- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; export ed edition (October 12, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465036562
- ISBN-13: 978-0465036561
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,627,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book Hardcover – International Edition, October 12, 2004
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From The New Yorker
This history of the birth of superhero comics highlights three pivotal figures. The story begins early in the last century, on the Lower East Side, where Harry Donenfeld rises from the streets to become king of the "smooshes"—soft-core magazines with titles like French Humor and Hot Tales. Later, two high-school friends in Cleveland, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, become avid fans of "scientifiction," the new kind of literature promoted by their favorite pulp magazines. The disparate worlds of the wise guy and the geeks collide in 1938, and the result is Action Comics #1, the début of Superman. For Donenfeld, the comics were a way to sidestep the censors. For Shuster and Siegel, they were both a calling and an eventual source of misery: the pair waged a lifelong campaign for credit and appropriate compensation.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
The comic book's early days have received heightened attention in the wake of Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Kavalier and Clay, about the cutthroat businessmen and naive artists who then populated the industry. Although Jones' history limns dozens of the young writers and artists, most from working-class Jewish neighborhoods and many still teenaged, and the bosses who exploited them, its central figures are Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who launched the superhero genre by creating Superman, only to sell the rights to the character for a pittance and spend decades in obscurity and near-poverty. Jones continues the story through the censorship that nearly destroyed the industry in the 1950s to the 1960s superhero revival that continues today. Jones' experience as a comic-book scripter, albeit decades after the period he chronicles, gives him the advantage over most previous writers on the comics milieu, and his vivid writing suits the subject. But it is his impressively thorough research that makes this one of the most valuable books on a distinctively American storytelling form. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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Though I might have wanted to hear more about other creators and companies; and that is not to say you don't; I understand that in such a vast field it is important to provide a focus otherwise the book would have been ten times as long. Sometimes I was aghast at how cut-throat the comic industry could be-this is a warts-and-all story and very worth the time to pursue.
For more information on EC comics which is intertwined with DC comics seek out a copy of the Mad World of Bill Gaines which really goes deeply in ECs history.
This book has introduced me to the inner workings of the "House(s) of Ideas", both those of the creators and the businessmen. It is certainly interesting to find out how such basic concepts as secret identity, origin story, motivation, super-villains and love interests came to be, and what was the business model that would enrich a few managers at the expense of some of the creators. I was aware of the essential "American-ness" of comic books (that was, after all, part of the pleasure they gave to a foreigner in the days before color TV and cheap international travel). "The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay" showed me that this was a particular brand of "American-ness", very deeply interwoven with a particular immigrant experience. "Men of Tomorrow" fleshes out this landscape, and populates it with fascinating characters. Even if you are not a comic book fan, it would be a very enjoyable read, since it is not a book for "geeks" and fleshes out all the stories for a general reader. I give it four stars because it could have used more pictures. Memo for the editors: people who read comics like pictures! Put some in in the next edition.
For history buff, pop culture fans, and, of course, comic book "geeks", this book offers an intimate and sometimes alarming (even depressing) account of the birth of the comic book, the screwing of young talent, the greed of companies, and America itself from the early part of the 20th century almost to today.
3 complaints, and they are each rather minor (since the book held my attention like few others have):
1.) So much attention is spend on 3 or 4 central figures throughout the book that other important creators get the short shift.
2.) Not enough is said about comics from the mid 1970's to today. It is as if the writer shot his wad in research and writing about 4/5ths of the way through the book, then rushed through the rest.
3.) More photographs and art samples would have made this a more complete experience.
Again, if you enjoy American history, popular culture, and/or comic books, this book will hold you in its grip.
Most recent customer reviews
Near the end of Jones’s wonderful account of the origin and history of comic books, Bob Kane, the “creator” of Batman, says, “Let me tell you some...Read more