‘Superheroes!’: The Book You Need, and the Documentary You Should Watch


For a long time, comic books and their fans have been treated rather poorly by the entertainment industry. Television and film writers have in the past used “comic book reader” as a kind of cultural shorthand for nerd or misfit, while simultaneously using comic books themselves as the basis for blockbuster movies. Thankfully, these times seem to be mostly behind us: Films like “The Avengers” regularly dominate the movies, and “nerd” culture – traditionally the domain of comic book fandom -is now considered “cool”. For the first time ever, it’s “okay” to like comic books, because Batman, Spider-Man and other comic book icons who have successfully crossed over into the movies have made everyone fans. People who used to ignore comic books suddenly have questions (“Who is this ‘Mandarin’ character?” “Why is The Joker so crazy?”) and there’s almost a century of comic book source material there to provide those answers. (Good luck getting a definitive answer to the second question, though.)

As most old fans know, and new ones are discovering, the creators of comic books and the culture that surrounds them is as interesting as the stories themselves. A new book, Superheroes! Capes, Cowls, And the Creation of Comic Book Culture, opens the door to that world – and what a wild, beautiful world that is. A companion volume to the PBS series “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle”, this gorgeous volume dives head-first into the often controversial history of the comic book, from its beginning as the brainchild of a handful of creative young minds to its current status as an industry powerhouse responsible for some of the biggest trends in the entertainment world. Writers Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor bring the reader along for a grand tour celebrating the triumph of this exciting, uniquely American art form, and its impact on society as a whole. Clocking in at over 304 pages, Superheroes! is crammed full of rare photos, art, and over 50 interviews with some of comic book fandom’s biggest stars: Industry leaders like Stan Lee, writers like Grant Morrison and actors like Lynda Carter and Adam West. In short, it’s a must-have for comic book fans.

The book goes on sale today and the documentary “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle” premieres on October 15 at 8 PM. You won’t want to miss either. Learn more about the book here and the documentary here.