Posted on 21 June 2013
The Frantic Meerkat and I both grew up in the same small farm town in Illinois (population 1,300). Art was not taught at the schools in this town, with academic preference leaning toward tractor engine repair and cattle breeding. Things were not easy for a brooding young artist in cow country.
Despite the obstacles, I really wanted to be an artist, so my parents made an arrangement with the school that I would drive two towns over to attend art classes in a slightly larger town. Every afternoon for my last two years of high school I drove to the town of Plano and was taught by a fantastic art teacher named Ms. Felt. During that time I won an award that was named for my grandfather, who was a beloved teacher in Plano long before I was born. He even had a park named after him.
Two years ago Kim went back to our hometown for a funeral, and her mother drove her to witness Plano, Illinois being transformed into Smallville, Kansas for Man of Steel. The art department had painted a huge flag on the side of a building, and several false buildings were constructed down the street, complete with Kryptonian battle damage. One street was closed completely and a fake Sears store built across it, for a scene where Superman gets smashed in the face by a train engine and knocked into the appliance section.
The visit from Hollywood has apparently revitalized Plano, and now they have a yearly festival called Smallville Superfest (not to be confused with the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois). Below are some pics Kim snapped from her visit:
I thought the movie was a loud, relentless mess, completely devoid of fun (for the best Superman story of all time I suggest All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely). But it was good to see Plano again.
Below: An alien standing in downtown Smallville.