This is, hands down, the best cover I’ve seen on a comic for a while, maybe all year: DC’s THE SPIRIT #29 drawn by Paul Rivoche. It’s a master class in everything a cover should be, and I’m going to be using it as an example of “how to do it right” for perhaps the rest of my life. Let’s walk through it:
Yes, I realize I have very…specific interests, but there is nothing, nothing, nothing I love more than–or delights me as much as–finding out things about Superman than I didn’t know before. In fact, I’m not even sure I knew that was possible at this point. But I’ve just spent the last three days immersed in this:
–and this book fills me with a stupid, giddy glee usually reserved for high-school girls in line for Jonas Brothers autographs. Because of how much it added to the canon and the mythos, I’m as big a fan and student of the 1940s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN radio program as anyone alive, and I thought I was the expert. I was wrong. Added bonus: I learned GOBS from Flights of Fantasy about the 1950s television show.
The book is well-written, well put-together, detailed without being mind-numbing (YMMV), and a testament to stupendous research. Author Hayde takes nothing for granted and meticulously debunks a lot of the old, labored anecdotes that we’ve long since come to accept as fact (such as the old story that George Reeves’ role in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY was trimmed to near-nothing because audiences were too distracted by “Superman,” or that kryptonite was invented for the radio “so Bud (Superman) Collyer could get vacation time by playing ‘unconscious’ “–neither true). The episode guides in the back are the best I’ve ever seen and include pages and pages of unfilmed “lost scenes” from the original scripts and detailed synopses of two unfilmed episodes I HAD NEVER HEARD OF.
And–AND–added bonus–while the answer isn’t directly stated in Hayde’s book, his work led me down a new path of research that gave me my new favorite hardest-ever Superman trivia question (which will be a relief to those of you who are sick to death after ten years of hearing me smugly ‘face challengers with “What was Lana Lang’s mother’s maiden name?”)
Again, I realize that the Venn diagram of people who read this column and people who as fanatical about this material as I am has very little overlap…but, man, I am over the MOON about this book.
Subcategory: Perfectly innocent ads. From the Charlton comics of summer 1985:
15 MINUTES WITH WAID – My Good Friend, Jack Daniel’s
As promised, your handy-dandy Amazon link: Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
Barcelona is a marvelous city. I’m here at the Hotel Catalana attending the nearby 27th International Barcelona Comics Fair. It makes San Diego Comicon look small. Last year, they had over 120,000 guests. This year, they hope for more. They are good people.
I’m here with Jim Lee, Diego Olmos and Marta Martinez celebrating the release of Batman in Barcelona, a one-shot we did that’s being released simultaneously this week in Spain, America and (I believe) Italy. I’ll be the first to admit that, story-wise, you’ll get more out of it if you’re a Barcelonan than you will if you’re an American, but it’s worth buying just for Diego and Marta’s interior art and color work. They are also good people.
(L to R: City official, guy who still needs to shave off another 15 pounds, Jim Lee, some guy who is by now dead of heatstroke, my new crush Marta, Diego.)
I have been photographed more in the last 24 hours than I have in the entire 20 years previous. I met the Mayor. I met the City Council and the cultural director. I have been interviewed for every TV and radio station in Spain, apparently, and all of them–ALL OF THEM–employ cleavage-abundant female reporters who terrify me with their Telemundo-level energy. Luckily, I’m at my best on camera when it’s 90 degrees with a humidity that would suggest that we are, in fact, underwater. As my friends know, I sweat like a Southern lawyer even in December, so here, every time someone trains a camera on me, I feel like Spongemark Squarepants.
And I am, of course, preaching the BOOM!iverse to every journalist and every fan, and we have quite a following over here. Everyone’s excited about DIE HARD, IRREDEEMABLE, THE UNKNOWN, UNTHINKABLE, and all else.
Sat next to Scott McCloud on the NY-to-Barcelona leg of the flight, and he’s a delightful conversationalist and probably the smartest guy I know about the craft of comics storytelling. If there were some sort of scientific measurement for the widest ratio conceivable of knowledge-to-humility, it would be called the McCloud. Scott is the antithesis of arrogance, and that makes him pleasurable to be around.
Jeffrey Brown is also one witty and fun convention guest, and I look forward to talking with him a bit more and sampling his work, which I am ashamedly not familiar with. (Then again, I bet he’s never read Superman: Birthright, so it’s a wash.)
Superman editor Matt Idelson is a lush, but that’s not news.