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Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary

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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), Bind 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.


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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), Bind 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.

30 review for Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary

  1. 4 out of 5

    Derek Royal

    An insightful biography of the life of Otto Binder, a writer that, before this book, I was only familiar with from a distance. Schelly does an outstanding job of taking the details and facets of a life and representing it as readable narrative. You get that from this book, as well as his other biographies and histories. We talked with Schelly on the podcast about this book: http://comicsalternative.com/comics-a.... An insightful biography of the life of Otto Binder, a writer that, before this book, I was only familiar with from a distance. Schelly does an outstanding job of taking the details and facets of a life and representing it as readable narrative. You get that from this book, as well as his other biographies and histories. We talked with Schelly on the podcast about this book: http://comicsalternative.com/comics-a....

  2. 4 out of 5

    Comics Alternative

    http://comicsalternative.com/comics-a... http://comicsalternative.com/comics-a...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. A very well-written and informative biography about Otto Binder, a comic book author who wrote for Marvel. Though I didn't know a lot about him before, I am certainly a fan now after reading this! I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. A very well-written and informative biography about Otto Binder, a comic book author who wrote for Marvel. Though I didn't know a lot about him before, I am certainly a fan now after reading this!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tom Johnson

    “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, “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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Arredondo

    Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary by Bill Schelly is an interesting and informative read about the life and works of Otto Binder, American Author of Science Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Comic books. A beautiful vibrant cover...a rich in detailed well written read...a pretty good book all around. I love comic books however, I am not a comic book fanatic. I am not heavy in the comic con world so I can't say I know everything about comics. I think after readi Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary by Bill Schelly is an interesting and informative read about the life and works of Otto Binder, American Author of Science Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Comic books. A beautiful vibrant cover...a rich in detailed well written read...a pretty good book all around. I love comic books however, I am not a comic book fanatic. I am not heavy in the comic con world so I can't say I know everything about comics. I think after reading this book I might like the behind-the-scenes world of the people that create them. Insightful..informative...and creatively done, Bill Schelly has put together a wonderful book filled with comic strips, pictures, articles, and friends and family interviews. A great read...a beautiful book if you are judging from cover alone...content, interesting. Thanks as always to the wonderful peeps at goodreads for my free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to which I gladly and voluntarily gave.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bart Hill

    This is a detailed examination on the works and life of Otto"Eando" Binder. OB was a prolific comic book writer who scripted over 2,400 comic book stories-- creating Capt. Marvel and having written for nearly every publisher in the 1950s and 1960s. His Adam Link stories (written in the age of the pulps) even appeared in Warren's comics of the 1970s. For all of his success as a comic book writer Binder rarely made much money due to the fact that publishers seldom paid royalties. Later in life Bind This is a detailed examination on the works and life of Otto"Eando" Binder. OB was a prolific comic book writer who scripted over 2,400 comic book stories-- creating Capt. Marvel and having written for nearly every publisher in the 1950s and 1960s. His Adam Link stories (written in the age of the pulps) even appeared in Warren's comics of the 1970s. For all of his success as a comic book writer Binder rarely made much money due to the fact that publishers seldom paid royalties. Later in life Binder wrote extensively on alien life and on the possibility of UFOs. This book is NOT a quick read. In fact, I could only read a couple of chapters per week. However, if anyone is interested in the comic book industry of the 1950s and 1960s and the subsequent rise of fan conventions and scholarly articles, then this book is well worth reading, even if one isn't particularly interested in the book as a biography. Those whom have read EC, to Silver Age Marvel and DC will recognize many names, and stories, mentioned throughout this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    My interest in Otto Binder actually began with being charmed by the pseudonym he and his brother used (Eando Binder) and some of his early stories, particularly the Adam Link series, that I read while working my way through the Kalamazoo Public Library's science fiction section as a child. It wasn't until years later that I found out the origin of the pseudonym (Ernest and Otto-> E and O->Eando) and why the author seemed to drop off the science fiction landscape more or less completely. Guess th My interest in Otto Binder actually began with being charmed by the pseudonym he and his brother used (Eando Binder) and some of his early stories, particularly the Adam Link series, that I read while working my way through the Kalamazoo Public Library's science fiction section as a child. It wasn't until years later that I found out the origin of the pseudonym (Ernest and Otto-> E and O->Eando) and why the author seemed to drop off the science fiction landscape more or less completely. Guess that's the price I paid for never having developed a taste for comic books, really only enjoying prose works. Despite that lack of interest and exposure to the field that Binder made the majority of his career and is probably best known for, I found Schelly's biography an enjoyable and informative read. I would recommend it to any one with an interest in the early days of pulp science fiction and most especially the golden age of comics.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Buhs

    A fine, if narrowly-focused, biography of a writer. This is the story of Otto Binder, who was an early writer of science fiction and comics, before drifting first into flying saucer conspiracy theories and then into alcoholism. If you know anything about early science fiction or comics, you are unlikely to learn anything knew here; that's not a bad thing, necessarily. Schelly wanted to write a biography of Binder, and that is what he did, the focus always on the man. The context is there, but he d A fine, if narrowly-focused, biography of a writer. This is the story of Otto Binder, who was an early writer of science fiction and comics, before drifting first into flying saucer conspiracy theories and then into alcoholism. If you know anything about early science fiction or comics, you are unlikely to learn anything knew here; that's not a bad thing, necessarily. Schelly wanted to write a biography of Binder, and that is what he did, the focus always on the man. The context is there, but he does not seek to enrichen it or overturn conventional wisdom. Read if you are interested in Binder, or the personalities behind the comics he wrote, especially the Captain Marvel series, which is a big focus of the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    I loved reading this book, only saddened to realize the sorrows of family life that came to this prolific author. The description of early pulps and comics is strong. Illustrations are great. The portrayal of Otto Binder as perhaps the most prolific of comics writers is done with nuance and detail. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mr Richard E Meehan

    An interseting insight into one of the busiest and creative minds in the silver age of American comic books.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Roland

    A very good biography that also includes some great information about the golden age of comics.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.5 of 5 Otto Binder was science fiction, science, U.F.O., and comic book author who wrote in the early days (Golden Era) of comic books (specifically the 1940's) and the New Wave of science fiction (the 1960's-1970's). He is credited with truly defining Captain Marvel (Shazam) and wrote nearly 1,000 (of the 1,700) stories in the Marvel Family (ie: Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr). In science fiction, his short story This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.5 of 5 Otto Binder was science fiction, science, U.F.O., and comic book author who wrote in the early days (Golden Era) of comic books (specifically the 1940's) and the New Wave of science fiction (the 1960's-1970's). He is credited with truly defining Captain Marvel (Shazam) and wrote nearly 1,000 (of the 1,700) stories in the Marvel Family (ie: Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr). In science fiction, his short story "I, Robot" (about a robot named Adam Link) was impactful in the late 1930's-early 40's and led to a series of Adam Link stories and books. Isaac Asimov, who wrote the more famous I, Robot book acknowledged Binder's earlier creation and its influence on the genre. In his later life, Binder rivalled Erich von Däniken for his books on UFO's and extraterrestrial life. Binder often wrote using the name Eando Binder which began when he first wrote with his brother Earl (E and O Binder). Much of today's comics work still has its roots in Binder's early writings and his science fiction is right on par with some of the other early greats. And yet Binder is comparatively unknown. Only those truly interested in the culture are aware of his work. Some of this comes from the era in which he worked where he was nothing more than a hired hand. Authors weren't even given credit for their work in the comics at this time and some of his work is only guessed at and pieced together from other sources. And as comics were the main source of income for Binder in the early days, anonymity was par for the course. This book is a very thorough, one might even say 'loving,' tribute to this comics and sci-fi workhorse. In addition to the detailed look at his work during these early days, author Bill Schelly also shares information on Binder's personal life, including the very tragic death of the Binders' only daughter when just a young school girl. I first became aware of Binder in the 1970's when I purchased a novel of the comic book Avengers (which I have learned was not looked upon favorably either by Marvel comics or comics fans). From that, I had learned that Binder was a comic book author, but I didn't give him much thought until I saw this book and wanted to learn more. Schelly's research is strong and his writing is really clear, making this very easy to read. Looking for a good book? Anyone interested in comics, comic book history, or the early days of science fiction should really do themselves a favor and read Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary by Bill Schelly. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Billy Hogan

    An excellent look at the life of one of the great science fiction, science and comic book writers in the early part of the 20th Century. It was interesting to learn about his contributions to the Original Captain Marvel, as well as Superman, and what it was like to have to deal with infamous Superman editor Mort Weisinger. His life was not unmarked by tragedy, but it was amazing to see how he was able to endure, although not without emotional scars. I would recommend this book to anyone interest An excellent look at the life of one of the great science fiction, science and comic book writers in the early part of the 20th Century. It was interesting to learn about his contributions to the Original Captain Marvel, as well as Superman, and what it was like to have to deal with infamous Superman editor Mort Weisinger. His life was not unmarked by tragedy, but it was amazing to see how he was able to endure, although not without emotional scars. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the history of science fiction and comic books.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dave Terruso

    This was a very in-depth look at various eras in the life of Otto Binder. I loved all the letters and pictures. You finish the book feeling like you spent time hanging out with its subject, which is the highest praise you can give a biography. It's also a fascinating look at the comic book and sci-fi pulp industry over several decades. This was a very in-depth look at various eras in the life of Otto Binder. I loved all the letters and pictures. You finish the book feeling like you spent time hanging out with its subject, which is the highest praise you can give a biography. It's also a fascinating look at the comic book and sci-fi pulp industry over several decades.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Adriano Barone

    Well researched and heartbreaking. The life of many authors of the Golden Age of comics ended in personal and financial misery, and I find it always gut-wrenching, especially because of the personal tragedy that occurred in Binder's late years. Maybe this 2020 is not the best moment to read about a life that ended in such a painful way, but a great book nonetheless. Well researched and heartbreaking. The life of many authors of the Golden Age of comics ended in personal and financial misery, and I find it always gut-wrenching, especially because of the personal tragedy that occurred in Binder's late years. Maybe this 2020 is not the best moment to read about a life that ended in such a painful way, but a great book nonetheless.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David Macpherson

    A really well written biography of a comic book and science fiction writer. He wrote Captain America in the forties. He also wrote Superman and his pals. The story did a great job showing what it took to be a comic book writer. He then began writing UFO books in his later days and that was interesting, but the ending was a bummer with death and alcoholism. Not a fun way to end a good book, but it was what happened.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Wetherington

    Finished this last night so I could put it in the box of things going to the cabin before I leave Rapid City. It was insightful getting to read about the life of a writer who penned so many of the comic book stories I enjoyed growing up. And finding out about some other novels he wrote that I can go searching for to read in the future.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lou

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer DeRoss

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chad Brock

  21. 5 out of 5

    James Bowman

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brendan McEachern

  24. 4 out of 5

    Fletch

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mike g

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  27. 5 out of 5

    thom hamilton

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nick Zinn

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ronald J Bauer

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