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Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero

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<p>"Fingeroth's book is an easy, intriguing read, exploring the histories of superheroes and their creators. This is clearly a topic in which Fingeroth is eminently well-versed." <br/>-<em>Jewish Book World</em></p><br/><p> "Like a Yiddish theater play on the old Jewish Second Avenue, or like a really good comic book <p>"Fingeroth's book is an easy, intriguing read, exploring the histories of superheroes and their creators. This is clearly a topic in which Fingeroth is eminently well-versed." <br/>-<em>Jewish Book World</em></p><br/><p> "Like a Yiddish theater play on the old Jewish Second Avenue, or like a really good comic book, Danny will make you laugh, cry and, best of all, he'll make you think."<br/>--From the foreword by Stan Lee</p><br/><p>In Disguised as Clark Kent, Danny Fingeroth--a long-time executive in the comics business who wrote and edited Spider-Man as well as other famous lines for Marvel--reflects on the phenomenon of the heavily Jewish elements that, consciously or not, went into the creation of the superhero. <br/>Centering on questions of Jewish identity, which is historically about the push and pull toward and away from that very identity, <em>Disguised as Clark Kent</em> brings valuable insight into the fantasies that fuel our imaginations and entertainment industry, as well as many significant and often hidden aspects of our society.<br/></p>>


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<p>"Fingeroth's book is an easy, intriguing read, exploring the histories of superheroes and their creators. This is clearly a topic in which Fingeroth is eminently well-versed." <br/>-<em>Jewish Book World</em></p><br/><p> "Like a Yiddish theater play on the old Jewish Second Avenue, or like a really good comic book <p>"Fingeroth's book is an easy, intriguing read, exploring the histories of superheroes and their creators. This is clearly a topic in which Fingeroth is eminently well-versed." <br/>-<em>Jewish Book World</em></p><br/><p> "Like a Yiddish theater play on the old Jewish Second Avenue, or like a really good comic book, Danny will make you laugh, cry and, best of all, he'll make you think."<br/>--From the foreword by Stan Lee</p><br/><p>In Disguised as Clark Kent, Danny Fingeroth--a long-time executive in the comics business who wrote and edited Spider-Man as well as other famous lines for Marvel--reflects on the phenomenon of the heavily Jewish elements that, consciously or not, went into the creation of the superhero. <br/>Centering on questions of Jewish identity, which is historically about the push and pull toward and away from that very identity, <em>Disguised as Clark Kent</em> brings valuable insight into the fantasies that fuel our imaginations and entertainment industry, as well as many significant and often hidden aspects of our society.<br/></p>>

30 review for Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Fingeroth traces the connection between Jewish comic artists and writers to their comic creations from such comic creators as Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Stan Lee, Bob Kane, Claremont, DeMatteis, etc... The themes tended to focus on the hero departing one place for another ( Superman going from Krypton to Earth ), being oppressed or even hated ( X-men ), and other connections. A lot of the greats in comic history all went to the same high school in the Bronx at DeWitt Cli Fingeroth traces the connection between Jewish comic artists and writers to their comic creations from such comic creators as Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Stan Lee, Bob Kane, Claremont, DeMatteis, etc... The themes tended to focus on the hero departing one place for another ( Superman going from Krypton to Earth ), being oppressed or even hated ( X-men ), and other connections. A lot of the greats in comic history all went to the same high school in the Bronx at DeWitt Clinton including Eisner, Siegel, Shuster, Kirby, Kane, Kurtzman, Feldstein, and many others. Fascinating how all them went to that same school.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Burgess

    I’ll be honest here, I waited a little too long after I read the book to write a spectacular review, For this I apologize. Here’s what I do know. Recently I’ve had a growing little interest in comics – I read a graphic novel about The Carter Family which I absolutely loved. Then I bought my husband a Batman comic anthology and I find myself sneaking into it quite often. It seems this book came to me at the perfect time. If nothing else, it was a wonderful introduction to the history of comics, s I’ll be honest here, I waited a little too long after I read the book to write a spectacular review, For this I apologize. Here’s what I do know. Recently I’ve had a growing little interest in comics – I read a graphic novel about The Carter Family which I absolutely loved. Then I bought my husband a Batman comic anthology and I find myself sneaking into it quite often. It seems this book came to me at the perfect time. If nothing else, it was a wonderful introduction to the history of comics, superheroes, etc. The reason I just felt so-so about the work as a whole is simply because I got sort of bored after a while. I was really into reading about how comics began but I sort of dazed off into space after a while as the potential connections to the Jewish-American experience trailed on. For the first half of the book I thought all of the possible connections the author drew were really interesting and clever, but without really having any experience with the superheroes, other than seeing a few movies, it only held my interest for so long. Of course, this is probably more of a personal problem than a reflection of the writing itself (which honestly applies to 90% of my reviews anyway, sorry hardworking authors of the world.) Speaking of the author, something about the way he wrote just spoke to me and said “Elizabeth, you want to be friends with this man.” So, whoever you are, your writing was very friendly and familiar. It seems like you really care about the Jewish-American connection to the development of these superheroes and did your research with an endearing, genuine sense of passion. No condescending, affected under and/or overtones that I very often get from non-fiction – just a pal teaching me about comics. Well done man, well done.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fraser Sherman

    Jewish writers, artists and editors — Julius Schwartz, Mort Weisinger, Will Eisner, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and of course Shuster and Siegel — created the superhero and a lot of other comics besides. The standard assumption is that shut out of more prestigious fields, they slid into a creative world hungry for anyone with talent. Fingeroth suggests they were drawn to ideas that expressed the trauma of the Jewish immigrant experience. Superman, a guy who'd left his entire culture behind; Batman, wh Jewish writers, artists and editors — Julius Schwartz, Mort Weisinger, Will Eisner, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and of course Shuster and Siegel — created the superhero and a lot of other comics besides. The standard assumption is that shut out of more prestigious fields, they slid into a creative world hungry for anyone with talent. Fingeroth suggests they were drawn to ideas that expressed the trauma of the Jewish immigrant experience. Superman, a guy who'd left his entire culture behind; Batman, whose family had achieved success, then it was torn away with them; Captain America, whose first cover showed him punching out Hitler. No argument on Cap, but the rest? Some definite (Chris Claremont has talked about Judaism's influence on X-Men). Some of it is plausible, but so are a hundred other interpretations (e.g. Superman reflects Jerry Siegel losing his father as a kid). Some just aren't — is Peter Parker really an awkward Jewish teen rather than just an shy teen? In the end it's less convincing than Super Boys was showing the Cleveland influence on Siegel and Shuter.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ariela Housman

    This would have been a tight essay at half the length. It didn't feel like there was really enough to justify the length of the book. At times it was quite repetitive. My biggest issue with the book, aside from the fact that I didn't feel there was really enough content to cover the length, was that Fingeroth identifies a lot of elements of early comics that seem Jewish to him, but he never adequately addresses the possibility that they might have other causes in addition or instead. The book had This would have been a tight essay at half the length. It didn't feel like there was really enough to justify the length of the book. At times it was quite repetitive. My biggest issue with the book, aside from the fact that I didn't feel there was really enough content to cover the length, was that Fingeroth identifies a lot of elements of early comics that seem Jewish to him, but he never adequately addresses the possibility that they might have other causes in addition or instead. The book had some good points, but overall I expected something more in-depth than what I got.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Roy Schwartz

    Insightful, witty, written breezily, and overall thoughtful, though some ideas are left curiously and unsatisfyingly underdeveloped or unexplored.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Jews & comics is pretty pleasant stuff as far as academic cottage industries go -- that is, teasing out the way the post-Holocaust emigre values of early superhero creators defined the medium. There's a lot to be said, especially looking towards Will Eisner, Art Speigelmen, Harvey Pekar, and others. Danny Fingeroth--a former Spiderman editor--keeps his focus pretty narrow, on the superheroes only. Even there, he remains a bit stiff, but not thorough enough to be impressively rigorous. Wish it we Jews & comics is pretty pleasant stuff as far as academic cottage industries go -- that is, teasing out the way the post-Holocaust emigre values of early superhero creators defined the medium. There's a lot to be said, especially looking towards Will Eisner, Art Speigelmen, Harvey Pekar, and others. Danny Fingeroth--a former Spiderman editor--keeps his focus pretty narrow, on the superheroes only. Even there, he remains a bit stiff, but not thorough enough to be impressively rigorous. Wish it went further into the daily lives of Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, etc., via oral history. Haven't had a chance to read the whole thing, but Arie Kaplan's "Frow Krakow to Krypton" looks like a much more readable and thorough exploration of the topic (with better illustrations, taboot).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson

    I happen to know Danny so you'll have to take that into consideration. Having said that, the reason I know Danny is partially because I read this book and wanted to meet him in order to further my research on a biography. He knows his subject thoroughly and just because he's writing about comics don't assume, it's not a very smartly written book. His take on the Superman myth is erudite and scholarly and really interesting. There is a lot of soul in this book as well. I highly recommend for anyo I happen to know Danny so you'll have to take that into consideration. Having said that, the reason I know Danny is partially because I read this book and wanted to meet him in order to further my research on a biography. He knows his subject thoroughly and just because he's writing about comics don't assume, it's not a very smartly written book. His take on the Superman myth is erudite and scholarly and really interesting. There is a lot of soul in this book as well. I highly recommend for anyone interested in comics research and history as well as anyone who enjoys popular culture.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Orla

    One of the few comprehensive academic books on this theory. Not sure I agree with it all but it's a good read. One of the few comprehensive academic books on this theory. Not sure I agree with it all but it's a good read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chelsee

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sgt Roman Hunter

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Richards

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian Callahan

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dennis G

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  17. 4 out of 5

    Henrik

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lance Eaton

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julian Voloj

  20. 4 out of 5

    Frank

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eli

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary Gebhard

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey M

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jaq Greenspon

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michael Sowinski

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amylou Ahava

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Jacob

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura D'amore

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tara Ann

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