Steranko!

So this happened on Twitter last night:

Was I totally fishing for that? You better believe it. @iamsteranko is Twitter at its best. It’s funny because last time I saw him, he was at an out-of-the-way table at the New York Comic-Con, selling prints and just standing around in a thin gray suit and turltleneck looking like a trim, 1967 superspy. Now, thanks to his Twitter Renaissance, I have no doubt he will be an invited, featured guest at next year’s Comic-Con. All these critics compare my book to Kavalier & Clay saying that Jerry and Joe inspired Chabon’s novel. They really didn’t, at least not that much. Steranko did.

But dumb Twitter-bragging aside, I wasn’t kidding: his History of Comics, Vol. 1 really was my model. I had to save up to buy one on eBay. When I got it, I read the whole thing in one sitting. He made comics history pulpy, a bit dangerous, and inserted a lot of actual narrative (Jerry Siegel woke up…etc. etc.) — that’s the kind of history that I felt really reflected what comics are. Some of the style of my book is in direct homage to him. Not Kavalier & Clay. Steranko also had great, unique discoveries — his stuff on the pulps’ relationship to superheroes is still must-reading. And all this from an artist and storyteller who used to be an escape artist. 

2 thoughts on “Steranko!

  1. J. B. Rund on August 20, 2013 at 8:35 pm said:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    In Superboys, on page 238, you state that Eddie (actually, Edward) Mishkin was the Publisher of Nights of Horror. which is Incorrect. Where did this come from? Mishkin was the Retailer & (Wholesale) Distributor of those Booklets. The Sixteen Volume series was Co-Published by (First Name?) Clancy (Author/Editor) and Eugene Maletta (Printer). The contents of NOH were Rewritten by Clancy from 1930s issues of the Ten (10) Story Book pulp magazines (Detective & Mystery?) and published, two volumes at a time, in a run of one thousand copies each. The first pair was probably produced during the last quarter of 1953. Clancy knew Joe Shuster from the neighborhood and offered him the job of Illustrating the NOH, for $100.00 per Volume. Clancy then took the publications to Times Square, of which he was an habituate. (He collected Flagellation and S/M literature.) He sold Five-Hundred copies of the first two to Edward Mishkin, who eventually Bought the Reminder of the Print Run of each volume. Although Mishkin was certainly involved with Organized Crime (Not General Motors, or any any other big American corporation, but with the so-called Mafia), his alleged involvement with the Gambino Crime Family may not have come about until the mid-70s. Although the name of Dino’s (a Bar) appeared in the 1959 Trial of Mishkin, it was Not identified as belonging to EM. Edward Mishkin was Not identified or prosecuted in the NOH proceedings (Nor were Clancy, Maletta or Shuster), which involved Kingsley Books, a Times Square Book Shop in which EMN was certainly a Partner. There is No evidence that Ernest (“Eric”) Stanton (a friend of mine) ever met Joe Shuster while he attended the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. Stanton, by the way, Never claimed to have co-created Spiderman. He did, however, contribute some elements to the character. In addition, the first three Paragraphs on Page 238 of your Book are Pure Fiction. There is No evidence whatsoever that Shuster had any direct dealings with Mishkin during the publication of NOH., or that he was ever a regular at any of the Times Square Bookshops. (Since he did do later work for some of Mishkin’s publications, particularly the four-page story in It’s Continental #1, it is possible, but it would have been after the fact.)

    By the way, I was the source of the Publishing History of NOH. for Secret Identity. Most, but Not all, of the Information came to me from C.J. Scheiner, a friend who purchased Clancy’s collection many years later but it did Not contain any copies of NOH or similar publications from the 1950s. (Scheiner claimed, both to me as well as to CY, that he didn’t remember Clancy’s name — at all — and to this day, says that he can’t remember his first name!) Since the tale had to be and was Confirmed by CJS, my name was not used. I also told CY where to find Eugene Maletta. (P.S. I also knew Edward Mishkin, who would Never talk about his Publishing activities.)

  2. Hi JB-

    Thanks for reading so closely. Believe me — I know how frustrating it is to read a book about something you are already an expert in.

    Because so much of the Mishkin story is whisper and rumor, I based everything in sources that were closer to primary ones: the court cases, interviews, etc. The court case was, for better or worse, about the only thing I could even begin to trust. I definitely think Joe would have met Stanton at the SVA, but since we can’t know for sure, I said “may” in the book. When dealing with history, and especially with someone like Joe in the 1950s, I made sure to suggest possible ways of connecting the dots to let the reader make up their own mind — when the historical record is muddy, I tried to make the narrative reflect that. Joe is a shadow during the ’50s, so I wrote him as one. Same with the stuff on pg. 238 — as I say in the notes (and see the post above this one), this is a means of getting into Joe’s head a bit. Neither of us knows for sure if Joe went to that store or not, but I had enough evidence (and from a good source) to suggest that he did. And we know he drew the pictures, so that scene — in one way or another — did happen.

    Craig’s book does a great job with Mishkin, plus Jim Linderman’s upcoming book Times Square Smut will be even more definitive, so I focused on Joe.

    But thanks for all your feedback — some of it (the $100 rate, etc.) is brand-new to me. It’s too bad you weren’t credited in Craig’s book because I definitely would have sought you out! Mishkin is a fascinating character — would love to hear you talk more about knowing him. That’s why these books get written — so more people can read and contribute to the story.

    Thanks for reading,
    Brad

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