From Publishers Weekly
In 1948 Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the bitterly disenfranchised cocreators of Superman, attempted to recapture success by launching the comedic superhero "Funnyman." The comic book series, which also spawned a short-lived newspaper strip, was a flop, lasting only six issues, and is regarded as a footnote. In this volume, Gordon and Andrae attempt to make much of the fact that this footnote wears clown shoes, positioning Funnyman as "the first Jewish superhero." Gordon's lengthy disquisition on the roots of Jewish humor opens the book. Though full of fascinating facts and images, the essay is fragmentary and poorly organized, and the implicit relationship to Funnyman is often strained. Andrae is on firmer ground with his analysis of Superman and Funnyman as twin offspring of two Jewish phenomena: the strongman and the schlemiel. Unfortunately, the book reprints fewer than 40 pages from the series' six issues, alongside excerpts from the strip. One suspects some editorial embarrassment that Siegel and Shuster's stilted attempt at heroic slapstick fails to entirely live up to the claims made on its behalf. A fuller presentation would have permitted readers to better consider those points that do seem apt.
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"…Funnyman’s immediate historical relevance is as the character Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created as their follow-up to Superman, but underlying that is a point of larger cultural importance. Andrae and Gordon approach the character as the most straightforward expression of Jewishness in comics at the time, and as a springboard to a wider discussion of the history of Jewish humor…Funnyman was the result of Siegel and Shuster turning a specific ethnic style into a more universal one. Funnyman might come from Jewish tradition, but in comics form he becomes any goofy guy who has to stand up against brute force of any sort. He’s far more reflective of the reading audience, as well as the creators, than Superman ever was, though Clark Kent was an attempt to rectify that. The Yiddishisms might have whispered to one audience, but the 'schlemiel' is something many people can identify with…" — Publishers Weekly