Monday, April 27, 2009

Capes & Legends

Over the course of 204 spectacular posts, Comics Should Be Good! blogger Brian Cronin has been exploring the myths and rumors that attach themselves to comic book history in a feature called "Comic Book Legends Revealed," reminding us that truth is often stranger than fiction. Whether it's the self-inflating fabulisms of Batman creator Bob Kane, the eerie prophecies of writer-artist John Byrne, or last week's tale of a double-sized superhero comic re-drawn in the shadow of a hurricane, Cronin does a yeoman's job of interviewing participants, hitting the archives, and trying to confirm or correct the records that conventional wisdom creates. His posts-- usually starting from a question written in by one of the readers-- span everything from superhero comics to children's book illustration to newspaper funnies to odd commercialized offshoots, all written about with wit, depth and grace.

This week, a collection of Cronin's "Legends" columns-- plus a lot of brand-new material-- is being published as a book, Was Superman A Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed! That wonderfully pulpy title should give you a sense of the playfulness of Cronin's work, and how well he manages to walk that line between critical distance and colorful investment. Cronin is not going to let fandom get in the way of the facts as he can find them, but every post is written out of a sense of love for the medium and respect for his readers-- he's genuinely geeked by this stuff, and I suspect it's that endless enthusiasm that gets so many famous people to open up about so many odd and obscure stories. If you have any interest in the stories behind the comic book stories, you owe it to yourself to check out Cronin's work: his anecdotes pop like a four-colored adventure on a rainy day.

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