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

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  263 ratings  ·  60 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
Paperback, 464 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published June 3rd 2013)
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Timothy Mayer
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Wayne McCoy
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
I can remember watching the original Superman movies with Christopher Reeves. Mr. Reeves played a good superman. I dont 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
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 ...more
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
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.
This review originally published in Looking FOr a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5

Well this was informative!

It's pretty hard not to know who the character of Superman is, but naming the creators of Superman might be much more challenging to most people. Fans of comics and graphic novels likely already know of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and even someone like myself - very much on the outer fringe of comic/graphic novel reading - knew about the long battle Siegel and Shuster had to retain (or regain)
Looking at all the reviews, I'm kinda alone in my opinion, but I really felt this book would have been better as an academic paper than a book.

Credit where credit is due: this book was very well researched. Everything was cited, there were photos aplenty, and every inch of the legal stuff was trotted out with the tone of someone who spent hours getting it all in order. It never makes the assumption that the reader probably knows something, and makes very little guesswork about the gray areas.

Laura Cobrinik
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brad Ricca's book, "Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster--The Creators of Superman," seems like the definitive biography of the artists who created "Superman." However, the author does say that there may have been others out there who also designed the character....There is some question as to whether "the idea was stolen" but I did learn that the artists were from Cleveland, Ohio, and eye opening fact because I had always thought that the creators of Superman and ...more
Maurice Tougas
The story of the birth of Superman, as told through the story of its co-creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I'm not a comic book fan, but the story held my interest for the most part (until it got too deep into comic book guy minutia). It's actually quite a tragic story, in that both of the creators got royally screwed by the comic book companies. Overall, a little too deep for someone not crazy about comics, but consistently interesting (and sad) nonetheless. (By the way, don't buy into the ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Keith Hendricks
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the best comic-related biography I have read, not only for its content, but for its tremendously melancholic tone and the way Ricca finds the poetic connections between the creators lives and their creation. E.g., the blue suit (!) stolen, on the night of Siegels fathers death, from the family business, a clothing store later valued in probate for within $1 of the $130 National paid for Superman. The chapter Both Sides is a great payoff after a lengthy slow burn. ...more
Jack Phoenix
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The reader will feel a distinct and cruel irony that the creators of Superman, the most American of heroes, would fall victim to the evils of American capitalism. Nevertheless, Ricca never ceases to inject an element of affection and awe for "the boys" throughout, giving the reader plenty of sweet with the sour.
Dean Simons
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book only vaguely knowing the story of the boys who lost their own creation. This book is very detailed and takes its time building an image of the boys and their young world. The latter half of the book goes at a blistering pace of incidents and detail which contrasts from slow (and rather wonkily written) start. Overall I enjoyed the book and it was very illuminating.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You don't step on Superman's cape. But you do step on his creators and don't really acknowle their role in the creation and growth of the most iconic hero of the 20th century.
John Sorg
Feb 26, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent research; miserably poor writing.
Michael Spiro
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. Cant help but feel bad for jerry and Joel. They got royally screwed. ...more
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  ·  review of another edition
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
MisterLiberry Head
I didnt 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
Before these Superboys we didnt 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 are
Dani Shuping
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
Dan Trudeau
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Mark R.
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Kris Stuart
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
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Brad Ricca is the Edgar-nominated author of the bestselling Mrs. Sherlock Holmes (2017) and Super Boys (2014), winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Nonfiction and a Booklist Top 10 Book on the Arts. He is also the author of American Mastodon, winner of the 2009 St. Lawrence Book Award. He lives with his family in Cleveland.

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