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Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman    by Marc Tyler Nobleman & Ross Macdonald order for
Boys of Steel
by Marc Tyler Nobleman
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

It is hard to believe that the most recognizeable superhero of all celebrates his 70th anniversary in 2008. Boys of Steel, an illustrated history of the creation of Superman - for it is as much a history as a biography - is charmingly illustrated in Joe Shuster's style by Ross MacDonald.

Like the comic book that debuted with Superman, it is a bright and cheerful rendering that presents the tale of two shy and creative boys who persisted obstinately against all odds to bring to life what was at the time an unprecedented concept: an alien superhero in a real-world setting. There have been many other fantastic visitors since 1938, some freakishly outlandish; but Superman was the first.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster deserve this clarification of their role in bringing Superman to life, particularly when one becomes aware of their long battle to win recognition. They struggled not only as nerds (a far more acceptable type nowadays than before) but also at a time when illustrators had few rights. Boys of Steel shows the long odds against them, and it is satisfying to see that they and their families have won recognition as well as some monetary compensation.

The author concentrates more on Jerry Siegel's than on Joe Shuster's contribution (Siegel was the author, Shuster the artist), which I found a bit lopsided. For a long-time fan like me, there are also some noticeable omissions (for one, the Canadian connection - for example, the Daily Planet was modelled on the Toronto Star). However, Boys of Steel is not intended to be the definitive biography of Siegel and Shuster, but rather an entertaining introduction to two talented youngsters who stubbornly kept faith with their creation.

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