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Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics

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Some are mild mannered geeks, others mad geniuses or street-smart city dwellers driven to action. These are the men and women behind the masks and tights of America’s most beloved superheroes. But these aren’t the stories of the heroes’ hidden alter egos or secret identities…these are the stories of their creators! Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics Some are mild mannered geeks, others mad geniuses or street-smart city dwellers driven to action. These are the men and women behind the masks and tights of America’s most beloved superheroes. But these aren’t the stories of the heroes’ hidden alter egos or secret identities…these are the stories of their creators! Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics gives you the truth about the history of the American comic book—straight from the revolutionary artists and writers behind them. From the founders of the popular comics website Graphic NYC—writer Christopher Irving and photographer Seth Kushner—comes the firsthand accounts of the comic book’s story, from its birth in the late 1930s to its current renaissance on movie screens and digital readers everywhere. Kushner’s evocative photography captures the subjects that Irving profiles in a hard-hitting narrative style derived from personal interviews with the legends of the art, all of which is accompanied by examples of their work in the form of original art, sketches, and final panels and covers. The creators profiled include Captain America creator Joe Simon, Marvel guru Stan Lee, Mad magazine’s fold-out artist Al Jaffee, visionary illustrator Neal Adams (Batman), underground paragon Art Spiegelman (Maus), X-Men writer Chris Claremont, artist/writer/director Frank Miller (Sin City, 300), comic analyst Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics), American Splendor’s Harvey Pekar, painter Alex Ross (Kingdom Come), multitalented artist and designer Chris Ware (Acme Novelty Library), artist Jill Thompson (Sandman), and more. Leaping Tall Buildings, like comics themselves, uses both words and images to tell the true story of the comic’s birth and evolution in America. It is a comprehensive look at the medium unlike any other ever compiled covering high and low art, mass market work and niche innovations. It is the story of an art form and an insider’s look at the creative process of the artists who bring our heroes to life.


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Some are mild mannered geeks, others mad geniuses or street-smart city dwellers driven to action. These are the men and women behind the masks and tights of America’s most beloved superheroes. But these aren’t the stories of the heroes’ hidden alter egos or secret identities…these are the stories of their creators! Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics Some are mild mannered geeks, others mad geniuses or street-smart city dwellers driven to action. These are the men and women behind the masks and tights of America’s most beloved superheroes. But these aren’t the stories of the heroes’ hidden alter egos or secret identities…these are the stories of their creators! Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics gives you the truth about the history of the American comic book—straight from the revolutionary artists and writers behind them. From the founders of the popular comics website Graphic NYC—writer Christopher Irving and photographer Seth Kushner—comes the firsthand accounts of the comic book’s story, from its birth in the late 1930s to its current renaissance on movie screens and digital readers everywhere. Kushner’s evocative photography captures the subjects that Irving profiles in a hard-hitting narrative style derived from personal interviews with the legends of the art, all of which is accompanied by examples of their work in the form of original art, sketches, and final panels and covers. The creators profiled include Captain America creator Joe Simon, Marvel guru Stan Lee, Mad magazine’s fold-out artist Al Jaffee, visionary illustrator Neal Adams (Batman), underground paragon Art Spiegelman (Maus), X-Men writer Chris Claremont, artist/writer/director Frank Miller (Sin City, 300), comic analyst Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics), American Splendor’s Harvey Pekar, painter Alex Ross (Kingdom Come), multitalented artist and designer Chris Ware (Acme Novelty Library), artist Jill Thompson (Sandman), and more. Leaping Tall Buildings, like comics themselves, uses both words and images to tell the true story of the comic’s birth and evolution in America. It is a comprehensive look at the medium unlike any other ever compiled covering high and low art, mass market work and niche innovations. It is the story of an art form and an insider’s look at the creative process of the artists who bring our heroes to life.

30 review for Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    A great looking book. But not essential in any way. On page 79, the author calls Carmine Infantino the "head cheese of National Comics." That's when I started skimming... Full review here: http://superheronovels.com/2012/07/14... A great looking book. But not essential in any way. On page 79, the author calls Carmine Infantino the "head cheese of National Comics." That's when I started skimming... Full review here: http://superheronovels.com/2012/07/14...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    pretty useless except the shot of Kim Deitch's workspace. pretty useless except the shot of Kim Deitch's workspace.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris Irving

    This is what happens when you google your old work. I appreciate all these reviews from so long ago. I'd love to address these really fair points right here for all of you to see! This book, while I'm proud of it, had its challenges! Strike one was on me: We created this book out of our website www.nycgraphicnovelists.com (it should be on the Wayback machine: I had it archived), which featured really long in-depth essays on each creator. I mean, these were killer to write. However, the book itsel This is what happens when you google your old work. I appreciate all these reviews from so long ago. I'd love to address these really fair points right here for all of you to see! This book, while I'm proud of it, had its challenges! Strike one was on me: We created this book out of our website www.nycgraphicnovelists.com (it should be on the Wayback machine: I had it archived), which featured really long in-depth essays on each creator. I mean, these were killer to write. However, the book itself had gained so many subjects by the time of publication, and we only had 240 pages, my original draft was cut down substantially for space. If anyone wants to look at my rough draft of the original manuscript, hit me up: I'd love to share it. But many of you are right: The writing wasn't able to deliver the scope of what it set out to be. Trust me, no one feels that more than myself. Strike two! The subjects NOT in there came from an absence of being able to photograph them, and we let ourselves get locked into a format for this. We just couldn't get R. Crumb (and we tried). Same with Dan Clowes. Most of it was down to availability (with a tiny advance to work with, Seth and I were limited to whoever we could get in NYC or nearby, with our one trip to Chicago to get Alex Ross, Chris Ware, and a few others). We got Carmine for the site, but Carmine was not a pleasure to deal with afterwards, and we felt leaving his piece out of the book was the wise move. If I were to do this today (Seth, sadly, passed away a few years ago of cancer), I would use Kickstarter or Patreon to fund travel and photos, or engage multiple photographers. I would also self-publish it. For those who left us, like Dick Giordano and Gil Kane, I'd work them in through the use of their art, somehow. So, things I learned that I hope any of you aspiring writers heed: --Sometimes, it's better to cut out the middle man and create the full project you want as a self-publisher, rather than settling for the prestige of a publisher at a creative loss. With print-on-demand, it's not as hard as you'd think. However, if you are lucky to land a big enough publisher, go with one that's published books like yours. --Think big, but make sure your final word comes out at the grand scale you envisioned. --Think big, but also be realistic: it's sometimes better to focus in on a bigger piece of the whole. --Stand by your work, warts and all. I'm still very proud of the years Seth and I spent on this. Both it and the French edition have a place of honor in my study. Thanks!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Good portraits, interviews and write-ups about the people who created American comics.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tony Tower

    Decent read, great photos.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David Macpherson

    The photos of the comic creators were wonderful and full of energy and character. That was the big selling point to this book. The essays that are trying to link these people to the history of American Comics is really sketchy. Some of it is good with good annecdotes and decent basic info, and some, if you don't know the history of comics already you will be lost. There were some pretty big gaps too, they talked a lot about R Crumb but did not feature him. They left out a lot of important people The photos of the comic creators were wonderful and full of energy and character. That was the big selling point to this book. The essays that are trying to link these people to the history of American Comics is really sketchy. Some of it is good with good annecdotes and decent basic info, and some, if you don't know the history of comics already you will be lost. There were some pretty big gaps too, they talked a lot about R Crumb but did not feature him. They left out a lot of important people. Another person they talked about a lot but didn't feature was Carmine Infantino. Not enough women in the book also. Finally the last 20 pages were like from a different book, it dealt with digital web comics. Not only was the focus different, the format was different for this as well. I liked it, it was a nice little book for those who dig this kind of thing, who have info from other sources.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lucas Brown

    A book whose reach exceeded its grasp. Some excellent interviews with some old standbys of 60s comics, and a fantastic selection of underground writers and artists, but some of the profiles are shockingly short, with only one actual quote from the writer/artist. Still worth a look, though, and a beautifully put together book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Eric Hart

  9. 4 out of 5

    Greg Parker

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Daniels

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meghann

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  13. 4 out of 5

    ComicNerdSam

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Abramowitz

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Seven

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  18. 5 out of 5

    John Wayda

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Jacob

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joe Canas

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  22. 4 out of 5

    Solomon White

  23. 4 out of 5

    CeeJay Lovejoy

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joe Higgins

  26. 4 out of 5

    Blake Corrao

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steven Seelig

  28. 5 out of 5

    Victor

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Muaja

  30. 4 out of 5

    Louis Prosperi

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