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Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book Hardcover – 22 Sep 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; export ed edition (22 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465036562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465036561
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,106,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'Men of Tomorrow is written with the thrilled verve of the comic book fan, along with a historians concern for scholarly apparatus and a journalist's eye for a good story.'" (Daily Telegraph)

"'The most insightful, engaging and yes, erudite account of how comic books elbowed their way to the very core of mainstream popular culture... For anyone who ever craved (and still does) the next issue of Superman or Mad Magazine or the Fantastic Four, Jones will remind you what that thrill felt like - and why' Scotsman"

"It's a tribute to the vividness with which Jones tells his tale that Siegel and Schuster ultimately become more interesting than Superman... Fascinating... Absorbing' Charles Shaar Murray, Independent"

"[A] gleeful pop-culture history, told with comic book pacing, deadpan wit and an ear for a telling phrase... It's a Jewish story and it's an American story. It might even be an American classic.'" (Glasgow Herald)

"What a story... Men Of Tomorrow reads like a novel... Very convincing...rich and rewarding.' Scotland on Sunday" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Before The Incredibles, there were Batman and Superman, Spiderman and Captain America... Gerard Jones' book tells the story of the birth of the superheroes --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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By A Customer on 12 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
An absolutely fascinating book covering the characters behind the birth of comic books in New York from the 20-30s onwards. It concentrates on Siegel and Schuster (the creators of Superman) before moving on to Batman and the horror comics of the 50s. It is very well researched and written by a writer who is obviously an expert in this field.
I read it in (nearly) one sitting. I would have given it five stars but it could have done with more illustrations.
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Format: Hardcover
Rarely can books be unputdownable yet definitive: this is. Scrupulously researched and referenced (eighteen pages of bibliographic AND ORAL sources attest to the author's diligence) it reads like a blockbuster. Sometimes a tad over-excited (I cherish comics as much as the next man, but the paean to 'the funnies' on page 68 is simply OTT), this is gloves-off, edge-of-the-seat stuff for the Clark Kent or Lois lurking in all our hearts. Pages 285-91 are particularly telling, besides clarifying for me the origin of the mysterious Fortress of Solitude which crops up in an early Superman film. My only quibble, a minor one, would be that Jones doesn't 'get' the pathos of Wonder Wart-Hog, calling him a 'pornographic parody' of Superman (anybody turned on by Wonder Wart-Hog is in serious trouble*) and comparing him absurdly with the paper-thin Kurtzman/Wally Wood send-up Superduperman (which made its first appearance in Mad #3, not #4). Final indignity, Jones strips the Hog of his hyphen (Spider-Man's NEVER seen without HIS), though he redeems himself by an acute paragraph (p302, top third) on what superheroes tell us about our society. No, really.

It's a shame no space is found for John Goldwater, leading light** behind the Comics Code Authority who also ran Archie (fancy that), but he doesn't make From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books either. Lou Fine (Black Condor, The Ray, subbing on The Spirit when Will Eisner was at war) pops up tantalising (pp 139, 169) but sadly doesn't make it as far as the index, where you will likewise search in vain for Captain Marvel and Wonder Wart-Hog or, in Jonespeak, Wonder Wart Hog: I checked the former under C and M and the latter under W, W and H just in case and can tell you I am not best pleased.
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Format: Paperback
This is an extraordinary book, quite possibly the best ever written about comic books, their creation and their cultural impact. Meticulously researched and rivetingly written. The lives of the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, form a thread running through the book, and we learn about their early lives, the influences that came together into their creation of Superman, their initial failure to interest any publisher in the concept, the happy accident that led to the character featuring on the cover of Action Comics, the subsequent explosion of superhero comics, the truckloads of money that others made out of Superman, Siegel and Schuster's failure to repeat their first success, their fall into abject poverty, and their eventual rescue by comic-book fan-boys.
I've been a comic book fan for half a century myself, but had no idea just how many crooks ran the industry. Real crooks too, with links to some of the most notorious gangsters of their day, men who, before they started publishing comics, had made their money from prohibition, prostitution, pornography, illegal gambling, money-laundering and so forth. These were the men who founded the comic book companies, including DC and Marvel, and who continued to run them from the 1930s through to the 1980s. These were the guys who treated their artists and writers like scum, whilst getting rich off their creativity. Along the way, they bought off the police, judges, trade union leaders and anyone else they could bribe to oil the wheels of their industry. For anyone who thought that comics books were all about freedom and fantasy, this book is a real eye-opener.
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Format: Hardcover
I thought I knew a lot about American comics - who wrote them originally, who drew them, who edited them (even who INKED them). But after reading MEN OF TOMORROW, I realised how limited my knowledge was.

Gerard Jones' book is an absorbing and wonderfully informative read, charting the the biggest 'origin story' ever. These are the times and the places where mystery men, costumed heroes and super-powered crime fighters were born, creating fortunes for a few publishers at the top and (eventually) misery for a lot of the creators at the bottom.

Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary tale!

If you're a fan, you must read this. It rewards in spades.
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