Douglas J. Guth talks about Super Boys in an article about pop culture books over at Fresh Water Cleveland:
At its core, Super Boys is a star-crossed account of fame’s fickleness, says the University Heights resident. Peering deeper into old newspaper articles and the private collections of Superman fans, Ricca discovered how writer Siegel and his artist friend, Shuster, drew their ideas from a period rampant with crime, poverty and uncertainty. Ricca came across Depression-era ads on physical fitness, showing a “super man” wearing a cape. The need for a hero during these tumultuous times was palpable.
To read the entire article, click here. And check out the fantastic work of Matthew Chojnacki and Marty Gitlin too.
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.
James Tehrani over at Workforce magazine uses Super Boys…to motivate better business practices?!?! In “Superman’s Origins and Why You Should Supercharge Those Who Do Superwork,” Tehrani writes:
If retaining your best workers is your goal — and why shouldn’t it be? — the time is now to start rewarding them and recognizing their contributions internally and externally. The economy will eventually pick up and jobs will open. As your company soars to new heights thanks to the creativity and ingenuity of your team members, the organization should let the workers come along for the ride.
I will never claim to be an expert on corporate America, but writing the book has helped me understand how and why it proliferated, especially in the arts — and especially in comics. I was very careful to be objective about the lawsuit and ethical arguments surrounding the two creators because, quite frankly, the facts don’t need any additional spin. They are what they are. They just needed more explanation. But I was never business guy so the idea of people in business reading about Jerry and Joe as moral/ethical examples is really excellent, I think. My Dad, who left a small corporation to form his own business, would have loved this.
Read Tehrani’s entire piece here.
Since the book came out, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of some interesting events. This one took the cake. John Dudas of Carol & John’s Comics, a stalwart institution here for 23 years (and a Cleveland comics landmark in its own right) got in touch and said, “We’re going to do a beer pairing event. Only not with food … with comics.”
Hosted by Great Lakes Brewery (if you visit Cleveland, a must-visit), over 80 people bought a ticket and showed up to hear how books like The Massive, Captain America, and Saga were good companions to GLBC brews like Edmund Fitzgerald, Eliot Ness, and Burning River, respectively. John and craft brewer Joel Warger (along with manager Jefferson West) did a great job — it was like a geek wedding reception. They gave away all the comics they talked about, a commemorative pint glass, a 6-pack of GLBC bottles, and more. It’s the best comics event I’ve been a part of. John had the best suggestion: read The Long Halloween chronologically and pair with the appropriate monthly seasonal beer. Nice.
When it was time for me to talk at the end (pairing Dortmunder Gold with All-Star Superman #1), I had already ‘tasted’ five beers on no food so I think I babbled about the infant universe of Qwewq and how All-Star Superman #11 is the Unified Field Theory of Comics. Or something.
After doing a poetry reading once with Nick McCrae after a couple of beers, I swore off reading and drinking. Apparently I didn’t listen. But people liked it (and didn’t seem to notice actually, which maybe is disturbing in itself).
We all had a great time. Hope to do it again soon.
For a nice write-up of the event by Douglas J. Guth, visit the CNJcomics website here. All photos here by Laura Wimbels.
I also finally met Greg Golembiski, who did a Jerry and Joe commission for me that I am still figuring out where to use (it’s great). As I walked to my car, I saw him sketching this on W. 25th’s infamous Chalk Wall:
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:
Jerry Siegel was born today on October 17, 1914.