Catering to comics junkies, this vibrant and well-researched picture book biography introduces the youthful inventors of Superman, who this year celebrates his 70th anniversary. Writer Jerry Siegel and illustrator Joe Shuster are mild-mannered everymen whose reflective glasses conceal their eyes-and their potential. In a crowded high school hallway, Jerry wishes he could be with his "friends," and a turn of the page reveals Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Joe, "lousy at sports and mousy around girls," draws sci-fi heroes with a passion. In 1934, when both are 20, Jerry dreams up the Superman concept and Joe draws prototypes labeled "S" for " 'super.' And for 'Siegel' and 'Shuster.' " In June 1938, their creation launches in Action Comics. Nobleman details this achievement with a zest amplified by MacDonald's (Another Perfect Day) punchy illustrations, done in a classic litho palette of brassy gold, antique blue and fireplug red. MacDonald's Depression-era vignettes picture Siegel pondering his superhero's powers and the friends casting a single, caped shadow. A cautionary afterword chronicles their protracted financial struggles with DC Comics-when Siegel and Shuster sold their first Superman story, they also sold all rights to the character, for $130. Ages 10-up. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Boys of Steel: The Creators of Supermanby Marc Tyler Nobleman, Ross Macdonald, Ross MacDonald
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two high school misfits in Depression-era Cleveland, were more like Clark Kent--meek, mild, and myopic--than his secret identity, Superman. Both boys escaped into the worlds of science fiction and pulp magazine adventure tales. Jerry wrote his own original stories and Joe illustrated them. In 1934, the summer they graduated from high
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two high school misfits in Depression-era Cleveland, were more like Clark Kent--meek, mild, and myopic--than his secret identity, Superman. Both boys escaped into the worlds of science fiction and pulp magazine adventure tales. Jerry wrote his own original stories and Joe illustrated them. In 1934, the summer they graduated from high school, they created a superhero who was everything they were not. It was four more years before they convinced a publisher to take a chance on their Man of Steel in a new format--the comic book. The author includes a provocative afterword about the long struggle Jerry and Joe had with DC Comics when the boys realized they had made a mistake in selling all rights to Superman for a mere $130.
Nobleman portrays teenaged Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as outcasts who found solace in the world of pulp magazines and comics. Their peers did not understand their fascination with tales of musclemen and detectives with gadgets, and their teachers deemed the stories that they loved to write and illustrate "trash." Despite these obstacles, the two friends continued writing and illustrating, and in 1934, Siegel had an avalanche of ideas about a new type of hero that he then shared with Shuster, who drew the first concept illustrations of Superman. It took another four years, however, before the superhero would make his public debut in Action Comics #1. MacDonald's illustrations are a tribute to 1930s pulp art, from the lines of the characters outlined in brown to the washes of yellow in the background. While the layout remains primarily in picture-book format, comic-book elements appear sporadically, such as with phrases separated from the rest of the text and placed in oval bubbles. One spread also uses panels to depict Siegel's thoughts as he conceptualized Superman. The story ends with the young men successfully landing a publisher. The afterword fills in more of the details, including Siegel and Shuster's long-running battle with DC Comics for a greater share of the profits, how their Jewish background affected Superman during World War II, and their final years. Boys of Steel is a solid introduction to the history of Superman's creation, especially for children who find an outlet in storytelling and art.-Kim T. Ha, Elkridge Branch Library, MD
“[T]his robust treatment does [Shuster and Siegel’s] story justice.”
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2008:
"The battle for truth and justice is truly never-ending."
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 23, 2008:
“Nobleman details this achievement with a zest amplified by MacDonald's … punchy illustrations.”
Meet the Author
MARC TYLER NOBLEMAN grew up thinking he'd become a superhero because his last name already sounded like one. Instead he turned into a writer and cartoonist and a comic book maven. In researching Boys of Steel, he dug up details about the creators of Superman that have not been in a book before.
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'Boys of Steel' is filled with delightful, colorful illustrations, and an easy-to-read text, making it perfect for kids age 4 and up. It tells the little known story of the two 'geeky' teenaged boys from Cleveland--Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster--who were ignored and picked on by their peers at school,and who channeled their frustrations into creating 'scienti-fiction' stories. Looking to popular films and magazines of the time (Depression Era, 1930's), they drew inspiration from Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Doc Savage--and created the world's first comic book super-hero: SUPERMAN.