Thursday, June 07, 2007

Men of Tomorrow -- Gerard Jones

Men of Tomorrow is the story of how comic books came to be. But it's more than that. It's a social history, too, and there's a ton of information about the backgrounds of the creators of the first comics. It also presents the age old story of how the creators are exploited by the money-men.

Two of the men Jones writes about the most are Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, the creators of Superman. The fact that they realized so little money from their character is one of the real shames of the comics industry, but there's plenty more to spread around.

The Golden Age of Comics was pretty much over when I started reading them around 1947, 60 years ago. But I loved them and read all that I could get my hands on. One of the great birthday gifts I ever received was from my aunt. It was a 35mm film can filled with dimes, and on the outside of the can my aunt had taped a note: "Strictly for Funny Books." That was more than 55 years ago, but the memory is clear as a bell. I kept the film can and note for many years.

Reading this book brought back that memory and a lot of others, and naturally I enjoyed it tremendously.
But I do have one complaint. Jones is a good writer in a lot of ways, but there are too many clunkers along the way. For example, this one: "The lead character was a crime fighter in a mask, fedora, and a three-piece suit called the Sprirt." Which of course leads me to ask, "But what were the mask and the fedora called?" Probably just an old English teacher's quibble, and it doesn't change the fact that Men of Tomorrow is a fascinating history. Check it out.


TM said...

There are apparently a lot of clunkers in the facts as presented, as discussed on several mailing lists...bobbles on the Gernsback family, among others...

Bill Crider said...

That kind of thing is a bit more serious than the clunker I pointed out.