Michael's Reviews > Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book
Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book
by Gerard Jones
by Gerard Jones
I read this as background for Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Research soon turned into fascination with the true story of the origins of the comic book and the superheroes that made the genre a cultural phenomenon. Well written and documented, Men of Tomorrow is an important social history of the comic book in America. Jones has done a fine job of interweaving the stories of the creators (writers and artists) and the publishing entrepreneurs who made the comic book successful and took advantage of the underpaid and often anonymous talent to earn their fortunes. The book is dense with names, especially since many of the Jewish authors and artists with Eastern European names took one or more pen names during their careers in order to appear less "foreign" to the American public. I felt at times that I needed to make charts to keep up with the large cast of characters. The work is thoughtful, and the reader comes away with real insights into the complicated relationship between social changes in America and the roller coaster history of the comic books and those who created and marketed them. The book is illustrated with interesting photographs of several of the principal movers and shakers as well as with reproductions of representative covers and panels from significant comic books. Reading it made me want to revisit the superhero comics of my youth.
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