The Gang's All Here
After experiencing the low-level tactics used against him in 1938 to force him into bankruptcy and take his company, DC Comics, out from under him, the Major in stiff upper lip manner, refused to ever mention it again, believing in the adage that one day the rascals would get what was coming to them… BI (Before the Internet) information was scattered in a newspaper here and a magazine there and often unavailable. News did not rocket around at the speed of light becoming viral in nature. It never occurred to the Major that one day all the misinformation and half-truths and insinuations about him would be almost the only things that remained of his legacy.
Thanks to the work of some of the artists, writers and comic book and pulp historians listed below the true story of the Major’s legacy is becoming more widely known.
Howard Cruse: Many thanks to Howard for the right to use his beautiful drawing of the Major here on the website, blog, Facebook and elsewhere. Howard is a long time friend and one of the best of working artists today with many credits to his name including The Village Voice. His graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby should not be missed. A new edition, published by Vertigo, DC's line for comics and books for mature readers is now available. It has a foreword from Alison Bechtel and a haunting new cover from Howard. There is oh, so much more. If you don't know his work do yourself a favor and rush over to his blog.
Drew Friedman:Drew is another fine artists working today. He has many books to his credit including the 2014 release Heroes of the Comics: Portraits of the Legends of Comic Books published by the good people at FantagraphicsBooks. Besides the portrait and information on the Major, Heroes is filled with 75 stunning illustrations of comic book legends from the industry’s birth into the 50’s. Each portrait is accompanied by a short essay.
Comics Scholarship and Anecdotal History: Much of the history of comics until recently is a repetition of what scholars refer to as anecdotal evidence--great stories we all love. However some of them might be a bit enhanced for dramatic effect or may be skewed by axes the teller has to grind. That's why academic scholarship and detailed research are important to add to all the fun stories from early pioneers in the genre. Much of what was known about the Major falls under the category of anecdotal evidence and that’s why the following books are good reads towards learning the facts of the Major’s life.
Brad Ricca: Brad is a comics historian and professor at Case Western whose book Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster was released in 2013 with a new paperback edition released in 2014. Brad generously included a chapter on the Major in his detailed study of Siegel and Shuster, the creators of Superman. We appreciate his careful fact checking and shared information. Super Boys is not only a fun read but also full of new information.
Larry Tye: One of the important aspects about Larry Tye’s book, Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Herois that Larry is not a comics historian. He is a renowned journalist and non-fiction writer so his approach is to the subject of Superman is novel and well researched. We were pleased to share information with Larry and appreciate his including the Major’s story as part of his book. Published in 2012 Superman is a book to be referred to time and again for the wealth of information included. It’s also a great read.
Tom DeHaven: Tom, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University is mostly a fictional writer and one of the writers other writers envy. He has a very unique style and his fictional books about comics are great. Derby Dugan's Depression Funnieswas the 1997 American Book Award winner. It's Superman details the life of Clark Kent just after graduation from High School in Smallville and prior to his arrival in Metropolis. The ever-delightful blog, Bookslut has an excellent review with more detail. Tom very generously involved us in a non-fiction book for Yale University Press, Superman, Our Hero on Earth published in 2010 and made every effort to ensure that his information about the Major was correct. He is one of the true gentleman and scholars. Check out his blog.
Ron Goulart: Ron’s book Comic Book Culture: An Illustrated History published in 2000 is another classic. Ron is not only an excellent comics and pulp historian but has always treated the Major like a real person, not a cartoon character. Mr. Goulart spent his time wisely listening to all the pioneers in comics and is a storehouse of information. His non-fiction books are well-researched and great reads. You couldn't do better than to start with him if you're new to the game. And don't forget to check out his fiction.