Still one of my favorite Joe images — from the front page of The Glenville Torch on the day before Thanksgiving in 1932.
I think that this image — and its popularity — made Jerry begin to think that illustrated stuff — comics — might be a better thing to try than the weird short stories he had been writing.
Happy Thanksgiving, all.
Brian Doherty reviews Super Boys for the L.A. Review of Books:
Ricca did the Clark Kent/Lois Lane reporter job well: he went out and got the story…I hope it’s true, as Ricca reports, that Jerry Siegel died happy. He deserved it. He and his partner were clearly vibrant, and full of wit and a winning desire to make real the dream that was uniquely theirs. While they made some regrettable decisions regarding their Kryptonian creation, their decision to create him, however much grief it cost them, was ultimately a great gift to them, to comic book history, and to American pop mythology.
Read the whole thing here.
Over at The Beat, Jeff Trexler explains and analyzes yesterday’s decision that affirmed that the Shusters could not terminate their half of the Superman copyright. According to Deadline, WB said that ”We are obviously very pleased with the court’s decision.” Jeff provides his usual incisive commentary:
Is it fair that the Shuster heirs only secured a meager pension while the Siegel heirs stand to gain tens of millions of dollars in exchange for the same rights? Arguably not, but from a legal perspective it’s a cautionary tale as old as the biblical story of Jacob and Esau, who sold his precious birthright for some lentil soup. Immediate benefits can be extremely costly in the longer term, especially if an attorney isn’t on hand to negotiate a better deal.
Read Jeff’s entire analysis here. Also news articles at Deadline and Variety. You can read the actual (unpublished) decision here.
I’ve made my opinion known on the Shuster side of the case before. The lawsuit is as complicated, dramatic, and unbelievable as any issue of Superman ever was. But it is real, and thus completely separate in a way that affects real people through (literally) life and death decisions. I present all sides (there are more than two) in the book so you can make up your own mind. Many people have told me that they really liked the way I did the lawsuit — though they hated having to read it.
So in footnote #1 of this new court document:
Cue me blinking. I know other authors and collectors who have worked with lawyers on both sides of this case in terms of providing information — I have not. It’s kind of cool to be part of the record, but it still feels a little strange.
This past weekend, I went to the Akron Comic-Con, a good local con in its second year. Thanks to the incredibly nice Michael Savene for inviting me. It was fun — I finally met all-timers Tony Isabella and Tom Batiuk, both of whom said really nice things about the book, so that was crazy. There were lots of good people there like Marc Sumerak, John Dudas, John Haines, Jon Judy, Sean McArdle, Adam Luhta, and Bob Ingersoll (though I didn’t get to talk to him). I met a lot of great fans, including a guy named Dennis Fitzgerald, who told me how he grew up on a farm and how his best friend was named Jimmy Olsen. His whole life, people called him “Superman.”
Here’s a video of the panel I was on with Mike Barr (Camelot 3000), Mike Olszewski (The Siegel & Shuster Society), Mike Sangiacomo (Phantom Jack, The Starlight Drive-In), and Jon Bogdanove (uh…Superman). All dudes, though I still can’t believe I can do stuff like this. Excuse my cold and coughing throughout. We had a great crowd for this. Nothing better than talking comics in a carpeted hotel room on a dreary Saturday. That’s it, man.
Unasbashed: if you’ve never read Tales of the Starlight Drive-In, track one down — great storytelling, also includes some early Francesco Francavilla art. Plus Derf does a chapter as well.
My table was two down from Tom Scioli, who I have been a big fan of for years. I was shocked to learn that his magnum opus American Barbarian is now out-of-print (even though it basically just came out!!). CRIME. Check out Tom’s work here and on the upcoming G.I. Joe/Transformers from IDW. He gets it/has it, obviously:
From The Pacific Stars & Stripes, September 5, 1945.
Wendy Wasler reviews Super Boys for the Jewish Book Council:
Ricca goes where no writer has gone before, and he begins at the very beginning with Siegel and Shuster as children of immigrants making their way in Cleveland and Toronto, respectively…Ricca’s thoroughly-researched biography reads like an adventure novel, and it’s no surprise that the subtitle echoes Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer-prize-winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which may have been based on the lives of Siegel and Shuster…a must-have companion for all fans of the super duo that gave us Superman.
Read the entire review here.
Super Boys has been named to the Top 10 Books about the Arts list for 2013 by Booklist! Donna Seaman writes:
In this exciting chronicle, Ricca reveals the roller-coaster story of Superman’s creation by would-be sf writer Siegel and his schoolmate Shuster, who nearly lost all connection to their hugely popular and profitable superhero.
Thank you BL — very humbling company on this list.
Review today from Electronic Cerebrectomy:
Towards the end of Brad Ricca’s excellent biography of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the author talks about “the truth” that Siegel realized when he was inspired to create Superman: “that a hero could also be funny, ugly, or awkward; he could be human by virtue of being alien.” He puts forth the idea that what made Superman so popular was not his amazing feats, but the simple truth that “he was really just like us. He had to put on a suit, he had to go to work, and the one he loved was always walking away.” That, Ricca posits, is what let us into the character, in on the fantasy, and finally concludes that “The truth made things stronger, not weaker.”
Read the entire review here.
I got invited to talk to the Great Lakes Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society — who met in the back room of Market Garden, a great local pub/brewer (here in Cleveland it is “Beer Week”).
The Society shows up several times in Jerry and Joe’s story — at some really triumphant points and some not-so-much (depending on who you ask). Because it was a bunch of artists, we could focus on Joe — they really liked all the unpublished art from the book. Plus: brunch and beer.
The other speaker was Gary Dumm of American Splendor fame. He and his wife Laura just finished a set of wall murals located right outside Market Garden (see right for applicable panel). Polly Keener, the chair of the Great Lakes Chapter, even brought her American Splendor #1 for Gary to sign.
A highlight for me was selling books to Clevelander Terri Libenson, who produces the syndicated strip “The Pajama Diaries.” I’m a big fan of Terri’s work, especially the way she champions the art of cartooning — if you get a chance to hear her speak about being syndicated, visiting Charles Schulz’s studio, etc. — do so — very humbling. Cleveland (see the book) has a loooong history of cartooning and Terri is right there keeping it going. And get this: I also sold a book to Chip Sansom, who does “The Born Loser.” Chip’s dad Art created the strip, who then handed it over to his son, who has done it himself for 20 years, making it his own. An all-time great — my friends and I had just been talking about how classic the coat of arms still is.
Thanks to Market Garden, Polly and Ron Hill for inviting me. I didn’t find out until later that Ron helped draw one of my favorite nerd images — more on that later maybe. I also met John Weber, who produces “The Punchline,” a videocast on comic strips. His stuff on Calvin & Hobbes (as Doctor Who?!?) is really good – check it out. And, as always, thanks to Ed Black, who has been a supporter of my work (and this story) since the first time I showed the film. Ed is a great guy. Check out his “Cartoon Flashback” blog for some cool historical stuff.
Leah Schnelbach at Tor.com has a nice write-up of the “Ode to Nerds” panel I moderated this past weekend at New York Comic-Con. The line-up was impressive: Lev Grossman, Kami Garcia, Victoria Schwab, Michael Underwood, and Matthew Reinhardt. This was certainly the most well-attended panel I have ever been a part of — we had a good time flying the nerd flag. This was my favorite part:
Then they got to the most fun part of the panel: their best nerd artifact.
Underwood wanted a Force FX Lightsaber when it first came out, but it was too expensive. Over time, it gained a lot of psychic weight for him, and when he got his first book advance he bought it for himself as a reward. Schwab had a couple of things—a Filipe Andrade print, most of a set of Slytherin formalwear (she plans to get her wand on her first trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter next year) and, for four straight book, her advance money has gone toward buying the complete Sandman. But the biggest one of all—in the late nineties, before anyone knew who J.K. Rowling was, a friend of her mother’s got her a signed first edition of Sorcerer’s Stone.
We were all silent for a moment.
Nerds rule. Read the whole summary here. My current favorite nerd artifact? Got it at the Con: