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Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster--the Creators of Superman Hardcover – June 4, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Spanning nearly a century, this is the story of a would-be sf writer and tireless self-promoter (Siegel) and his more subdued but very talented schoolmate (Shuster), who created a superhero and, quite by accident, kick-started the immature comic-book industry and revolutionized sf. Then, thanks to one ill-considered decision made before anybody knew how popular or profitable Superman was going to be, they nearly lost all connection to the hero they’d created. Ricca reveals the true story of Superman’s creation (the Man of Steel was the product of roughly equal parts imagination and clever repurposing of preexisting ideas) and goes into great detail about Siegel and Shuster’s protracted, often heartbreaking legal battle to reclaim ownership of their character. After the pair’s contract to produce Superman stories expired, Shuster faded into relative obscurity, but Siegel kept his hand in the comics industry, even returning to the Superman character in the late 1950s as an uncredited scripter. Ricca tells their post-Superman stories with compassion and just a hint of righteous indignation. How dare Superman’s publishers, who were making millions of dollars, cast aside his creators? At the end of this account, when Siegel’s and Shuster’s names are finally restored to the character, four decades after his creation, readers might find themselves leaping out of their chairs and cheering. A wonderful book, as exciting as Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), which was, of course, inspired by Siegel and Shuster, and as gripping as Sean Howe’s excellent Marvel Comics: The Untold Story (2012). --David Pitt


A wonderful book, as exciting as Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. (Booklist, starred boxed review)

"An admirably thorough account of Siegel and Shuter's long struggle to get their creation published...That they came up with the first bona fide superhero, thus helping change popular culture and sowing the seeds of a multi-million dollar industry, is a remarkable accomplishment, which Ricca recounts grippingly." - The New York Times Book Review

"Compulsively readable... Ricca's comprehensive biography reveals the turmoil and creative genius that led to our most enduring superhero, the Man of Steel." - Publishers Weekly

"Thoroughly researched... speaks to the treatment of artists by corporate America and its relationship to truth and justice. Written in a breezy, accessible style, this title will have wide appeal, especially to those whose views on the American way were shaped by comics, television shows, and movies featuring the Man of Steel. (Library Journal)

The title Super Boys says it all . . . the truly amazing biography of two of the most important names in popular fiction. (Stan Lee)

An American icon drawn with compassion and verve. A must read for heroes everywhere. (Jeph Loeb, author of Superman For All Seasons and writer/producer of Smallville)

No square panels or word balloons can contain Ricca's gripping effervescence: it's headier than a bird or a plane or a speeding bullet. (Tracy Daugherty, author of Just One Catch)

"Beautiful and heartbreaking." (Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author)

As a citizen of the modern world, you need to read this book. (Neal Adams)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312643802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312643805
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brad Ricca is the author of Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster - The Creators of Superman (St. Martin's, 2013), the first literary biography of the two creators of Superman, the world's most iconic superhero. The book was named a Top 10 Book on the Arts for 2013 by Booklist and has been translated into different languages, including German and Chinese. Ricca won the St. Lawrence Book Award for his first book of poetry, American Mastodon (Black Lawrence Press, 2011) which was featured on A Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. Ricca is a winner of a 2014 Cleveland Arts Prize for Emerging Artist in Literature. He was born, lives, and works in Cleveland, teaching at both Case Western Reserve University as a SAGES Fellow and at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

"I first got into this story when I was a kid in Cleveland and my Dad -- who sold windows -- drove my brother and I around downtown. We lived in the suburbs and to us, Cleveland was this big, half-exploded, almost abandoned civilization. When my Dad would tell us, from the front seat of the old blue station wagon, that Superman was created in Cleveland, I thought he was telling us the greatest lie ever told. It couldn't be true. Superman from Cleveland? That question stayed with me a long time until I just had to know. I had to know how they did it."

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Raymond A. Cuthbert on June 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster The Creators of Superman by Brad Ricca (St. Martin's Press, 2013).

In the promotional blurbs about this fine book, we read "Super Boys explains, finally, what exactly happened with the infamous check for $130 that pulled Superman away from his creators--and gave control of the character to the publisher. Ricca also uncovers the true nature of Jerry's father's death, a crime that has always remained a mystery. Super Boys is the story of a long friendship between boys who grew to be men and the standard that would be impossible for both of them to live up to. " Marketing testimonials from Stan Lee, Jeph Loeb, Tracy Daugherty, Brad Meltzer and Neal Adams assure the reader that this is a book not to be missed, and I whole-heartedly agree.

This book is the kind of book any comic book biographer ought to aspire to write. The main text of book itself is 331 pages in length with an additional staggering 69 pages of notes (they would have been footnotes if they were on the bottom of the pages for which they are the references), a four page Bibliography and a sixteen page Index.

Because of its careful annotations, it is a goldmine of information on the two seminal creators of the character who is inarguably one of the most important fictional characters of the 20th Century. Much of the information was culled from primary sources - i.e. first-hand research, but this is not to say that Ricca has ignored secondary sources, either. For example, Ricca uses up-to-date information from Daniel Best's The Trial of Superman (2012) and his 28th and final chapter is immeasurably helped by it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Al Hence on October 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book should have been great, but (thanks mostly to abysmal editing) its only OK. The author deserves considerable respect for the enormous amount of time and effort that went into this project. He researched just about every relevant source and talked to everybody that would talk to him. The result should have been the definitive work on the subject. Everybody that cares knows the basic background: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two guys just out of high school, created Superman and most of the central characters (e.g. Lois Lane) in 1937-38. Not realizing what they had, they sold all rights to a publishing syndicate for $130. They then spent the rest of their lives in and out of court trying to get a share of the mega-millions other people reaped from their creation. Ricca expands enormously on this outline with a wealth of detail and some interesting speculation on the psyco-social aspects of the whole affair. The problem is that all this information (some of it wonderful) is all kludged together in a 423 page text that reads like a hasty re-write of a PhD thesis. It is full of odd usage, awkward structure and poor continuity. It is also repetitious and inconsistent in spots as if the author had forgotten what he had written earlier. As a result it is only marginally readable. Valuable nuggets (and there are many) are buried in mounds of trivia without any clear distinction. A good hard scrub by a professional editor would have clarified the continuity, highlighted the main points and moved a lot of the trivia to end-notes. The result would have been a five star success.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard Masloski on July 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I can't recall the last time I so thoroughly enjoyed reading a book. Brad Ricca's SUPER BOYS is a beautiful book to hold and behold - and what a read! A genuine page-turner! The story of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's creation of Superman - and how that creation led to the veritable destruction of the can-do spirits of these two inestimably important men - is herein told vibrantly and elegantly and so very passionately. As another reviewer on these boards said, this tale would make a terrific movie! Too bad some of the mega-millions that were poured to excess into the latest incarnation of the Man of Steel in the current movie wasn't utilized to put the Siegel and Shuster saga on screen. It is a compelling, incredible rags to riches to rags again tale. But then again, big bucks never gravitated towards the Super Boys. Heck, Marlon Brando got 3.7 million for a week's worth on the Chris Reeve flick, this while Siegel and Shuster were still very much alive - but the Artists who brought Kal-El to this great green Earth got, at the most, what Ralph Kramden would have called "A bag of peanuts...a mere bag of shells." But even though they received so little pecuniary reward in this life, the Super Boys have herein been given something perhaps much more rewarding in the long run - and that is a superlative, dual biography of their topsy-turvy life and times.

A caveat or two, however. Amongst the book's photographs is a picture of Joe Shuster and sister Jean with Chris Reeve at the premiere of SUPERMAN, the movie. Yet nowhere in the book do we learn anything whatsoever about what the Super Boys even thought of the film or its star. Or what did they think of the George Reeves' TV series and the alleged suicide of that star?
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