Thursday, March 28, 2013
Celebrating Comics' Super Boys
(St. Martin’s Press, $27.99 - scheduled for early June release)
Comics creators have been the subject of all too few biographies. Of those biographies that have been written, most are little more than chronicles of the writer or artist’s professional accomplishments. That’s not the case with Super Boys; Brad Ricca presents readers with a portrait of the people behind the greatest superhero icon the medium has ever known.
From their early days as high school students and avid science fiction readers through their glory days as the most famous creators in comics to their years in virtual creative exile to the final reconciliations and recognitions that left them happy in their final years, Super Boys is the story of two men who shared a dream that ultimately got away from them.
What makes Super Boys distinctive is the passion that Ricca brings to the book. He obviously cares for the two men whose lives he researched with such dedication—in fact, he cares intensely. He wants to know not just what they did, but how they felt, how their shaped by their creation. He wants to know about their personal successes and failures as well—and he shares all of that with his readers with the deft skill of a novelist bringing characters to life on the page.
Along the way, Ricca makes some fascinating discoveries: Jerry Siegel’s last unpublished story, buried in editor Julius Schwartz’s desk; the truth about the death of Michel Siegel, Jerry’s father; the origins of Lois Lane’s name.
But the most memorable aspect of Super Boys is not the discoveries, but the way Ricca brings these two men to life. We share in their exuberance as Superman is accepted, we witness their frustration and anger as the character slips away from them; we understand the acceptance and satisfaction that they found in their final years, as well as the creative sparks that never burned out.
Super Boys treats its subjects with the sort of respect and insightful analysis that is usually reserved for the Picassos and Hemingways and Fitzgeralds of the world; it’s fitting that Siegel and Shuster should receive such treatment.