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Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster--the Creators of Superman

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  197 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
In time for the 75th anniversary of the Man of Steel, comes the first comprehensive literary biography of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, creators of the DC Comics superhero Superman and the inspiration for Michael Chabon's Kavalier and Clay

Drawing on ten years of research in the trenches of Cleveland libraries, boarded-up high schools, and secret, private collections, and
Hardcover, 423 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2013)
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Timothy Mayer
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to imaging a hero more American than Superman. Even his principles spell-out his country: "Truth, Justice, and the American Way". And yet The Man Of Steel's origins are foreign, even interplanetary. Everyone knows his beginnings: how his parents spirited him away to safety in a rocket from their dying world. How he was raised by the Kents, plain folks, as a farm boy, and how, upon discovering his powers, he fought evil as a superhero. By what about his creators? Who were the men who cr ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have always considered myself to be more of a Batman sort of guy than, Superman guy, but am always interested in hearing about the creation of superheroes, no matter who they might be. I am also always interested in hearing how they were created. Turns out, Siegel and Shuster were a lot like many sci-fi/fantasy (and now comic book) fans in high school. They both believed they could come up with something at least as good as was being published. I believe it is this background on both men as th ...more
Wayne McCoy
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Super Boys is the culmination of 10 years research by Brad Ricca. The result is an excellent biography about the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The book includes rare early artwork and stories from their days in high school. Through these, you can see the evolution of Superman.

Jerry just tried wanted to fit in. He wrote for the school newspaper under aliases. He wrote stories about the girls he liked. He wrote letters to the early science fiction magazines and he schemed to
May 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I can remember watching the original Superman movies with Christopher Reeves. Mr. Reeves played a good superman. I don’t remember much about the comic book version of superman. I was not much of a comic book fan.

To be honest this book would not be one of my first choices to read but nonetheless, I am intrigued to learn about the men behind the superhero. I learned a lot about who Jerry and Joe are as people. It was nice to learn where they came from and how they met. Mr. Ricca does a great job
Paul Cockeram
Apr 29, 2016 rated it liked it
There is a heartbreaking story of betrayal and loss in the saga of Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, two boys from Cleveland who became household names after creating Superman, and Ricca finds that story. Then Ricca mythologizes the myth-makers, which probably appeals to fanboys more than casual readers like me. In fact, the level of research and scholarship Ricca brings to his subject (69 pages of footnotes! a 4-page bibliography!) elevate the creation of Superman from incidents to American histor ...more
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
via NYPL - A well-researched and largely well-crafted biography of two of pop culture's most important, and most tragic, figures. Ricca sometimes overplays his hand, forcing lost father narratives and the fictional high school alter-ego Kenton into places where they had no business, but the depth of detail is impressive and the writing engaged. Definitely worth a look for Superman fans who want more insight into their hero's parentage.
Bob Holt
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it
An incredible amount of research went into this, and for that I am appreciative. This is a story that could stand on the merits of its own facts, but the author padded it with innuendo, supposition, and especially in the final chapter about the posthumous lawsuits by the Siegel and Shuster families, presented events out of order (sometimes by five years or more) in order to create a more engaging narrative. I would have preferred a chronological run-down of events.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Brad Ricca tells the interesting story of the creators of Superman, with lots of related information about the history of comics in general. Ricca piles on a lot of detail. At one point I thought the book could have been trimmed by 50 pages or so, but later on I learned that some of the earlier detail was relevant to the later story. I raised my opinion of the book as I worked my way to the end.

All in all, an interesting history of one of our culture's most enduring fictional characters and the
Adam Smith
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Adam by: N/A
This is a biography that tells the story behind the story of the iconic superhero: Superman. Brad Ricca leaves no stone unturned in his research for this book. The end notes document original source material used such as newspapers, books, magazines, comic books, web sites, letters, original art work and personal interviews. Ricca does an excellent job in bringing Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster alive for a new generation of readers. One does not need to be a comic book reader or fan to appreciate ...more
Aug 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
I didn’t need the dust jacket to tell me that the author is a professor at Case Western Reserve University. Almost 70 pages of notes at the back of the book would have told me that--plus the near-obsessive collection of minutiae and the attempt to elevate the subject matter to quasi-cosmic significance. Those are hallmarks of an academic tome, one likely to delight only hard-core comics buffs.

The basic story of wordsmith Jerry Siegel and illustrator Joe Shuster--two hard-luck Jewish kids who bra
Dani Shuping
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-stuff
Everyone is familiar with the story of Superman. The alien from the destroyed planet Krytpon who battles the forces of evil on his adopted home, Earth, and his love Lois Lane. But what about the creators of Superman -- Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster? What do we know of them? That's what this elegantly researched book seeks to answer.

Many readers have heard the Joe and Jerry sold their creation, the greatest superhero ever, for a measly $130 back in 1938, but...what about the rest of their lives? B
Before these “Superboys” we didn’t have fictional heroes the way we do now. Publishing has changed in so many ways since their humble beginnings and they have helped to change it, how can you not admire that?

Most die hard Superman fans will know a good portion of this book -- or at least the bigger picture. The fine details are where this book sets itself aside from others. So many of the books/tv shows/ etc focus on the history of the Man of Steel himself and not his creators. His creators who
Dan Trudeau
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Here's the deal: I can't write an objective review of this book. I've been waiting for a long-form biography of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster my entire life. Marc Tyler Nobleman got the ball rolling with his picture book, Boys of Steel. Their lives have fascinated me since I was a kid and I couldn't wait to dig into the details.

It was as enjoyable experience as I hoped it would be, thanks to Ricca's research and descriptive, effective prose. Fascinating details were brought to life and I put the
Mark Clark
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I recently had one of the worst vacations of my life. The weather was terrible, my wife developed pneumonia and my son came down with an intestinal virus. The only highlight of this misbegotten trip was my reading material: Brad Ricca's superb Siegel and Shuster biography, Super Boys. I found it so engrossing that I was almost glad the trip was so awful, since it allowed me more reading time.

I thought I knew a lot about Superman, but reading Ricca's book made me realize how little I actually kne
Mark R.
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Super Boys," Brad Ricca's nonfiction documents of the lives of the "Superman" creators, describing a rise from obscurity, before financial downfall, brought on by naivete and poor management.

It's truly saddening to find just how little financial compensation, or even recognition, Siegel and Shuster received during the first few decades of Supermania. Credit did eventually come, but not at some emotional cost.

Ricca paints a clear scene of America, of New York and Ohio specifically, in the early
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
An incredible and riveting tale of the creation of Superman and the frustrating and depressing saga that followed. Goes into great detail about the influences that helped Siegel and Shuster create the world's most recognizable super hero. Parts of the story seem almost unreal in terms of the deceit and outright lies they encountered from their publishers. It also highlights the extended periods that the two creators lived in near poverty while all things Superman continued to rake in millions. M ...more
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
An interesting historical account of the creators of Superman. I must say, the life of these two teenage boys are also quite interesting. The author draws parallelisms between the life of Superman (and the characters that exist in his world) and those of Jerry and Joe, how their lives translated into their seminal creation.

The sad thing is that these two "superboys" are not given their due credit (and multi-million dollars in profit) by the giant corporate machinery who "bought" the Superman cha
Kris Potratz
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for allowing me the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Let me just say to start - that this was a very thorough book. VERY thorough. I am a fan of the Superman saga but you need to be a serious fan of Superman and even just of comic books in general to really appreciate this biography. Brad Ricca fished out every detail of the journey of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and I mean every.single.possible.detail. I found myself ski
Mike Gabor
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful dual biography of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the creators of Superman. The author gives us a detailed account of their early lives, how they met, how their friendship formed. He tells us about their early endeavors in the world of comics, the way the character of Superman was developed and who the model for Lois Lane is. He also details for us their life long fight to recieve their fair share of profits from the Superman character as they originally sold their rights to Superman t ...more
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
In the 1930s, after receiving many rejection slips, the creators of Superman virtually jumped at the chance to sign a contract. In doing so, without benefit of counsel or agent, they were gypped out of millions in royalty payments. The contract made them mere publication syndicate employees. Most interesting is how these two post-teenagers transformed ideas, acquaintances and names into the meld of characters that became dazzling cartoon stars, especially for the syndicate. This biography detail ...more
Jan 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Lesson for the kids out there, you can create the most popular, famous fictional character since Santa Claus but still find yourself (relatively) penniless.

It was fascinating to read the origin story of my childhood (super)hero -- and what can happen to artists on the wrong side of the deal. Brad Ricca clearly did an incredible amount of research and created an engrossing narrative. My only complaint is that the manner in which he guessed at the internal psychology of his subjects was a bit stra
Obi Juan
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
La historia de Kal-El, único superviviente de un planeta condenado, es un día en Disneylandia, comparada con la de sus creadores. Estafados en los derechos del personaje durante más de 30 años, sería interesante la lectura con una mirada crítica, especialmente en el momento que vivimos, donde, en pos de la sacro santa "Propiedad Intelectual", nuestros derechos como ciudadanos del sistema capitalista (es decir, del mundo,que tal como Krypton, parece condenado a desaparecer) son violados. Les pasó ...more
Dec 16, 2013 rated it liked it
The incredible story of two Jewish boys in Cleveland, Ohio who create the most iconic character in pop culture.
Sons of immigrants, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster distilled the essence of their upbringing, knowledge and the zeitgeist of the U.S. to create Superman.
Although I enjoyed most of the book, it lost a bit of momentum in the last chapter which involved the legal wranglings of the estates of Siegel and Shuster and the "never ending battle" with DC comics and Warner Bros. as to the ownership
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
A good biography is hard to put down. A good double bio about the creators of superheroes is even more challenging to put down.

This was an excellent read- especially if you are into comics, superheroes (of any variety), or just generally enjoy a well researched and well written bio.

Siegel and Shuster have (sadly) been nearly forgotten, simply because, unlike Stan Lee or Bob Kane, their names stopped appearing as a byline on their creation. This book did a fantastic job explaining why and how th
Raza Syed
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
An interesting and detailed biography of the Co-Creators of Superman. It follows the story of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster from before birth to after death; in the context of their Greatest Creation SUPERMAN. I leaned a lot of things about comics, their evolution and ofcourse about Superman. However, one major issue with this book - too much detail !

The books gets very slow and draggy on a regular basis. I like details and explanations but not at the expense of a smooth flow of the book.

If you a
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have finished reading this book and boy did I loved reading it. Mr. Ricca has done a fantastic job with dealing the lives of Siegel and Shuster in their individual lives to when Superman was created 75 years ago. I had to read it after seeing Man of Steel which I had saw twice and it is an awesome film.

There is a lot that I will not reveal, you must read it for yourself. All I can say is definitely read this book. Even if you aren't a Superman fan, it is required reading for those who love Co
Michael Poteet
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You can check out my full review at The Sci-Fi Christian (, but, bottom line, this is an outstanding book. An excellent example of how to write biography, with a real novelistic flair, backed up by exhaustive research and mastery of the material. Fantastic reading not only for Superman fans but also for students of 20th century popular culture. Highly recommended.
Derek Royal
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
An interesting biography of Siegel and Shuster, although a more personal one. By "personal" I mean that Ricca gets inside the head, so to speak, of his subjects in ways you usually don't find in more "objective" biographies. There may be a little bit if creative license in a few passages, but overall, a strong read. Two complaints, though: 1) The author needs to understand the true definition of the word "infamous," and 2) This book's editor should have caught the many "infamous" slips.
Billy Hogan
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
While the story of the success and struggles of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster was very familiar to me, "Super Boys" filled in the details about their lives so that it felt like I was reading the story of their lives for the first time. This was a very well researched book, and I would highly recommend it to any Superman fan.
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it
A truly interesting story but it does drag in places. The story of Siegel & Shuster creating Superman in their late teene/early 20s run. I guess through their families lawsuits against DC and Time Warner years after the writer's and artist's deaths. Interesting pop culture history whether or not you are deeply immersed in comic book trivia.
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Brad Ricca is the author of Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City's Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation (St. Martin's, 2017). He is also the author of Super Boys, winner of the 2014 Ohioana Book Award in Nonfiction, winner of a 2014 Cleveland Arts Prize for Emerging Artist in Literature, and a Booklist Top 10 Book on the Arts. He is als ...more
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