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Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book Paperback – October 11, 2005
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The dense, dangerous world of early 20th century New York is perhaps the most emotive and Jones expertly draws the reader into the world of the street gangs and Prohibition era alliances that gave birth to the Jewish dominated New York mob. His portrait of Harry Donenfeld is as an opportunistic, if charismatic, rogue and he portrays Liebowitz as a humourless straight man - a real-life double act. By contrast Cleveland comes across as an icon of suburban American life and we get a real sense of Jerry Siegel's childhood - including the revelation that Siegel's father had been murdered. Of the four leads Joe Shuster remains the most enigmatic.
Woven through the these histories are the side stories of the elder and younger Gaines, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Julius Schwartz, Mort Weisinger, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, and a host of other names. Most of them were from the same generation, most of them were Jewish and most of them were drawn to New York by a powerful new medium. Something Jones doesn't do is to carry the sense of the Jewishness much further.Read more ›
Jones also profiles Bob Kane of Batman fame (portrayed as a less than admirable figure) and Stan Lee, impresario of the Marvel superheroes, like Spider-Man and the Hulk.
But this is not a gee-whiz comic book portrayal, or a series of personality profiles. This is rich cultural history brought to life. By following these characters, readers will learn as much about Prohibition and the Depression, and what it was like for immigrants scrapping to make it in the teeming cities. Perhaps among the surprises is the involvement of gangsters in the success of the crime-fighting superheroes.
Jones shows how the superheroes established the comic book in American culture, as a kind of combination of several genres: the daily newspaper comic strips (so popular and important in immigrant life---as well as a way that many immigrants learned English), and the similarly popular crime and science fiction pulp magazines.
This book's publicity calls it "A real-life Kavalier and Clay." I read it just after reading that mesmerizing Michael Chabon novel, and though this non-fiction book is mostly about a different era, it also tells an engrossing story very well. I was also impressed by the author's care in telling what is known, what is generally believed but doesn't quite check out, and what is still speculation.
That's the concluding paragraph from the Prologue to Gerard Jones' Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book. It pretty much sums up the thesis of the book--that the men who created comic books (and he includes the businessmen and editors as much as the writers and artists) created much that we think of as modern popular entertainment.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author's over-enthusiastic style (the paean to the funnies on page 68 is off the scale) made me initially wary (sometimes less is more, 'struck a deep chord' is no more potent... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso'
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. The writing was good for the kost part and ecen entertaining. Mostly about DC, but some mentions of Marvel and even underground comix. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Angela Boyle
An incisive, no-holds barred history of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, creators of Superman, their indelible mark on American culture and how corporate forces profited by robbing... Read morePublished 19 months ago by A Reader
An excellent, excellent history of the men and the milleu of the Golden Age of Comics...Siegel, Shuster, Kane, Kirby, and more. Read it and you'll absorb the past.Published 20 months ago by Kindle Customer
I read this a few months before I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and I think I benefited from it. Read morePublished on October 13, 2013 by D. J. Foster
Men of Tomorrow is one of those rare books that earns the cliché statement: I couldn't put it down. I picked this up on a whim, and I immediately found myself engrossed. Read morePublished on August 27, 2013 by Brandon J. Smith
This is a hell of book.
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