Title: Men of Tomorrow
Author: Gerard Jones
Men of Tomorrow provides a sweeping history of the comic book industry in the 20th century. While Jones covers material far beyond Superman, the primary focus is on the Man of Steel and the men responsible for his creation and emergence as a cultural icon. Writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster are both profiled, as are Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz, the publishers who first brought the character to the public.
The book is more than just a blow-by-blow account. The industry's evolution is always tied to external cultural forces - the tenement slums of the early 20th century, the rise of organized crime during Prohibition, Depression, war, the moral anxiety of the 1950s and so on. Men of Tomorrow also documents the rise of geek culture, born in the pulp fiction fan magazines of the '20s and '30s - a culture which comics nurtured for decades and which ultimately spawned comics creators.
The unifying theme of this broad history is the rights of comic book artists and writers to profit from their creations. Grunts like Siegel and Shuster were exploited for years while publishers made millions. Today, the most successful creators are genuine celebrities in the comics world. It's difficult to appreciate the years of painful and frequently humiliating litigation Siegel and Shuster had to endure just to be credited in the Superman movies and other such products.