Thursday, September 25, 2008

Con one, Con all

I will be signing copies of Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman and giving a presentation at the Mid-Ohio Con in Columbus on October 4 and 5. I think this is the largest comic convention in Ohio. Thank you to Gary Dills at Phoenix Comics and Toys for partnering with me on short notice.

In the past ten days or so, I have also been invited to speak at a young authors conference in May 2009, a symposium (my first—what exactly is a symposium?) in don't-know-yet, and a chamber of commerce event in August 2009—all in Ohio. Plus in early November (this year), I'm spending ten days leapfrogging between Cleveland, Wooster, and Findlay (all Ohio).

I'm all for maximizing the Superman/Ohio connection, but at the same time, is anyone looking for a speaker in a state I have not been to?

Monday, September 22, 2008


The Boston Globe reviewed Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman:

"...reveals a whole new side of Superman—one both heroic and surprisingly touching"

"...a well-crafted afterword..."

"The illustrated section of Boys of upbeat, entertaining, and informative...the afterword shows the shadow side of the great American dream. ...Nobleman is equally adept at both stories. Illustrator Ross MacDonald creates a strong visual counterpart... Together they do justice to their subjects' remarkable journey."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The death of Jerry Siegel's father: part 3 of 3

Here is the third of three documents about the death of Michael Siegel that I will post—not technically an obituary but rather an article about the incident. Again, to see the death certificate, keep an eye on Brad Ricca.

Cleveland Press 6/3/32

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Most excellent...boldly told"

The Globe and Mail, the largest-circulation national newspaper in Canada reviewed Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman with kind words.

Unlike the reviews in several American publications, this one did not fault me for failing to mention that Joe Shuster was born in Toronto—the city where the paper is based.


Friday, September 12, 2008

The death of Jerry Siegel's father: part 2 of 3

At least four documents show that Michael Siegel (father of Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman) died not from gunfire as stated in Men of Tomorrow and elsewhere but from a heart attack during a robbery of his clothing store in 1932. Earlier, I posted one of those documents, the coroner's report.

Here is the first page of the second, the police report. I am not posting the second and third pages—to see those (as well as the third document, the death certificate), you will have to wait until my friend Brad Ricca's book comes out. As for why I am doing it this way, see below.

property of the Police Department, City of Cleveland

Page 1 (above) is titled Casualty Report. It specifies "heart failure." Here is my best shot at a transcription of the rest:

"when Michael Siegel became excited when three unknown Negroes entered his store at 3530 Central Ave and one of them walked out with a suit of clothes. through the excitement Michael Siegel fainted and fell down on the floor causing his death"

Page 2 is titled Criminal Complaint. Page 3 is Departmental Information. They both have some great details so check Brad's blog for announcements.

Obtaining this police report was a fortunate fluke. Before Brad and I discussed the police report, he had already tried to get it. The police department told him if he could find it, he could have a copy. (Apparently, and oddly, they could not find it.)

Meanwhile, when I requested the coroner's report, which set me back 20 cents, I was told that the police report was attached to the coroner's report, but the coroner's office was allowed to send me only the coroner's report. I asked Brad if he could ask his police contact to authorize the coroner to send him the police report
—and it worked. Teamwork triumphed, problem solved, report received.

Concluded in part 3.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First grade for "Boys of Steel"

The A.V. Club (the entertainment review publication of the parody newspaper The Onion) called Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman "charming" and gave it an A-minus. My first grade since college.


Monday, September 8, 2008

A contest it's too late to enter

Only this morning I learned that a cartoon caption contest to promote Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman went up on Saturday at mental_floss—but has already ended. Sorry for the no notice!

Thank you to the 130 entrants. Of the ten finalists I am about to choose, readers will vote for their favorites. At least I am not too late to tell you about that. The top three will win a copy of the book.

Also, thank you to the 82 entrants and congratulations to the four winners (announced last week) of the Superman Homepage contest in which readers were asked to explain what Superman means to them in exactly seven words (one for each of his seven decades). I am sure those were a challenge to write and they were really fun to read.

For future reference, though it's not likely this will ever come in handy, two types of entries stood no chance of winning—a straight list of nouns or adjectives (i.e. "strong, brave, moral...," etc.) and any variation on an existing Superman phrase (i.e. "truth, justice, and the American way...") I was looking for originality!

9/12/08 addendum: Here are the ten finalists. The top three will be announced today.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The death of Jerry Siegel's father: part 1 of 3

Brad Meltzer's novel The Book of Lies came out this week. Other Brad Meltzer news also came out—he has started a foundation the first task of which is to raise money to restore Jerry Siegel's former house in Cleveland, which is in a state of alarming disrepair.

I've already covered the 1932 death of Jerry Siegel's father Michael here and here, but since it's a key plot point in The Book of Lies, it is opportune timing to share some of the documentation.

[NOTE: Jerry's father is called Michael Siegel on his death certificate (spelled "Michel"), on his police report, in his obit, and in his wife Sarah's obit. Gerard Jones, author of Men of Tomorrow, wrote me "His name was Michel in the old country, officially Michael in the U.S., and his nickname Mitchell."]

In sum, sources including Men of Tomorrow reported that Michael was shot to death during a robbery of his clothing store. He did die during a robbery, but due to a heart attack.

Here is the coroner's report:

property of the State of Ohio

Here are my transcription notes:

phrase "supposed to have come to his death from violence" in boilerplate
store not named
hazel eyes
gray hair
no beard, mustache
light complexion
65 inches high
150 (maybe 160) pounds

"no wounds" (on body)
"ears & nails cyanotic" (a bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes; a sign that oxygen in the blood is dangerously diminished, as in carbon monoxide poisoning)
"came to his a room? or a store or place of business by the said Michael Siegel - where he collapsed and died ? as the result of natural causes following the theft of a suit of clothes by ? Negro; death due to 1 - acute dilatation of heart, 2 - chronic myocarditis"

Continued in part 2.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Teachers: send me words by 9/30/08

I am doing a second version of my Scholastic book Vocabulary Cartoon of the Day. That was for grades 4-6; the new one will be for grades 2-3. The concept stays the same: 180 cartoons, each including a vocabulary word. To get the gag, kids have to learn the definition.

For the first book, I compiled the word list. This time, I want teachers' helpthey know best.

Teachers (2nd or 3rd grade only): please suggest as many age-appropriate vocabulary words (nouns, verbs, or adjectives) as you would like. Simply e-mail them to mtn at; please do not post them in a comment here on the blog. Include your full name, grade taught, school, and town. I'd be grateful if you'd post this "call for entries" on relevant teacher message boards and forward to other teachers.

I need a final list by September 30. All teachers who contribute words that are used will be acknowledged in the book and notified.