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In March 2013, during the Q&A after an educators conference in Georgia, a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory suggested I send a copy of each book to the show. Though I don’t watch it (heresy!), I know it regularly references superheroes. I didn’t see what the producers might do with my books...yet this audience member kept kindly suggesting (almost insisting), and eventually I was convinced.
What did I want from this? Well, this woman seemed to think the true stories in these books could inspire a storyline on the show. I felt that is probably unlikely, but I am a never-hurts-to-try guy. In any case, I’d be thrilled if either or both could be added to the set, even if for just a scene. I believe they are the kinds of books the characters would own...
On Facebook, I asked if anyone in my network has a connection to anyone connected to the show, and within minutes, I heard from a friend who is friends with Kaley Cuoco’s makeup artist. She happened to be supremely nice, and offered to pass along my books, so I sent them to her. Every time I followed up, she was equally nice and complimentary.
As of now, nothing has come of it. But you can’t predict a big bang…
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So, what would you like FREE from Granny Grimthorpe’s cauldron? Come along to the book signing for ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ at Waterstones, Wigan on Saturday 22nd March from 12 to 3pm and take your pick!
One of the things that Bill Finger, star of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, was known for was including larger-than-life everyday objects in his scripts. I contacted the Kevin, hoping there would be an opportunity to borrow/rent his titanic typewriter for a Bill the Boy Wonder promotional event in New York. While oversized cool, the typewriter alone would not be enough.
At BookExpo America 2010, I was thrilled to see a 10x10 foot typewriter in the booth of Abrams Books (to promote the book Monumental: The Reimagined World of Kevin O’Callaghan):
We’d need a Batman as well. And I knew just the one:
inspired by the Mego dolls of the 1970s…AKA 68% of my childhood I didn’t hear back, and no such event materialized, but the vision persists in my mind.
We did it! Thank you so much to each and every one of you who voted!
Finnegan and Fox: The Ten Foot Cop has been selected by the Creative Child Awards committee (consisting of moms and educators) for a 2013 SEAL OF EXCELLENCE AWARD in the Kids Storybooks category!
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I didn’t get into reading fantasy literature until a bit later in life, but something tells me that as a kid with a voracious appetite for books, I would’ve loved to have picked up Lynne North’s Caution: Witch in Progress. I’m very delighted to feature this book to you all, so take a peek and check out Ms. North’s work!
Children’s Fantasy, humor
Gertie Grimthorpe is born into a society of witches and grows up in Vile Vale, but there is something very wrong with her…
She is beautiful and couldn’t be nasty if she tried. When she finds out that she is to attend a private academy for magical children, Gertie hopes to find her witchy way in the world. With a moat monster suffering from stomach ache, a short-sighted owl familiar and mishaps galore, Gertie’s adventures are hilarious and heartwarming.
Join Gertie as she struggles with growing up (and longing to grow her first wart), learning magic and working out how to deal with a grumpy enchanted umbrella, named Bat.
“What a wonderful read this book is! Fun and laughter from beginning to end. Are we getting anymore ‘Gertie’ books? Can’t wait!” – Amazon Review
Amazon is running a special on kids’ book throughout September—all under ten bucks. Among them is Jack and the Giant Barbecue. What a sweet deal!
In an article about introducing kids to careers. Click here and scroll down a little.
No Bob Kane defenders here! Thanks for having me on, Chris (@theisb)!
One morn, I got an e-mail from Vistaprint announcing that, for that day only, you could order some promotional items for no charge.
This is why I am now the proud (and, in some cases, temporary) owner of the following Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman collectibles:
circular envelope seals
vertical vinyl banner
car door magnet (which I have renamed file cabinet magnet)
Plus I had already ordered oval labels that I use as bookplates:
On 5/5/13 (National Cartoonists Day), I spoke about Batman and Bill Finger at Washington Hebrew Congregation, “the area’s largest Jewish congregation and among the largest Reform congregations in the country.”
The audience was great and I always love giving this talk, but the highlight: Batman cake pops.
Of the various radio interviews I have done, the 7/25/13 one with Jon Waterhouse on “Pop Culture King” on Atlanta’s AM 1690 was one of the most fun. Partly because it was the first on my “Girl in the Video” series, and partly because Jon is such a polished radio personality. My segment begins at 16:26 though you will want to listen to the whole show.
Oh, and partly because I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve shared a headline with this guy:
Thanks again for having me on, Jon. I want my Pop Cult King!
Today Bill Finger was on Today, the homepage of The Today Show.
Equal standing with the royal baby, baby! It also made the homepages of NBC News and MSN (where it was an Editors’ Pick).The Today screen capture:As you can see, the biggest American news story of the day was a tragedy on a grander scale: the plane crash in San Francisco. I apologize that showing a screenshot of this Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman coverage juxtaposes an incident in which people died and were hurt. My condolences to the people affected.
Among the retweeters are the unlikely pair of Lou Dobbs and Steve Niles.I’m further honored that Niles favorited my acknowledgment of his tweet.
Longtime DC Comics writer J.M. DeMatteis, of whom I’m a fan, retweeted Niles.
Most importantly, thank you to Rick Schindler for writing the story about my story.
With the release of Man of Steel, Voice of America asked me about Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman.VOA is a government institution. Its radio broadcasts are aimed at people living outside the United States for whom English is probably not the native language. It was my first experience with it. I was told to speak slowly and without difficult vocabulary. Up, up, and far, far away...
On 6/28/13, I was thrilled to make my second consecutive appearance at the Children’s Literature Conference at Shenandoah University in Virginia; this was the 28th annual.
It is one of my favorite conferences.
My schedule this year:
- 1.5-hour writing workshop with middle schoolers
- presentation to educators
- two breakout Q&A sessions with educators
- book signing
- turkey and cheese croissant sandwich
The hallmarks from last year all made welcome (except for the heat) returns.
Star-studded roster:Beautiful hand-painted banner (all by the same student!) representing every author:A mug with our names on it: Extreme bookselling:
Bathroom signs featuring author and book quotations:At first I read this as "You will agree to come with me," which is as lovely a description as any for a person surrendering to a good book.
Thank you again to Karen Huff, my kind right-hand woman Becky, and the rest of the crew for making this a must-attend conference. And thank you to the audiences, who were more than receptive and engaged throughout. I look forward to visiting as many of your schools as I can...and I look forward to (hopefully) seeing you at the 29th.
On 5/15/13, I had the pleasure of returning to the 92nd Street Y in New York to speak about a Great Event that happened not far from there: the creation of Batman.
This was a comp ticket; as shown in the previous image, people actually had to part with
$29 to hear me, which I thought would mean (far) fewer than 29 would show up.
The venue alone was an honor, as was the fact that people I care about came to listen, including a gaggle of college friends:One of the three people to whom the book is dedicated also humbled me with his attendance: Charles Sinclair, Bill’s longtime friend and sometime writing partner.Like the last time I spoke at the Y (2009), I took a photo of the room before I started:But unlike the last time, I forgot to take one of the room once it’d filled in, which was the point.The event generated some wonderful coverage.
And the coverage generated some wonderful coverage.
More than 350 likes and almost 50 shares for the Facebook link to the Newsarama article.
Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen weighed in on Facebook. Thank you again to Sidney Burgos for hosting me. Hope to speak under your roof again.
For the second year in a row, I’m thrilled to be on the author roster of the Jewish Book Council Network.
Last year I got to talk about Batman. This year Superman. And as if on cue, upon arriving in New York City on 6/2/13 to give my two-minute pitch to a roomful of programming directors from 100 Jewish institutions across North America, I see and snap this:
The scene juxtaposes two American icons forged in the same decade: the Empire State Building (completed 1931) and the Man of Steel (conceived 1933, debuted 1938).
The room in which about 50 authors presented back-to-back, and some of the people to whom we presented:I look forward to coming to as many of your communities as possible over the next year.
Here was my two-minute pitch:
During dangerous times, a baby boy is born. For his own good, his parents give him up, sending him off in a vessel. Another family finds him and raises him as their own, without knowing where he came from. Eventually, he learns his history…and his destiny…and becomes a savior.
Yes, Moses…but also Superman. As his planet is about to explode, his parents launch him to safety in a rocket. He lands on Earth an infant, a Kansas couple adopts him, and he grows up to be the world’s greatest superhero.
He was also the world’s first, created during the Depression by two Jewish teens, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. They were geeks before the word existed.
Was the Moses parallel intentional? Did Hitler himself call Superman a Jew and ban his comics from Nazi Germany? What is the Jewish connection to Superman’s Kryptonian name? And why did Shabbat prevent Joe from drawing Superman? No, not the obvious reason!
Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman answers these questions, debunks myths, and solves mysteries. It’s an all-ages book and the first standalone bio on the men of Cleveland behind the Man of Steel. It’s both inspirational and heartbreaking—even to people who couldn’t care less about superheroes. It reveals a discovery that made the front page of USA Today. It in part led to my TED talk. And it’s an Association of Jewish Libraries Notable Book of Jewish Content, the revised edition of which is out this year for the 75th anniversary of Superman.
I’ve been invited to speak to standing-room-only adult audiences at Jewish institutions nationwide, and I’m thrilled to be on the JBC Network for the second year in a row. Let’s celebrate this icon together, along with truth, justice, and the Jewish-American way.
Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman came out in hardcover in 2008, and is still reprinted in that format. When, several years ago, I first suggested putting out a special 75th-anniversary-of-Superman edition in 2013, I was envisioning it in hardcover as well. My author copies arrived 5/24/13, AKA a week before June, which marks the cover date of Action Comics #1 (1938) and the release of the latest screen iteration of Superman, Man of Steel, not to mention my friend Brad Ricca’s exhaustively researched book Super Boys.
Random House agreed to the anniversary edition but in paperback; it sports not only the celebratory banner but also a few corrections.
The summer of Superman is in full force...again.
On 1/11/13, at 11:30 p.m., I was interviewed for the second time by a radio show out of New York called Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction. The topic was Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman; though Batman is not sci-fi, the show host, Dr. Howard Margolin, is good to me. This is the second time he has had me on...and my Boy Wonder illustrator, Ty Templeton, beat me to it by, oh, 21 years. Yes, he was first interviewed by Howard in 1987.
Thank you again, Howard.
On 11/6/12, AKA Election Day in America, I made my second appearance at the annual conference of New York City school librarians. The day’s duties comprised a presentation on Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman (in the city where it took place), a book signing, and author speed dating. I’ve long wanted to do that. In this case, it was six or seven tables of librarians, six or seven rotating authors, sixty minutes of madcap Q&A.
The conference was held in a high school and the book sales/signings were in the gym. I was thrilled to see that a gym teacher there not only gets blood pumping but also gets minds whirring: s/he has the students write. In gym class.
If that had been part of my high school gym class, maybe I would not have been so anxious to be there.
Now word is really spreading:Another tweeter responded that he'd rather be Fingered than Kaned. Ain't that the truth (not something Kane was known for...).
On 3/31/13, I had the honor of speaking about the mystery behind the majority creator of Batman at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.
They hosted the traveling Jews/superheroes exhibit, which includes a Bill Finger script that Jerry Robinson donated. The bio gets a few things wrong (starting with the city in which Bill was born), but the exhibit is fun.
Kids are sometimes quick to point out that Batman doesn’t fly. We know he took the train to Washington DC when writing for the Army Pictorial Center circa 1969-70; he was apparently thrilled to get Pentagon clearance. But he never took a plane anywhere.The farthest I’ve tracked him is an unlikely destination for an unlikely reason. At point, probably in the 1950s, Bill went to a seder…in Texas.
Neither did Bill Finger.
He lived in New York most of his life, and as far as we know, usually did not wander too far. We know he vacationed in Provincetown (Cape Cod), MA.
Yes, Bill the non-observant Jew celebrated Passover in the not-particularly-Jewish-y Lone Star State.
And on 4/8/13, I went to Texas for the first time since Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman came out to speak to the sixth graders at Gregory-Portland Intermediate School in the Corpus Christi suburb of Portland. The district’s theme for the year is superheroes. I was honored to be asked to be a part of it. (They did not know the Bill Finger connection before I came.)
It was the first time I’ve presented flanked by two bodyguards.Favorite question of the day: “If you didn’t write this book on Bill Finger, do you think anyone else would have?”
Thank you, GPI, for allowing me to symbolically follow in the footsteps of Bill Finger, and for hosting such a lovely visit.
humor pinned to board in teachers’ lounge
GPI sent me a thick stack of thank-you letters and they contained an unusually large number of irresistible quotables:
- “I can’t believe you went to other states just to get information.”
- “What did you think about us as audience?”
- “I am now part of the Bill [Finger] army! I will go around and spread the word.”
- “I liked how you had clarity, and great eye contact. Just keep on doing that and you won’t have anything to worry about.”
- “Could you consider writing a book about a superhero piglet? Maybe it could be a winning idea for a children’s series.”
- “It was a privilege to see where the first Superman comic was typed.”
- “from the third kid in the first row”
- “You kinda look like my Uncle, but with hair.”
- “I am sure someday you and I will be famous writers.”
- “You inspired me not just to do your best but also be unique in what I love to do.”
- “The part with the paperweight really teared me up. I almost cried!”
- “Maybe I will write a book about you and you can give me the paperweight?”
- “When my dad was little he loved to watch Superman movies or read comics. I told my dad all the information and he was amazed and I thank you for that.”
- “If they could, I bet Jerry, Joe, and Bill would say thank you.”
That last one especially moved me.
On 11/7/12, with fallen snow as fresh as the newly re-elected president, I spoke several times at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts.The stage in the auditorium where I gave my first presentation of the day was set up for a play:At a lovely reception with teachers-in-training, they distributed this bookmark:The poster designed for my final talk of the day is one of the coolest ever done in connection to my work:I enjoyed the first snowfall of the season except for the fact that the only shoes I brought were these:
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In honor of today's opening of Man of Steel, the first live-action Superman movie since Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman came out, I was thrilled to introduce the book to not one, not two, but three people who have portrayed Superman as a child in a feature film.
So just like the post title says, it's Boys of Steel meet Boys of Steel:
Aaron Smolinski, toddler Superman in Superman: The Movie (1978);
Here are all three in a younger day:
Colgan twins (of steel)
The first two photos above were taken on 6/13/13. Thank you again to Aaron and Candice (the twins' mom) for your willingness to take and send these photos.