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It's a Bird Paperback – March 1, 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The first rule of metafiction: stories about how the author can't think of what to write about are a bad idea. So a story about a comics writer named Steve who's been assigned to write Superman comics but can't come up with a way to write them seems unpromising. (Seagle wrote the Supermancomic for several years.) But Seagle and artist Kristiansen (with whom he collaborated on a couple of excellent House of Secrets books) come through. This isn't a Superman story, exactly; it's an experimental, refracted, semifictional memoir, with Superman-or, rather, the variety of ideas that Superman represents-as its central symbol. Kristiansen's inventive ink-and-watercolor artwork, a bit reminiscent of the Expressionist painter Egon Schiele, gives a crisp, arty look to the sections about Steve's progressively more messed-up personal life and family secret. (The latter has to do with Huntington's disease, the discussion of which here approaches Very Special Episode territory.) Both writer and artist shine on the sections that explore Steve's thoughts about what Superman means: Nietzschean übermensch, synthesizer of primary colors' symbolism, embodiment of benevolent violence, alien who's accepted where others aren't, etc. Kristiansen devises a distinct visual technique for each, often inspired by other 20th-century painters. It's a sweet, clever meditation on what makes the concept of Superman so powerful, and the troubled relationship between powerful concepts and creative narrative.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A quarter-century after Harvey Pekar began American Splendor, autobiographical comics are more a cliche than a novelty, unless they come from a mainstream comic-book publisher and depict a superhero-comics creator's life. When Seagle was offered the chance to write Superman, his surprising response was to reject the plum assignment, contending that he couldn't relate to the unbelievable character. But the refusal coincided with other crises: his father's disappearance, his girlfriend's desire to have children, and, looming over all, the grim prospect of developing Huntington's disease, which had struck other family members. Kristiansen's expert illustration in a variety of styles adds a polish that smooths over the awkward passages in Seagle's sometimes overearnest script. Hardcore alternative-comics devotees may find this effort too slick and self-indulgent; superhero fans probably won't even bother to pick it up. Comics readers with a foot in both camps, however, will recognize Seagle as facing, albeit more urgently than most others, the kinds of questions every grown-up, including those still open to the adolescent charms of superheroes, confronts. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401203116
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401203115
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John on June 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have an affection for comic books but haven't kept up with the various graphic novels. I heard a radio spot on this book and was intrigued. The story has a real emotional kick that I suspect will be relevant for many people. I read it for Father's Day and couldn't help but reflect on the message that this has about the decision to have children as well as the many other thoughts that are expressed about how we choose to live our lives. Variously introspective and contemplative about the world condition, the book grabs our interest with both ideas and art. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Steven Seagle presents a wonderful journey into the mind of a writer and the search for meaning in an iconic character that has almost lost meaning as being the ultimate American hero. The author takes issue with the "reality" behind the fantasy and ends up seeing the strengths and the beauty behind Clark Kent/Superman/Kal-El.

The art is whispy yet strong and striking. An oddity in modern superhero comics and manga influnced books, which is a shame.

A very entertaining and enlightening book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the autobiographical story of writer Steven T. Seagle's struggle with an offer to write one of the monthly Superman comics. Why the struggle? Seagle has associated Superman with a disease that runs in his family. He resents Superman's perfection in relation to the slow, nasty death he fears awaits him. Despite being annoyed by the patent irrationality of resenting a fictional character, and the self pity about possibly dying of this disease (few folks' death is actually pleasant, after all), I found myself respecting the book for the skill with which the story was told. It's not easy to get inside a character's head the way this book does. Seagle's words are honest, and the art work is very expressive.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very personal take on the concept of a Superhero and what it means told in a semi autobiographical manner by the author. While facing a family tragedy that may also impact his future the protagonist comic writer is offered "the chance of a lifetime" to write for Superman. Contemplating mortality while considering the ultimate invulnerable hero offers a depth of contemplation which is unusual even in mature graphic novels. The art is correspondingly interesting, often suggesting the figures rather than laying them out clearly, as the entire novel is an exercise in ambiguity. If you can handle the heavy subject matter this is a very grown up contemplation on many of the big issues we live with.
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Format: Paperback
It’s a dream assignment for many comics writers: a call from DC with the offer to write Superman! The most iconic superhero of all time, Superman is a legendary character whose symbol is recognised across the globe and whose story is known by millions. After 75 years, Superman continues to endure and, thanks to a new wave of movies, is more popular than ever. What an opportunity for any writer to add to the character!

That is, if the writer has a storyline to offer - which Steven Seagle doesn’t, both in the book and actually. His character in the book is basically him, an artsy-fartsy comics writer who dabbles with commercial comics to pay the bills. He read a Superman comic when he was a kid and then avoided them ever since, reading “proper” books instead. The book follows Seagle’s attempts to figure out a way in to the character, as well as talking about a genetic illness that plagues his family: Huntington’s Disease.

The fact that this is published by Vertigo, DC’s indie arm, should tell you this isn’t going to be your regular Superman book. Superman is a background detail mentioned in passing here and there and the main story is Seagle and Huntington’s Disease. And it’s a horrifying illness. It cripples the mind and body, sends the sufferer into involuntary seizures, and slowly kills you; there is no cure.

Seagle’s grandmother died of it, his aunt is currently stricken with it and he fears that he’s in line to receive it, though he’s told it skips generations. That angle of the book is interesting if depressing. Seagle becomes a human being and his actions are understandable from this perspective, even if he comes off as a thoroughly unpleasant and pretentious man throughout.
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By Michael on December 3, 2015
Format: Paperback
To be clear, this is not a Superman story. This is about a comic book writer and his feelings towards Superman.

This autobiographical story starts with Steven T. Seagle being offered the chance to write Superman by his editor. Throughout the book he struggles to find something about the character he can relate to, an "in" for the story. His attempts to zero in on exactly what he doesn't like bring about short dissections of all things Superman: his costume, powers, origins, etc, each serving as parallel to the real events occurring in his life. While these didn't emotionally grab me, I still enjoyed seeing him work through the problems, with all the kinks and errant thoughts that accompany trying to figure an issue out. However, as this is from 2004 and most of these critiques have been shared and adopted by people who never really had them in the first place, nothing here is new or insightful. Visit any comment section about Superman today and people can't wait to tell you how they "can't relate to a character who's so perfect."

Peppered lightly through his agonizing are nods to how much comics have changed, how people view them, and what they --and their heroes-- are expected to be versus what they are. And while the main character is very cynical, the book itself isn't. For sure there's judgement concerning Superman, but it's never done in a way that forces the reader to agree; we understand that this is the character's point of view and not one we're necessarily expected to adopt. This is a story of expression, not education.
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