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Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book
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Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book [Format Kindle]

Gerard Jones
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

"'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 and rewarding.' Scotland on Sunday"

Présentation de l'éditeur

By the author of The Comic Book Heroes, Killing Monsters, and scores of successful comic books and screenplays, Men of Tomorrow is the first book to tell the surprising story of the young Jewish misfits, hustlers and nerds who invented the superhero and the comic book industry. Among the characters in this vibrant panorama: · Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, the goofy myopic creators of Superman, who sold the rights to the Man of Tomorrow for $130 to…· Harry Donenfield, former pornographer and con-man, and his partner, Jack Liebowitz, founder of DC Comics, who went on to help build Steve Ross's legendary Warner Communications· Batman's Bob Kane, who rose to fame and fortune in a career based entirely on lies and self-promotion· Mort Weisinger, the ruthless editor of Superman, who suffered a nervous breakdown when he tried to be a superhero himself · Plus Stan Lee, founder of a new kind of hero, including Spiderman, at Marvel Comics; Will Eisner, whose creation "The Spirit" has become a cult classic, and many, many more. Springing unheralded out of working-class Jewish immigrant neighborhoods in the depths of the Depression, these young men transformed an odd mix of geekdom, science fiction, and outsider yearnings into blue-eyed chisel-nosed crime-fighters and adventurers who quickly captured the mainstream imagination. Within a few years their inventions were being read by 90% of American children and had spawned a new genre in movies, radio and TV that still dominates youth entertainment seventy years later. Drawing on exhaustive research, including interviews with friends and relatives of the creators, Jones reveals how the immigrant experience and the collision of Yiddish and American culture-forged in the crucible of two world wars-shaped the vision of the make-believe hero. He chronicles how the comics sparked a frightened counterattack that nearly destroyed the industry in the 1950's and how later they surged back at an underground level, to inspire a new generation to transmute those long-ago fantasies into art, literature, blockbuster movies and graphic novels. Animated by the stories of some of the last century's most charismatic and conniving artists, writers and businessmen, Men of Tomorrow brilliantly demonstrates how the creators of the superheroes gained their cultural power and established a crucial place in the modern imagination.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 L'histoire des comic-books 21 janvier 2011
Par symon
Ce passionnant bouquin relate l'histoire des comic-books en suivant les destins croisés de ceux qui ont participé à la création de la bande dessinée américaine.
Magnifiquement documenté, cette véritable reconstitution historique nous parle des rêves des créateurs et du pragmatisme économique des éditeurs avec ferveur et sans épargner aucun détail qui fâche. Le destin tragique de Siegel et Schuster, les créteurs de Superman, le prouve.
A ne pas manquer, pour tous ceux qui s'interessent à l'histoire de la Bande Dessinée, l'histoire avec un grand H.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5  39 commentaires
60 internautes sur 61 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "Biography not bibliography" 4 novembre 2004
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
By Gerard Jones's own admission this book is a biography and not a bibliography, it's more about the real world Golden Age players than their brightly costumed alter egos. It should technically be described as a comparative social biography of Superman's creators (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster) and Superman's publishers (Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz). The introduction is dynamite and really sets the scene for where Jerry Siegel was on the day Superman The Movie was announced. The first act paints a broad picture of 1920s and 1930s New York and Cleveland, and illustrates how different social conditions shaped the lives of very different groups of immigrant Jews.

The dense, dangerous world of early 20th century New York is perhaps the most emotive and Jones expertly draws the reader into the world of the street gangs and Prohibition era alliances that gave birth to the Jewish dominated New York mob. His portrait of Harry Donenfeld is as an opportunistic, if charismatic, rogue and he portrays Liebowitz as a humourless straight man - a real-life double act. By contrast Cleveland comes across as an icon of suburban American life and we get a real sense of Jerry Siegel's childhood - including the revelation that Siegel's father had been murdered. Of the four leads Joe Shuster remains the most enigmatic.

Woven through the these histories are the side stories of the elder and younger Gaines, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Julius Schwartz, Mort Weisinger, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, and a host of other names. Most of them were from the same generation, most of them were Jewish and most of them were drawn to New York by a powerful new medium. Something Jones doesn't do is to carry the sense of the Jewishness much further. He uses it to give us a sense of the New York scene and to show the growth of the businesses on the edge of the mob, but it isn't followed through and all we are left with is links between former mob businesses. It would have been nice to have more of a sense of how the strong Jewish roots of the industry became eroded.

The same cast features prominently in the middle act of the book which chronicles the 1940s and the maturation of the medium. They are also followed through the last (third) act which deals with their post-1940s history. Jones glosses over much of the Silver Age and instead concentrates on how the first generation of comic book players faired in the post Comics Code world. The thread that ties the entire narrative together is Superman. From his inception, his influences, and his sale to the subsequent play and counter play between Siegel and Donenfeld. Jones never demonises either party and he aptly demonstrates how completely different life experiences created two people who simply didn't understand each other. Each party feeling fully justified to claim Superman as their own.

Jones's book is a rich look at the real world figures who inspired Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. A lot of the early material is based on extensive interviews with the surviving players and almost as importantly interviews with people from outside the comic book industry that knew the players. His writing flows easily and holds your attention, although the more well read fan may find themselves occasionally skimming through the more famous sections (a danger, as Jones often reveals new details). He digs into the industry's self reinforcing mythology and strips it away to show the real people and their personal struggles.

Most comic book histories, many of them excellent, are based on first hand accounts from the surviving editors and artists ("the Geeks") collected by fan historians (themselves "Geeks") that are often more focused on the creative process than on the social history. Jones's book focuses equally on publishers and the creators, and as I comic fan I was at times far more interested in the, to me, hitherto unknown world of Donenfeld and Liebowitz. This isn't an apologist work, but it is balanced towards a wider audience than most comic book histories will reach.
31 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 street superheroes 28 octobre 2004
Par William Kowinski - Publié sur
Gerald Jones, himself a sometimes comic book and superhero screenwriter, describes the real origins of Superman and other superheroes in the gritty urban streets of the 1930s. In this mostly chronological narrative, we follow high school collaborators Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, who created Superman, the first of the superheroes who reemerged in recent years to dominate the box office.

Jones also profiles Bob Kane of Batman fame (portrayed as a less than admirable figure) and Stan Lee, impresario of the Marvel superheroes, like Spider-Man and the Hulk.

But this is not a gee-whiz comic book portrayal, or a series of personality profiles. This is rich cultural history brought to life. By following these characters, readers will learn as much about Prohibition and the Depression, and what it was like for immigrants scrapping to make it in the teeming cities. Perhaps among the surprises is the involvement of gangsters in the success of the crime-fighting superheroes.

Jones shows how the superheroes established the comic book in American culture, as a kind of combination of several genres: the daily newspaper comic strips (so popular and important in immigrant life---as well as a way that many immigrants learned English), and the similarly popular crime and science fiction pulp magazines.

This book's publicity calls it "A real-life Kavalier and Clay." I read it just after reading that mesmerizing Michael Chabon novel, and though this non-fiction book is mostly about a different era, it also tells an engrossing story very well. I was also impressed by the author's care in telling what is known, what is generally believed but doesn't quite check out, and what is still speculation.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Startling revelations! 4 octobre 2005
Par fourcolor - Publié sur
I've read basically everything out there about the early history of comics and I wasn't expecting any new bombshells--so I was amazed by Jones's discovery of the "true origin" of Superman in the violence that occurred to his father, and his tracing of the way Jerry Siegel rewrote his own life story to portray himself as an innocent victim when in fact he was a much more complicated man who brought about his own destruction in many ways. What Jones uncovered about his abandonment of his first wife and child for a younger, prettier other woman (the model for Lois Lane!) shows a side of Siegel I'd never seen before. And the information on the publishers, Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz, has never appeared anywhere as far as I know. Who knew the roots of comics lead back to bootlegging and lapsed socialists? No wonder this got such high praise from Michael Chabon, Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, etc. etc. It changes our understanding of the comics medium!
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Comics History NOT in Black-and-White 18 août 2005
Par Patrick D. O'neill - Publié sur
"Their relationships with masculinity, sexuality, power, individuality, violence, authority, and the modern fluidity of self were so tangled and so heartfelt that their work spoke to the anxieties of modern life more sympathetically, more completely, more acutely than they could have foreseen in their most inflated summer daydreams. With the passage of time, their creations become only more relevant. They forecast and helped shape geek culture. They laid the template for the modern concept of the entertainment franchise. They created the perfect packageable, marketable fantasy for the culture of consumer narcissism, They spawned artistic subcultures. All without quite knowing what they were doing. All by rushing frantically forward, trying to stay a step ahead of the wolves, santching at the cultural scraps they found around them on the Lower East Side and in Glenville and the Bronx and shaping them into something that could be sold quick and cheap. All by banishing yesterday from conscious thought and draming of the score they would make tomorrow."

That's the concluding paragraph from the Prologue to Gerard Jones' Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book. It pretty much sums up the thesis of the book--that the men who created comic books (and he includes the businessmen and editors as much as the writers and artists) created much that we think of as modern popular entertainment.

It's a masterful volume that debunks some of the myths of the industry (Jerry Siegel's famed tale of coming up with Superman all in one fevered summer night is pretty much of a piece with George Washington and the cherry tree) while providing useful background on the familial and business connections of the writers, artists, editors and publishers of comics from the 1930s until the 1980s.

One of the best elements of Jones' work is that he avoids the frequent fan tendency (a tendency that life-long familiarity with comics only exacerbates) to see the world in black-and-white, good-and-evil terms. While not dismissing the unfairness of the treatment Siegel and Shuster received from DC Comics--especially after 1948--Jones also recognizes the businessman's point of view and explores it, without casting the likes of Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz as somehow living embodiments of Lex Luthor or the Kingpin.

Jones sees the risks the early publishers took in chasing their own dreams, and putting into print the dreams of their creative teams...and sees the forces, personal and financial, that pushed those men--and their successors--to protect their investments in these risks once they had paid off so handsomely.

At the same time, he observes and records how much of their own lives and dreams the early writers and artists poured into their creations and why so many of them have fought so hard to protect their less financial but more personal investments. It's this even-handedness that makes the book so welcome--it's not a tirade or a screed for or against either vision of the comic-book business.

If Men of Tomorrow has a fault, it is this: Jones' treatment of the resurgence of the comics in the 1960s is overly Marvel-centric. He virtually ignores Julius Schwartz's reinvigoration of the superhero genre at DC, except to note the long-told story that it was the success of Justice League of America that spurred Martin Goodman to get Stan Lee to create new superheroes. Yes, Lee, Kirby and Marvel in general rethought the superhero, made him fit even more into "geek culture" than before; but they would have had no market into which to sell their efforts if DC and Schwartz had not modernized the Golden Age characters first.

All in all, Men of Tomorrow is a worthy addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in how comics have shaped today's world of entertainment.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 New material in paperback 7 octobre 2005
Par Dwight Banks - Publié sur
I read the hardback and loved it, then read that errors had been corrected and new material added in the paperback, so I picked it up. I'm glad I did. The new material isn't extensive, but it provides even more fascinating glimpses into the twisty story of Jerry Siegel, both in his early days and his publicity campaign in the '70s. Also corrects the previous impressions of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson and Siegel's mysterious son Michael. An even better read than before!
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