Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, the Avengers, the X-Men, Watchmen, and more: the companion volume to the PBS documentary series of the same name that tells the story of the superhero in American popular culture.
Together again for the first time, here come the greatest comic book superheroes ever assembled between two covers: down from the heavens - Superman and the Mighty Thor - or swinging over rooftops - the Batman and Spider-Man; star-spangled, like Captain America and Wonder Woman, or clad in darkness, like the Shadow and Spawn; facing down super-villains on their own, like the Flash and the Punisher or gathered together in a team of champions, like the Avengers and the X-Men!
Based on the three-part PBS documentary series Superheroes, this companion volume chronicles the never-ending battle of the comic book industry, its greatest creators, and its greatest creations. Covering the effect of superheroes on American culture - in print, on film and television, and in digital media - and the effect of American culture on its superheroes, Superheroes: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture appeals to readers of all ages, from the casual observer of the phenomenon to the most exacting fan of the genre.
Drawing from more than 50 new interviews conducted expressly for Superheroes! - creators from Stan Lee to Grant Morrison, commentators from Michael Chabon to Jules Feiffer, actors from Adam West to Lynda Carter, and filmmakers such as Zach Snyder - this is an up-to-the-minute narrative history of the superhero, from the comic strip adventurers of the Great Depression, up to the blockbuster CGI movie superstars of the 21st Century. Featuring more than 500 full-color comic book panels, covers, sketches, photographs of both essential and rare artwork, Superheroes is the definitive story of this powerful presence in pop culture.
BONUS FEATURE: Exclusive first-hand commentary from some of the greatest creators in comic book history, from Golden Age artists and writers (Carmine Infantino, Joe Kubert, Stan Lee) to the superstars of the Silver Age (Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Denny O'Neil)--all the way up to the movers and shakers of the 21st Century (Todd McFarlane, Joe Quesada); plus luminaries such as Adam West, Jules Feiffer and Michael Chabon.
Selected interviews from Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle courtesy of Ghost Light Films, © 2013 Ghost Light Films.
©2013 Laurence Maslon (P)2013 Random House Audio
Companion books for PBS documentaries are often utilized more as decorative pieces for a coffee table rather than books to be read cover-to-cover. I remember a friend whose parents had the companion book for Ken Burns' The Civil War and thumbing through it when I was in high school. It was a beautiful book with great pictures but I don't think I ever read an entire page of the text.
I'm glad I took the plunge with this companion book. Maslon and Kantor have done a great job presenting a concise overview of the history of comics publishing in the United States. Both informative and entertaining, the book tells the story of superhero comics from their antecedents in the pulps of the early 1930's all the way through the current DC and Marvel Universes and the creator owned imprints.
As some have stated in Amazon reviews, there are a few discrepancies concerning the exact dates of origin for some creations. And no, it does not delve into all the smaller publishing houses that have produced superhero comics. This really doesn't detract from the book's overall effect though. You can't cover every aspect of the history of superhero comics in 300 pages and that is not what the authors intended to do.
For someone with Ph.D. level knowledge of comic history, "Superheroes!" will not offer any information you do not already know. For fans whose experience only stretches as far back as when they began reading comics, and for those with little to no knowledge of comic books at all though, it provides a great overview in an entertaining fashion that will hopefully spark further investigation of this thoroughly fascinating literary form.
just one more book lover
This book is a great primer on superhero comics, beginning with early 20th century comic strips, like Little Nemo in Slumberland and Popeye, and pulp fiction to the bumper crop of 21st century superhero mivies.
If you are into indie comics (or comix), this ain't the book for you. If you know everything there is about comics history, this ain't for you either.
But if you want to know how Superman emerged out of the Great Depression and the origin stories of DC and Marvel as well as their big -name characters, this is the title for your spinner rack.
The authors tackle the history chronologically. You get background on major players--Stan Lee, Jack Kirby et al--and influential series. The 1986 appearance of The Dark Knight by Frank Miller and Watchmen by Alan Moore gets coverage, so too the creative brain drain to Image Comics.
One of the best features of this audiobook is the use of actual interview audio with comics creators and fanboy-historians: Stan Lee, Grant Morrison, Michael Chabon and several others.
You may want to check out the companion film documentary, which is essentially an abridgement of this with visuals. The author does a nice job of narrating his book.
Whether you are interested in comics, modern myth, popular culture, or the innate desire to be something more, this concise history and snapshot of the graphic literature phenomenon is for you!
Professional librarian type, amateur historian.
My spouse and I listened to this book on vacation, in the car as we drove to our destination, at our destination and back in the car on the way home. We enjoyed it greatly because we both love comic books.
This audiobook makes use of recorded interviews so for some parts you get the interviewees' own voices, making it almost like a documentary. We really appreciated this.
The book covers the origins of characters known and little known and also gets into the real world business part of the comic industry. It seemed a little MARVEL heavy as opposed to DC, but explained, though the history of those enterprises why they are so different and why somethings don't get produced. The book also gets into some industry nitty gritty that explained some quirks about comic book 'cannon' that I'd never given much thought to.
I am better for having listened to this book and it helped me look at the comics I love differently with a different level of appreciation.
The beginning of this novel is a great historical document. Nothing that hasn't been covered before in books like The 10 Cent Plague, Supergods or Marvel the Untold Story. Unfortunately, the last third of the book focuses on the modern age with some major errors, omissions, and ret-conning of history (both current and silver age) with an obvious (and somewhat bitter) feminist promotional agenda.
They could have checked their information more carefully and kept their 90s fanboyism in check.
Crisp, sarcastic, condescending.
It inspired me to avoid any more books by Laurence Maslon.
Enjoy the first two thirds. It's a fairly concise condensed version of previously published, superior works.
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