Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Unhappy endings

The story proper (i.e. the illustrated portion) of Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman spans the years 1930 to 1940—thus ending before the decades of friction between the Boys of Steel and DC Comics. I address that in the three-page, text-only afterword.

Until now, any review that mentioned my decision to structure the book this way did so positively. Among the comments:

“…to Nobleman’s credit there’s an afterword that details their struggle to be recognized as Superman’s creators” – Firefox News

“…Nobleman tells his story swiftly, focusing on key dramatic moments, with a detailed afterword showing his intensive research” – Interesting Nonfiction for Kids

“In the afterword—three solid, totally engaging pages of text—Nobleman acknowledges the legal and financial woes that befell Siegel and Shuster” – Fairfield County Weekly

“The narrative ends on an upbeat note, but the detailed, candid afterword clues youngsters into the creators’ bitter compensation battle with DC Comics.” – Booklist

“A fascinating author’s note follows the story of Jerry and Joe until their deaths and explores the business side of the comic industry.” – Horn Book

“Those last three pages are a killer. Comic book aficionados are all too familiar with the second half of Siegel and Shuster’s tale, which Nobleman concisely relates in the afterword. … Nobleman cannot relate all the details, nor should he in what is very definitely a kids’ book” – PLAYBACK:stl

“Pay particular attention to the insightful afterword” – Cool Cleveland

Yesterday, I discovered a review that was critical of this approach:

“I had a little trouble with this book, namely because it avoids talking about the creators’ horrible treatment by DC in favor of a ‘Your dreams can come true’ ending, with only a lengthy afterword divulging the sad truth. Considering how poorly these guys were ultimately treated, that strikes me as a little dishonest.”

Dishonest? It’s there, isn’t it? Just not illustrated all pretty-like. But I do see his point. And for the record, I do believe children’s stories don’t always need a happy ending. In fact, my Bill Finger book won’t—can’t—have one, at least not as things currently stand.

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