Monday, May 30, 2011

Creators of the Superheroes by Thomas Andrae

Creators of the Superheroes Interviews and Commentary about Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Jack Kirby, and Will Eisner by Thomas Andrae

This book gives a very close look at the personal stories behind the creation of the first superheroes; Batman, Superman, Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and others.  It is more than just about the art of the comics, it is about how the comic business was created.  The book fits in with other books printed by Hermes Press which has many reprints and biographical works on early comics.

The life stories in this book are often tragic.  Bill Finger one of the first writers of Batman got very little credit and died destitute.  The artists often got very little money from doing comics, most of it went to the publishers.   Most of the artists worked on a commission per page.  Unless you were Jack Kirby and had a solid business sense and a huge readership, or Will Eisner who ran his own company, there was very little money as a comic books artist.

There are many interesting details in the book.  I like the photographs and drawings of the women who inspired the creation of Lois Lane.  The book has over 400 illustrations in it.  It is also a coffee table size book.  Many of the images are photographs of the artists life, original comic book panels, and pictures from movies or films.  Jack Kirby, Jerry Siegel, and Joe Shuster were movie buffs.  Also Batman and Superman were made into films.

The majority of the text in this book is interviews. A lot of this is about the creative process in making comics.  It also has quite a bit about the artists personal lives.  Thrown in are interesting tidbits like the name Clark Kent is a combination of the movie actors, Clark Gable and Kent Taylor, and Batman's cape was designed after Leonardo's DaVinci's flying machine.

I especially liked the section on Will Eisner.  Will Eisner is considered the creator of the first graphic novel, A Contract With God.  He is also credited with making strong efforts to turn comics into an art form for adults.  He wrote comics as instruction manuals for the army.  This makes his approach different.

This is a fantastic book with beautiful illustrations, excellent interviews, and unique content.  If you are interested in the history of comics you should read this.

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