THE SILVER AGE OF COMICS by William Schoell (paperback)
The Silver Age of Comics looks at super-hero comic books that were published in the mid-fifties to late sixties in a period that is now known as the "silver age" and when super-heroes -- most of whom had been replaced by science fiction, crime and romance comics etc, -- once again gained popularity and grew to virtually take over the whole comic book industry [basically this is still true today]. The book looks at how DC comics -- publisher of Superman and Batman -- reintroduced such golden age heroes as Green Lantern and The Flash [whose original books had been discontinued], giving them new identities, origins and costumes -- to get success. Then there's Marvel Comics, which introduced more "realistic" [in that they had human problems] characters such as the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the X-Men [who became a comics publishing phenomenon]. Creating interest in older readers, Marvel not only became a serious competitor to DC, but eventually overtook them to become the number one company. But Silver Age isn't only of interest to baby boomers who grew up during this period, but to today's readers, as many of today's most popular characters [in both comics and films] got their start in the silver age: Spider-Man [3 hit movies and now a Broadway show]; X-Men, Iron Man and others are all currently big hits on the big screen and all date back to the sixties. [It's interesting that when it was decided to make a film based on Green Lantern, the filmmakers chose the silver age GL, Hal Jordan, instead of more recent incarnations.] The silver age characters simply have a certain mythic appeal.
The book not only looks at popular and lesser-known series [including those from smaller publishers such as Charlton and Gold Key], commenting on the most interesting stories, it also examines the artists who were prominent during this period, and looks at why their work could be so effective on different strips. Jack "King" Kirby, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Jim Steranko, Steve Ditko, Neal Adams and others were giants, extremely talented illustrators whose dynamic work added immeasureably to the popularity of each character and series. The book also looks at how different comics reflected -- or didn't reflect -- the changing mores and attitudes of the turbulent times when civil rights, women's rights, and other social movements got more and more attention.
WILLIAM SCHOELL is the author of many books on pop culture, film and the performing arts, as well as biographies. His film and pop culture books include Comic Book Heroes of the Screen; The Nightmare Never Ends: The Official History of Freddy Kruger and the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street' Films; Creature Features: Nature Turned Nasty in the Movies and Stay Out of the Shower, the first book to look at Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" and its influence. His biographies include the natonal bestseller The Rat Pack: Neon Nights with the Kings of Cool; Martini Man: The Life of Dean Martin and The Sundance Kid: The Life of Robert Redford. as well as studies of such figures as Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Giuseppi Verdi, H. P. Lovecraft, Dorothy Dandridge, and Sammy Davis Jr. for young adults. His novels include Fatal Beauty, The Pact, The Dragon, Late at Night and Saurian. Schoell is a native New Yorker.