Entries in Disney (2)
There's a recent spate of books being culled from blogs where an author can reach a wider audience while preserving their voice. Of course, the intimacy and accessibility that comes from a free blog found by fans on the net is sacrificed for the sake of monetary compensation and greater exposure. But the fans will continue to follow the artist as long as that artist doesn't change his voice or whatever ineffable qualities he exhibited that attracted people to him in the first place. But is it worth paying money just to get something that's mostly free online? True, many authors add some previously unreleased material - but that usually doesn't count for the majority of the text.
Enter Brian Cronin's Was Superman a Spy? from Penguin Books. Based on Cronin's column "Comic Book Legends Revealed" that he writes for the Comics Should Be Good Blog at Comic Book Resources, the book is an examination of the comic book industry - with particular interest in superheroes, the business aspect of comic books and the cultural impact that they've had since World War II. Cronin uses some key characters from the "Big Two" comic companies (DC & Marvel) to act as a gateway into the evolution of the medium and the industry, and examines the various changes and interesting anecdotes that have befallen them over the years. In particular focus are Superman, Batman, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Captain America, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and Walt Disney comics. There are extenuating chapters on bits of comic book arcana covering other characters, with interesting and curious stories of particular creators or characters.
I tend to think of myself as a person fairly well versed in comic book lore, who knows a lot of the storied history of these iconic characters - their fictional origins as well as the inspirations their creators drew on to give birth to these figures of the new mythology. Even with that snobbish background, this book is incredibly accessible and packs a lot of information into a sparse few chapters.