superheroes, including female ones. But Superman just stands out to me. I love being that girl who isn’t interested in spending hundreds on makeup and shoes, I love being that weird and different girl who collects Superman and loves superheroes. And I think it’s important that it’s encouraged.
At what age were you introduced to Superman? What were your first impressions of the Man of Steel?
I was around 6-7 when I first saw Superman on the TV — it was Dean Cain in “The Adventures of Lois & Clark.” I loved it, I was always interested in superheroes and sci-fi stuff, and I was just hooked. I used to watch it most weeks from then, which lead me on to “Superman: The Movie.”
I read that you would watch “The Adventures of Lois & Clark” with your grandfather. What do you remember about that?
I just remember being mesmerised by the idea that this guy could fly, and saved people. I loved it. I was quite young, so I can’t remember all of my feelings. But my Grandad died when I was 10, so I cherish those memories and it has quite a lot of sentimental value to me.
What is it about Superman that your fascination with the character has endured beyond childhood?
It’s just love the idea of it, someone who strives to do good in any situation even if it affects himself. I love that he is one of the most powerful beings, well, alien, yet he disguises himself as a human, a geeky human who has no confidence whatsoever. I’ve always loved the idea of alter egos and suddenly transforming into your best possible self. I think I just aspired to be like him and he’s a great role model and hero to have.
You’ve said Superman is a “popular character but he also gets a lot of unnecessary criticism.” Could you elaborate on that?
Well, he gets called boring and the big blue boy scout. People say he is boring because of the power that he has and because he always does good. He’s a superhero, what do you expect? They say he isn’t relatable, and that he’s old fashioned, but he is one of the most relatable characters, he is old fashioned, but not in a bad way. He’s been around for 80 years. He’s iconic.
There’s always this dilemma with Superman, that he’s too powerful and therefore difficult to write. What do you think about that idea?
I think it’s stupid — he is powerful, yes, but doesn’t use his power to its full capability because of his morals, he holds back even for criminals and bad guys. If he did, well god help them. Although he is the most powerful, he doesn’t want to be. Plus he has weaknesses — Kryptonite and a fair few Kryptonian villains whose powers are parallel.
You began collecting in earnest in 2006. What sparked that?
It was “Superman Returns.” Once that came out there was a lot of memorabilia released, whereas before there wasn’t much out in shops. I loved the film, so I wanted the t-shirt, and then the poster, and then it spiralled out of control from there.
Where do you tend to acquire the items for your collection?
All over really. I get a lot from eBay, though, and also Amazon. Car boots are also good too!
What are some of your favorite or prized items?
I have a few autographs from Brandon Routh and Dean Cain. I also have a General Zod figurine signed by Terrence Stamp himself. Comic-wise, I have Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, and Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man.
Where do you keep all this stuff? I read that your boyfriend has promised to build you a Superman museum someday.
Everywhere. I currently live in a two-bed flat with my mum, so my room is covered in it. It actually looks like a 10-year-old boy’s room … But a majority of it is in the attic. I’m hoping to get a place with my boyfriend in the next year or so, and we have agreed that I am allowed a Superman room — my very own Fortress of Solitude.
Is there an ultimate dream item that would make your collection complete?
Well, of course, Action Comics #1 — although I don’t have a spare $3 million …
As a fan, you consider “every representation of Superman” a success. Even the 2006 film “Superman Returns” with Brandon Routh?!
Yes, ultimately that’s what started my collection. A lot of people hate that representation of Superman yet love Christopher Reeves, but the way that Brandon Routh was told to portray Supes is the same way Christopher Reeve did and I think he did a great job.
Seriously, though, it’s very broadminded of you to appreciate every incarnation of Superman. Why do you appreciate them all?
Each person that has played Superman has done it in their own style, or taken their own take on the character. Look how different Henry Cavill’s Superman is to Christopher Reeve’s. I, of course, have my favourites, but I do genuinely appreciate every take on Superman so far.
You do have a soft spot for the latest Superman, played by Henry Cavill. What do you like about him?
I do, yes. He’s taken a character and made it his own, he has brought Superman into reality and made him 100% relatable. “Man of Steel” is my favourite Superman film, and he really understands the character. He is also a fan of Superman himself and you can see that in his portrayal, you can tell he wants to do the character justice (no pun intended) and I love that.
“Man of Steel” is your favorite Superman film. There’s been a lot of buzz about the sequel lately. What are your expectations for that?
I am very excited for that! I’d like to see a villain we haven’t seen on the big screen before, and I’d like to see Henry return. I know he has had talks about the sequel, so I’d like him to have a bit of input to the film — he knows what he is doing. It’s about time he had a sequel.
How do you feel about the much-maligned “Batman v Superman” and “Justice League”?
I love “Batman v Superman,” although I would have liked to see more of Superman before Doomsday was introduced. That’s my only peeve with it. Other than that, it’s an incredible film. “Justice League,” there are parts I liked, that scene where Superman was brought back is my favourite part. But I do have issues with it — and I can only imagine what it could have been if (original director) Zack Snyder had full control throughout.
You watched and reviewed the SYFY series “Krypton.” Tell me all your thoughts about the show.
I love it. It’s great to see the stories of Krypton being told, especially BEFORE Superman. All we’ve ever really seen on TV and film is Krypton being destroyed. We are also hearing and learning about the history of Krypton, which I love. The cast are amazing, and so, so talented and I won’t give anything away but, although it’s set before Superman, a lot of his acquaintances show up.
You wrote some thoughtful tweets on the passing of Margot Kidder, who famously played Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve. How did you feel upon hearing the news?
I was sad. You never think of your heroes passing. She was supposed to be at Comic-Con last year but cancelled. She was also announced for this year, too, so I was hoping I’d get the chance to meet her, but unfortunately not.
You have a blog, theaspiringkryptonian.com, dedicated to your collection and your fandom. When and why did you decide to start writing about them?
Just over a year, I think. I wanted to do it so I could share my collection and interests with the world. None of my friends/family are really into the whole Superman thing, so I interacted with people on social media and it went from there.
What do you enjoy most about blogging?
I just love seeing that people are actually reading what I write! It’s a great way for me to show my passion and I’ve learnt a lot by doing it.
One of the things you’ve said you like about Superman is that his stories represent minorities, especially in some of the older comics. Tell me more about this and why this stands out to you.
Yeah, I’ve been reading the old comics recently, and he sticks up for criminals and gives them a second chance. He also sticks up for women — back then it was very much a man’s world and even he was fighting for equality, also between the rich and the poor. It stands out to me because things like this are still happening, and it’s amazing to see your hero stick up for those minorities and tackle those issues. I am technically classed as a minority — you don’t get a lot of black female nerds out there. It doesn’t matter what the minority is, everyone should have an equal chance at life.
When it comes to Superman comic books, what are some of your favorite titles, runs, graphic novels, writers, artists, etc.?
I have many … Favourite title and graphic novel is Red Son or Kingdom Come. Comic runs, I love The Adventures of Superman — to me, that is classic Superman. Writers — Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway and Curt Swan. Artists — Alex Ross, Curt Swan, Jim Lee. Kaare Andrews’ take on the hero is beautiful too.
You got the rare opportunity to visit DC Headquarters on a visit to the U.S. I want to hear all about that!
It was amazing! I couldn’t believe it when I was there. I still can’t believe it now. I would love to work there, it’s a heaven for geeks like me!
I see you were recently making the rounds of Superman arcade games. I need more details!
Yeah, I went on holiday for a weekend and saw a load of Justice League arcade games. It was great! I had to have a go on them!
You have two Superman tattoos. Tell us about them.
Yeah, I wanted to get something to show my passion for Superman. My first Superman-based one was Superman and Wonder Woman on King and Queen playing cards. I also love Wonder Woman. My second one is “Man of Steel” Kryptonian for “be weird,” because you should embrace your uniqueness.
Are you a DC girl in general? What are some of your favorite superheroes aside from the Man of Steel?
Yeah I’m a DC Girl, but I do also like Marvel. I’m not against them. Other than Superman, I love Wonder Woman. I also love some of the villains — Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Aquaman. Marvel-wise, I love Captain America and Thor, along with The Punisher. A bit of everything really.
What other fandoms are you into?
Erm, none really as much as this, but I absolutely LOVE Harry Potter, Disney films, too, Star Wars, Game of Thrones.
In your opinion, is there a Marvel hero who matches up to Supes?
Morals-wise — Captain America. Power-wise — Thor is close, but I’m not sure he could take him.
Who would win in a fight, Superman or Wonder Woman?
Superman. Although they are both very strong and powerful, Supes has the upper hand. Although I’m sure there’s comics where she has beaten him.
What’s your favorite color of Kryptonite?
Personally, I’d like some X-Kryptonite, so I can get me some powers! But on the big screen I’d like to see black Kryptonite in action. I’d like to see the evil side to Superman, just because it’s so different and hasn’t been done before.
Who’s your favorite Superman villain?
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I have two: Bizarro for obvious reasons. But also Mr Mxyzptlk because he is just an odd concept and he’s bonkers! I think he’s hilarious.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how big was the Henry Cavill mustache fiasco?
When I first saw, it was an 8, but I’ve calmed down now. But it could have been covered up so much better. But I loved that he joked and still jokes about it.
Is Superman a uniquely American icon or a symbol of hope for the world?
I think he was created an American icon — “truth, justice, and the American way,” that’s something he said quite often. But now he’s become hope for the world. I’m British and I love him. I know there are others in other countries that believe the same.
If you were to write the next Superman comic or movie, what direction would you take the character in?
That’s difficult. I’d like to see a new villain that we haven’t seen before, maybe Bizarro or Darkseid. I’d like to see something similar to “Man of Steel” and tackling real issues, as well as supervillains.