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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Friday, June 17, 2016

Otto Binder

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.

Otto Binder (Biography)
“The Life And Work of A Comic Book And Science Fiction Visionary”
By Bill Schelly
North Atlantic Books
ISBN #978-1623170370
Price $15.58
352 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“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. But tragedy and finances took their toll eventually, leaving him in hard straights. He never forgot his fans, even if he tried to forget the comic book industry. It’s a bittersweet story of triumph and heartbreak, but one I’m glad I finally read.

The book itself is well produced, and the writing is excellent, and the story easily followed. If I had one compliant, it would be the light print of the text. With all ready failing eyesight, the light print was difficult to read for long periods. I can’t say that I am a comic book fan, but I can highly recommend this to those fans, as well as to old folks like me who grew up during the Golden Age.

Tom Johnson


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