Friday, April 28, 2006


The Man from Krypton

The other day I received my contributor copies of BenBella Books' new "Smart Pop" essay anthology, The Man from Krypton, edited by Glenn Yeffeth. For handy reference, the list of contributors includes Lou Anders, Bob Batchelor, Adam-Troy Castro, Keith R.A. Candido, Larry Dixon, Steven Harper, John G. Hemry, David Hopkins, Paul Levinson, Peter B. Lloyd, Paul Lytle, Joseph McCabe, Larry Niven, Gustav Peebles, Evelyn Vaughn, Lawrence Watt-Evans, and Sarah Zettel. Oh, and me, of course.

My own contribution is titled "Jewel Mountains and Fire Falls: The Lost World of Krypton," and is a paean to the Krypton of the Silver Age and Bronze Age comics. In particular, I praise E. Nelson Bridwell, who picked up the torch after uber-editor Mort Weisinger resigned, and under whose guiding hand Krypton really came into full flower in the 1970s. Naturally, I heap praise on Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbons's "For the Man Who Has Everything," which I think owes its narrative weight to the constant evocation of the minutia of Krypton’s invented history and culture. And, finally, I blame John Byrne for lousing up the whole thing, by choosing to make Krypton a place which would repel and revulse Superman, rather than a lost home for which he'd wax nostalgaic.

Basically, these sorts of projects are opportunities to read huge stacks of favorite old comics as "research," and to get paid for typing up the same sorts of rants with which I bore the clerks at the comic shop on a weekly basis. What could be better than that? This weekend I'm working on my contribution for BenBella's forthcoming book on Battlestar Galactica (having finished the introduction to PJF and Danny Adam's "The City Beyond Play" yesterday). I'm dirt poor, but I've got the best job in the world.

Hey, Chris:

I really liked your essay in THE MAN FROM KRYPTON. My own knowledge of Superman is limited more to the stuff in the last twenty years, and so I found your explanation very helpful in my own vision of Krypton.

Ditto on what you said about "research." My own (you'll remember me from page 137) was about a week or just reading Superman and JLA. Can't believe they are willing to send me a check for this! I'm working on an essay for their Spider-Man volume now. Good luck on Battlestar Galactica!
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