CLEVELAND, Oh. — “The Artist Behind Superman: The Joe Shuster Story” (Barnes Noble, $24.95) is a new graphic novel by Julian Voloj and artist Thomas Campi that tells the story of the artist half of the team of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Shuster was the George Harrison of the Superman creator duo, even more quiet and reserved than Siegel. There have been many books written about Siegel and Shuster and the creation of Superman, one of the best being “Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster” by Cleveland’s own Brad Ricca, and this book shares many of the stories found in Ricca’s book and others. The writer doesn’t deny dipping into other works. The blurb even says the book is “based on archival material and original sources” and it is heavily annotated.
There are a few scenes that do shed some new light on the oft-told subject. The scene where Shuster is ordered to draw Superboy while Jerry Siegel is in the service during World War II is telling. Siegel pitched the idea of Superboy to DC Comics where it was summarily rejected. But once Jerry was out of the picture, the company handed the idea over to another writer. It would be decades before Siegel’s family got credit and compensation for Jerry’s creation.
In the book, Siegel is furious when he learns that Shuster drew the Superboy book, knowing how long and hard he fought for it. Shuster, a man who did not like confrontation, just responded, “What else could I do?”
The art in the book is rather interesting, almost like a watercolor with faithful — if spare — representations of the characters. It played a little fast and loose with the interpretation of the death of Siegel’s father, Michel. The man was robbed at gunpoint in his clothing shop in Cleveland and suffered a fatal heart attack. The book’s illustration and sparse dialogue makes it appear that the man was shot.
The book is worth reading by Superman fans, just don’t expect a lot of revelations.
Pekar Peace Park Comic Book Festival
I’d like to think Harvey Pekar would be happy with a free comic con held in his home town and named in his honor, but who knows? I just just as easily imagine Harvey picking up some of the books being sold and saying, “What is this junk?”
The Pekar mini comic-con, noon to 5 p.m. July 14 at the park on Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, is always a good time and features many talented local artists. John Backderf, or just plain Derf, is a regular and said he would be there this year. The rest of the guestlist is up in the air. but expect the cream of the crop of local comic writers and artists.
Point is, the festival is always a good time, not overwhelming and expensive like most comic-cons (no offense to the con detailed below, which is also a nice, small con.)
I think Harvey would like that. Maybe.
Lake Effect Comic Con is coming
The Lake Effect Comic Con will be June 24 at the Holiday Inn East, 7701 Reynolds Road (Ohio 306) in Mentor.
Adult admission is $8 and kids under 13 get in free to see a couple dozen comic creators and even more comic dealers. Unlike those bigger conventions that spend their money on television and movie stars, this con is all about the comics.
Clink on the link for a full list of creators and comic dealers, a list that includes Gary Dumm (American Splendor); Mike Gustovich (Avengers) Dirk Manning, (Mr. Rhee) among many others.
It’s also a good place to buy and sell comics with enough dealers to allow price comparison.