"The Mechanical Monsters”
Superman by Paramount/Fleischer Studios – November 1941
What “The Mechanical Monsters” hath wrought, and which has been persistently associated with Superman ever since, was the first use of a phone booth being engaged by Clark in order to affect his transformation to the Man of Steel.
The episode is rife with iconic imagery – the lolling, looming mechanical monsters themselves have affected popular culture, and there’s an unforgettable scene in which Superman deflects a deluge of molten metal, for instance – but the phone booth made the arguably greatest impact.
Even though it rarely pops up in later media, the association of phone booths with Superman was so firmly entrenched that, by the original feature-length Superman movie in 1978, Clark finding himself befuddled by a modern clamshell style phone kiosk created a tremendous wave of comedic frission with the audience.
Where did the phone booth end up making the most appearances? Well, just by dint of the volume, it probably appeared in the comic books more than anywhere else – there have been, after all, literally thousands of original comic book stories featuring the Man of Steel, compared to a few hundred cartoons and tv episodes, a handful of movies, etc. Outside of the comics, more than likely it’s either been in the radio serial, where phone booths were occasionally mentioned as Clark’s preferred changing room, or – assuming you count this as an oeuvre – childrens’ books.
Standalone titles aimed at very young children tend to tap the most common components of the Superman myths, and I’d be willing to bet there’s a higher percentage of phone booths in various “How To Read” and Activity books than in any other Super-medium.