All-out victory for fans, though even pop-culture newbs will enjoy the ride.


How to Be a Superhero

This superpowered collection of more than 40 original, in-depth interviews explores the role of superheroes in pop culture—as told by the actors who played them.

In his impressive debut, Edlitz interviews actors who have played parts in shaping modern America’s quintessential mythology: the superhero universe. He delves into everything from the Adventures of Superman and Batman TV series of the 1950s and 1960s to the blockbuster movies of today. But this isn’t limited to heroes: interview subjects include noteworthy villains (such as Tom Hiddleston’s Loki), sidekicks (Jack Larson’s Jimmy Olsen), nonsuperheroes (Leonard Nimoy’s Spock), and writers and directors, including comic-book legend Stan Lee and Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man. He also interviews actors who appeared in less successful films, such as a never-released version of The Fantastic Four. Edlitz is clearly a superfan of superhero comics and films, and his lengthy introductions to each interview are packed with enough background info and trivia to please even hard-core fans. Interviews focus on how actors embodied these larger-than-life superheroes—the iconic costumes helped, as did the all-important secret identities—to become, in many cases, permanently identified with the roles. Lou Ferrigno, aka the Incredible Hulk, says, “I was that character all my life,” an idea echoed throughout the book. Edlitz’s insightful questions also explore weightier topics such as religion, mythology, race, and the nature of heroism, and in a battle against repetition, he often tailors questions to his subject. For instance, when talking with superheroines—such as Batgirl (Yvonne Craig) and Supergirl (Helen Slater)—he touches on issues of female role models and sexualized costumes. Edlitz frequently injects humor into his interviews, livening them up and always ending the conversation with a classic question: who’d win in a fight? “Your Batman or George Clooney’s?” he asks Adam West. “I think it depends on the circumstances,” West says. “It probably depends on the kind of battle. If it were to be a battle of charm, of course, Clooney would win.”

All-out victory for fans, though even pop-culture newbs will enjoy the ride.

Pub Date: June 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1593937911

Page Count: 586

Publisher: BearManor Media

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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