Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ross MacDonald
Oh, this is charming. I mean it. It's a kids' biography of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the writer and artist of Superman, and it got me all choked up.
We meet Jerry Siegel as a shy, lonely, grieving boy in Cleveland (Cleveland! Where all true underdogs come from!) who is mad for pulp fiction and movie serials. Short and bespectacled, he meets his match in Jerry Shuster, who spends as much time drawing as Jerry spends writing. They partner up, rejection rejection, and then, in a flash of wishful thinking, Jerry dreams up Superman, a superhuman alien, masquerading among ordinary humans as shy, four-eyed Clark Kent.
Ross MacDonald is the perfect, the ONLY choice to have illustrated this biography. His rounded faces, golden light, and old-fashioned compositional devices cement this book to the era it depicts. I've always liked Ross MacDonald, even after I realized that he was NOT the guy who wrote all those salacious crime novels my dad liked so much in the seventies.
I think my only beef is that when we see Joe Shuster drawing away in his kitchen, I'd have loved to see Joe Shuster's actual early art on the page. I suspect that matters of intellectual property may have intervened.