Kansas may be the home of Superman, but where exactly is Smallville?


We’ve all heard it a million times—“I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.”

When people try that on me, I always respond with, “You know Superman grew up in Kansas, right? Lord knows what he would have been if he grew up in (insert state here).”

Just in case you didn’t know or forgot, the famous DC Comics character Superman came to Earth via a rocket ship from the planet Krypton. The most widely accepted depiction of his origin has it that he landed in a fictional Kansas town called Smallville and was raised there by the Kents.

As a kid, I was a bit disappointed to learn that there wasn’t a real Smallville and was even more disappointed when I learned that the Smallville scenes in “Superman: The Movie” were filmed in Canada. However, on countless trips across the state, I visited many towns that reminded me greatly of them. They include Buhler, Cunningham, Nickerson, and Greensburg, so I unofficially considered them to be the true Smallville(s) of Kansas.

Just last week, I came across an article saying that a comic book artist in Kansas named Christopher Wietrick was trying to campaign for his town to be renamed Smallville, citing various comparisons. Naturally, I was curious to see what town it was. I was surprised to find it was Hutchinson, the town I grew up in.

Now, you would think that I, a life-long Superman fan, would be excited at that prospect, but my reaction was a flat out, “No.”

The points Wietrick made were how the fictional and real towns were agriculturally based, along with having a food market and a restored theater on Main Street. What he left out was how the city is much larger than a Main Street and includes a Dillon’s supermarket, a Wal-Mart and a McDonalds Restaurant.

To me, Smallville represented the innocence of American values, like a Norman Rockwell painting. To my knowledge, I’ve never seen a Rockwell painting that depicted corporations like Wal-Mart and McDonalds.

When I sat down and thought about it, I too came up with other examples of the towns I visited over the years. Buhler, Cunningham and Nickerson were examples of “Main Street Towns” that too were surrounded by farm fields for planting wheat and corn. Probably the most notable is the town of Greensburg, which actually had a meteorite hit there, which could be cited as were the rocket ship landed, while the meteor itself can be cited as Kryptonite.

While I’m all for our state being more recognized as being Superman’s home state, instead of the standard Dorothy and Toto references, I feel that a place like Hutchinson is too incorporated to be referred to as Smallville, while there are other towns that are more worthy of the title.

If anything, it should be kept ambiguous, so that anyone in any small town can be proud that someone like Superman, a fictional character that has been around for 74 years, can astound the world.