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Siegel and Shuster's Funnyman: The First Jewish Superhero, from the Creators of Superman Paperback – July 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House; Reprint edition (July 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932595783
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932595789
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 7.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review


"…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

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Schienke on July 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have no one to blame but myself.

If you are a comic book fan/historian, you probably appreciate that we are in a Golden Age of comic-book reprinting. I look on the shelves behind me and I see the complete Spirit in 26 volumes, Joe Kubert's Tor from the 1950s, multiple volumes of Dr. Solar and Magnus, Robot Fighter, and well over 100 hardcover and paperback reprinting of classic material from DC and Marvel.

When I saw the solicitation for "Siegel and Shuster's Funnyman," I believed that what was being offered was another collection of rare comic books. How wrong I was. Oh, there are a few stories from the short run the character had in the comic-book format and a story from its comic-strip run, but the bulk of the book is a history of Jewish comedy along with related articles. Not that the articles are uninteresting, but they are not the reason I bought this book and I have a feeling there are books out there that better address that history.

Maybe I was wrong for reading too much into the description with regard to this book being a complete reprinting of the Siegel and Shuster's Funnyman, but reading the description now that I have the book the hand, I see nothing that would lead me to expect this book. The few Funnyman stories included raise my rating of the book to "two stars."
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Parreira on July 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am not a comic book person, actually. This book is so much more than that. Just the drama of Siegel and Shuster's most terrible deal with DC is tragic/comic enough for a Coen brothers flick. But, the insightful discussion of Jewish humor is both thoughtful and thorough. I was entertained and educated. Can't beat that.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eustacia Vye on July 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book aspires to show the cultural influences that shaped Siegel and Shuster's Funnyman comic. It succeeds and then some. It also shows the forces behind the creation of Superman and the struggle Siegel and Shuster went through to create their visions. The essays are well written, insightful, original and enlightening and the graphics are AMAZING! This is a great book for any Superman fan or Judaica and vaudeville history buff.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the initiated Jerry Siegel and Jerry Shuster were the co-creators of Superman the most important and iconic character in the history of the medium. Unfortunately, that accomplishment did not lead to the fame and fortune that they anticipated. After a failed legal attempt to regain the rights to their creation they were dismissed by the publisher.

Fortunately, for them they had offers from other publishers and immediately embarked on a new creation. This book describes their most ambitious post-Superman project.
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