Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary

Author: Bill Schelly

Price: $15.50

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: North Atlantic Books (June 7, 2016)

Language: English

Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches

1. Introduction

Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary chronicles the career of Otto Binder, from pulp magazine author to writer of Supergirl, Captain Marvel, and Superman comics. As the originator of the first sentient robot in literature ("I, Robot," published in Amazing Stories in 1939 and predating Isaac Asimov's collection of the same name), Binder's effect on science fiction was profound. Within the world of comic books, he created or co-created much of the Superman universe, including Smallville; Krypto, Superboy's dog; Supergirl; and the villain Braniac. Binder is also credited with writing many of the first "Bizarro" storylines for DC Comics, as well as for being the main writer for the Captain Marvel comics. In later years, Binder expanded from comic books into pure science writing, publishing dozens of books and articles on the subject of satellites and space travel as well as UFOs and extraterrestrial life. Comic book historian Bill Schelly tells the tale of Otto Binder through comic panels, personal letters, and interviews with Binder's own family and friends. Schelly weaves together Binder's professional successes and personal tragedies, including the death of Binder's only daughter and his wife's struggle with mental illness. A touching and human story, Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary is a biography that is both meticulously researched and beautifully told, keeping alive Binder's spirit of scientific curiosity and whimsy.

Bill Schelly has been immersed in the world of science fiction and comics since the mid-1960s, making his first contributions to the pop culture fringe through his comics fanzine Sense of Wonder. Schelly began meticulously researching the history of comics fandom in the 1990s and has since published many books on the subject. He is currently the associate editor of the Eisner Award-winning magazine Alter Ego. His recent books include The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1950s and Harvey Kurtzman, The Man Who Created Mad.

2. Comment

1) By Amazon fan on April 14, 2016

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )

I have always been a comic book enthusiast, so much so that my love for the medium led me to pursue a career in the commercial arts field. I was overjoyed when I received an advance copy of Bill Schelly's informative and highly enjoyable biography of golden age comic and sci-fi pioneer, Otto Binder. Mr. Schelly, associate editor of ALTER EGO magazine and the chronicler of such notable comic book creators as Kurtzman and Kubert, has done the world of fandom a favor by rereleasing his pricy 2003 out-of-print hardcover, WORDS OF WONDER: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF OTTO BINDER with a new affordable paperback edition. For the uninitiated, Otto Binder had a long and varied career ranging from literary agent, editor and author of pulp fiction stories (with his brother and collaborator, Earl), hundreds of comics for many major publishers and many paranormal and science fiction novels (one of which is the critically acclaimed WHAT WE REALLY KNOW ABOUT FLYING SAUCERS). Mr. Schelly not only does a fantastic job of examining Binder's life but expertly switches his focus to the publishing industry in which he so thrived; and for any fan or historian of the genre I found these passages utterly fascinating. This edition is generously illustrated with a whole host of comic book artwork, personal photographs and manuscript pages, novels and magazine covers and even includes a extensive bibliography of Otto's (including the collaborations with Earl) works. If you have the tiny bit of curiosity about the early days of pulps and comics and this talented man who authored them, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to purchase this book.

2) By Virginia E. Johnson on June 17, 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

“An Interesting Look At One of The Giants of the Comic Book Industry.”

Growing up during the so-called Golden Age of the comic books, I never thought about the men and women behind the comic books I was reading. I discovered Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman when my parents moved to the big city when I was seven years old; these and others became my escape from reality. My real discovery, however, was Captain Marvel and later, The Marvel Family. As a kid, it was enough that they entertained me, and became a huge part of my reading. I read comic books off and on until 1980 (age 40), when I no longer felt any interest in them. But looking back on my youth, and a media that was so important at the time, I couldn’t pass up this book.

Bill Schelly gathers letters and interviews from many of those in the comic book industry who knew Otto Binder, one of the main writers for Captain Marvel and The Marvel Family, and put this biography together. I believe it is an updated reprint of a previous edition, with added material. Whatever the case, the author gives us a behind the scenes look at the man and his craft, the good times and the bad, and not only what the industry did to him, but what decision he made that proved disastrous, as well. Otto Binder entertained millions of kids for over thirty years. Beginning his writing career in science fiction pulp magazines, where little was published of literary quality, it sparked his ambition to become a writer. Not many of his pulp stories rose above the rest of the early junk being published, but his Adam Link stories certainly fascinated the readers and other media of the day. Going into comic book writing was better pay for less work, and his output became a herculean affair.

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