GeekDad Review: Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman

Geek Culture


Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ross MacDonald, is a new book about the history of how the character of Superman came to exist, aimed at kids.  When I first heard of the idea, I thought it was an excellent one, since virtually every kid knows something about Superman, but even most adults don’t have any idea where Superman came from (and I don’t mean Krypton).  Even comic book geeks, who would immediately tell you that Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in June of 1938, and might even be able to tell you that that issue was written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Joe Shuster, probably couldn’t tell you anything more than that.

Boys of Steel is the story of Siegel and Shuster, two geeky teenagers who didn’t have great home lives (Siegel’s father was murdered, and Shuster’s family was too poor to afford heat), and who used their imaginations to escape the unpleasantness in their lives.  They met, became friends, and eventually created one of the best-known characters of the 20th century.  In a decision that would turn out to haunt them, they sold all rights to Superman to DC Comics for $130.

The book, published in honor of the 70th anniversary of Action Comics #1, is an excellent read, for kids and adults alike.  My seven-year-old son read the whole thing in about fifteen minutes, pronounced it "great," and then read it again the next day (entirely voluntarily).  I particularly enjoyed the artwork, by the exceptional Ross MacDonald, whose style already bore a strong resemblance to Joe Shuster’s, and who I strongly suspect emphasized that resemblance in doing the art for the book.  The text, by Marc Tyler Nobleman (himself a cartoonist), is very good, speaking to kids without talking down to them.  I appreciate his afterword, which (without pictures) tells the story of what happened to Siegel and Shuster after Superman became famous.

If you or your kids have even the slightest interest in Superman, you and they will really enjoy this book.  I highly recommend it.

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