[Nonfiction Wednesday] Meet Superman’s Creators in “Boys of Steel”

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Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2015 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, as well as reading challenges that we have pledged to join this year.

We have just launched our new reading theme for September – October: Crazy for Comics! Graphic Novel Galore!

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Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman

Written by: Marc Tyler Nobleman Illustrated by: Ross MacDonald
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

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While I read a lot of graphic novels, I have to admit that I haven’t really read a lot of superhero comics – primarily because I don’t know exactly where to begin with so many Spiderman, Superman, Ironman, Hellboy, Fantastic Four comics that are out there that seem like a dime a dozen. I do follow some of the TV series closely though (Smallville is a personal favourite) and I loved all the Superman movies from the earlier ones (Christopher Reeve) to the most recent with Henry Cavill, the picture of absolute perfection himself as the all-powerful Superman.

This picturebook biography of Superman’s creators depict the life stories of high school seniors Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster – two shy, socially-awkward young men who found refuge in their comics.

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At least in the pages of a comic book, the evil ones get their comeuppance in the end and life is restored to how it should be. It seemed quite natural for the two to start writing their own comic books with Joe wrapped up in his illustrations and Jerry being driven to type down his dreams furiously in his battered typewriter.

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Most of their earlier works ended up in a huge rejection bin, which caused a great amount of frustration to these two young creators who are going for broke, as this was the period of Depression, and their parents suffered the brunt of the times.

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Hitting rock bottom is essentially what inspired Jerry to create a character that is the complete antithesis of who he perceives himself to be, everything that he is not – imbued with courage, wisdom, unbeatable strength, and a great sense of justice to help out the oppressed.

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And the rest as they say is history. Reading the Afterword though made me feel really bad for these two artists as I noted how DC took advantage of their youth and talent and paid them a measly 130 dollars for all the rights to the character of Superman who was an instant hit to the public. I am glad that there is now a picturebook that might serve as a cautionary tale to young creators out there to help them better protect their brainchild; and hopefully through this book, Superman’s creators would have finally received the recognition they so rightfully deserve.

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Here’s the official trailer of the latest Man of Steel movie:

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Winner of NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2009

#AWBRead2015 Update: 77 (35)

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#nfpb2015 Challenge Update: 51 (25)

  1. That looks fabulous. Again, I really appreciate books that show the creative process through the lives of the artists/musicians/dancers/writers. It is a process. Oftentimes, students are expected to create on demand, but creativity is so much more about attention to passion and desire to achieve a result. When we see how those who came before manifested their ideas, it keeps the focus on an individual’s voice and originality and recognizing that it is a journey.

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  2. I enjoyed this book, didn’t know any of their story, & it is a heart-breaking one to see how their creation was taken from them, Myra. The book’s pages are so well done. Glad you enjoyed it, too.

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  3. We actually have this one in store. If you have time, there are also some great documentaries about graphic novels.

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  4. This looks great, I’ll be on the lookout for it!

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  5. We have requested this book from the library but it hasn’t arrived yet. It looks amazing! Thank you for reminding us about this text.

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  6. I LOVE this book! It’s a great story, and I have reread it several times! 🙂

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