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Superman: The Complete History- The Life and Times of the Man of Steel Paperback – June, 2004
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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While comic books trace their origins to the late 19th century, Superman, who debuted in 1938's Action Comics #1, is virtually synonymous with the medium. Yet, as Superman, the Complete History shows, the Man of Steel has also made a lasting impact in comic strips, film, toys, TV, radio, and even on Broadway. In this beautifully composed volume, Les Daniels collects rare and never-before-seen early artwork by Superman's teenage creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (including a two-page doodle from 1936 featuring early Superman costume designs), and he chronicles the evolution of the character from an orphan alien comics hero to a complex multimedia icon. Entire pages are devoted to photographs of the various costumes worn by TV and film incarnations, of numerous action figures and related toys, and of movie poster and stills. Several comics stories are also reproduced in their entirety.
Almost as impressive as the stunning art design is Daniels's narrative: covering the 60 years from 1938 to 1998, he collects interviews with several writer-artist teams that detail the changes in the Man of Steel and his relationships with Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor, and Perry White. Daniels's examination of the "Death of Superman" story arc, in particular, is a fascinating study of Superman's commercial and archetypal appeal. The final pages preview Superman tales by Barry Windsor-Smith and Alex Ross (whose beautiful painted graphic novel Kingdom Come turned many heads), and the hardback cover holds a special surprise underneath its paper wrap. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
YA-From the creation of "the man of steel" by teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster through the decades of comic books, cartoons, movies, and theater productions featuring the prototype of the American superhero, this book serves fans, historians, and artists. Liberally illustrated with reprinted comic-book pages, full-color photos of licensed and unlicensed toys and other paraphernalia, costumes, and storyboard panels, the text is well researched and neatly elaborated. Various sidebars explore the concept of pulp fiction, the appearance of Superman on the I Love Lucy TV show, the collaboration between DC and Marvel in celebration of the nation's Bicentennial, and other elements of 20th-century popular culture that bear on the Superman story. Daniels clearly is a fan, but this work is not partisan. He demystifies complications arising from artistic contracts, personalities, and political weather. The format is excellent, with color reproduction accurate and placement of images either simply judicious or aesthetically appealing as well. With the exception of omitting how Christopher Reeve's career was changed by his accident, Daniels follows each person concerned with the Superman story through to a satisfying denouement. He does a credible job whether he is discussing drawing, writing, acting, or the business of entertainment and its promotion.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Daniels goes onto to show how Superman was a smashing success right out of the gate and would go onto conquer virtually every form of media of the day including newspaper strips, animated shorts, movie serials, feature films, radio, TV, and incredible merchandising. Daniels traces Superman's adventures from the enemy-smashing efforts of WWII, to the ridiculous, often silly stories of the 1950's, to Superman's death and eventual resurrection in the 1990's. Daniels traces all those others who were key in making Superman the American Icon he has become, particularly the late Julius Schwartz who basically created the Silver Age of comics and guided superman for years and artists the late Wayne boring the primary superman artist after Shuster and through the mid-1950's, and the late Curt Swan who took over in the mid-1950's and was the primary artist on Superman for the next thirty years.
But the book isn't all about the comic books. We'll see Superman in the great Fleischer cartoons of the 1940's, his early film appearances by Kirk Alyn, and then on TV with George Reeves...Heck there was even a Superman musical in the 1960's. Superman would be re-vitalized in the 1970's when Christopher Reeves played the Man of Steel in four big-screen films before the character would return to TV in the romantic Lois and Clark, and the new look at Clark Kent as a young man in the smash hit "Smallville". Daniels covers it all including the wonderful animated series on WB, and the controversies surrounding Superman's "death" and resurrection and eventual marriage to Lois Lane. Daniels leaves no stone unturned, even providing great photos of vintage and current Superman toys and other collectibles.
Siegel and Shuster are given their proper due for the creation of Superman, but it was an entire host of talented writers, artists, actors, animators, and directors that have turned the character into the legend that he has become. This is a terrific book for any fan of the character. Well-written and researched.