Saturday, August 22, 2009

Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book

This is a meticulously researched and fascinating account of the origins of comics. It is part journalism, part social history, part biography, and part mystery. The connection between the comics, the pulps, pornography and organised crime is disturbing but like a road accident as much as it repels you, you can't look away. The human interest element lies in the tragic injustice perpetrated on Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, the kids who created Superman and the disintegration of Seigel into old age, nursing anger and bitter resentment at the suits in the industry who ripped him off so badly. There's a screenplay hidden in here, if this could be given the kind of noir treatment found in the excellent biopic of TV Superman George Reeves, "Hollywoodland." There is some brief interesting material here on Marvel creators like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby but it's primary focus is on DC/National Comics. Once having read this it is hard to read a Golden or Silver Age comic as an innocent piece of naive entertainment. Once known, the human cost behind all that spilt ink is hard to shake off.

3 comments:

Sing Chee said...

yes I've seen this around but never got around to reading it. Should pick it up one day.

Ross said...

You'd have to agree that Siegel and Shuster weren't treated very well. Were you aware of this story?

http://www.superherohype.com/news/supermannews.php?id=8614

Glen O'Brien said...

Jesse mentioned it to me just yesterday. I hadn't read anything about it though so thanks for the link.

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