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Men of Tomorrowby Gerard Jones
Synopses & Reviews
By the author of The Comic Book Heroes, Killing Monsters, and scores of successful comic books and screenplays, Men of Tomorrow is the first book to tell the surprising story of the young Jewish misfits, hustlers and nerds who invented the superhero and the comic book industry. Among the characters in this vibrant panorama:
Drawing on exhaustive research, including interviews with friends and relatives of the creators, Jones reveals how the immigrant experience and the collision of Yiddish and American culture — forged in the crucible of two world wars — shaped the vision of the make-believe hero. He chronicles how the comics sparked a frightened counter-attack that nearly destroyed the industry in the 1950s and how later they surged back at an underground level, to inspire a new generation to transmute those long-ago fantasies into art, literature, blockbuster movies and graphic novels.
Animated by the stories of some of the last century's most charismatic and conniving artists, writers and businessmen, Men of Tomorrow brilliantly demonstrates how the creators of the superheroes gained their cultural power and established a crucial place in the modern imagination.
"[T]his punchy new history dives right into that world of brawny, ridiculous heroics and implausible scenarios with commendable and unapologetic gusto....Bold and brassy, with a solid grasp of its material." Kirkus Reviews
"[Jones'] 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." Booklist
"Jones does a better job of tracing the growth of comic books as a business than as an aesthetic or cultural phenomenon....Men of Tomorrow is an interesting study of the origins of the comic book but by no means a definitive one." Los Angeles Times
Book News Annotation:
Jones was a comic book writer once himself, but now focuses on literary studies and teaching writing. Here he digs beneath the legends, drunken stories, and public relations to talk about the early days of comic books, including of course the scandals.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A real-life Kavalier and Clay, the first full-scale history of superhero comic books reveals how ambitious crooks and adolescent dreamers created a new art form and forever changed the entertainment business in America. Cover design by Chip Kidd.
This full-scale history of superhero comic books reveals how ambitious crooks and adolescent dreamers created a new art form and forever changed the entertainment business in America. 12 halftones.
The fascinating and heartbreaking true story of the goniffs, shmendricks, and shlemiels who gave birth to the superhero comics-written with all the verve and velocity of a golden age comic book.-Art Spiegelman
Animated by the stories of some of the last century's most charismatic and conniving artists, writers, and businessmen, Men of Tomorrow brilliantly demonstrates how the creators of the superheroes gained their cultural power and established a crucial place in the modern imagination. "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 the 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 debut 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." -The New Yorker
About the Author
Gerard Jones's previous books include Killing Monsters, The Comic Book Heroes, Honey I'm Home: Sitcoms Selling the American Dream. His work has appeared in Harper's, The New York Times, and other publications. He is also a former comic-book and screen writer whose credits include Batman, Spider-Man, and Pokemon, and whose own creations have been turned into video games and cartoon series. More recently he has developed the Art & Story Workshops for children and adolescents. Jones is the founder of Media Power for Children and serves on the advisory board of the Comparative Media Studies Program at M.I.T. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and son.
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