“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.
A Brief History:
“Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary” is a book that I’ve been drying to read for some time because I love reading about the history of comics and the people who worked on them. And since the last item on my book challenge was to select a book that I was excited to buy or borrow, but hadn’t yet read, this seemed like a perfect time to try out Bill Schelly’s book.
Because I’ve read comics for roughly three decades now, I thought Otto Binder only contribution had been the Captain Marvel books from Fawcett. Boy, was I wrong. Binder had a long career in science fiction long before the comic book world came calling. And Binder had a long career after Fawcett Comics folded creating a ton of stories for DC Comics.
Over the course of his career, the man wrote, edited, and became colleagues with some of sci-fi’s greatest names. He even attended some of the very first fan held sci-fi conventions around the country.
Bill Schelly does an amazing job detailing Binder’s life, his many jobs as a writer, and even some of Otto’s road trips with coworkers. The one that stuck out to me was Binder’s first trip to New York City which nearly ended before it began.
Final word and Score:
“Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary” by Bill Schelly is a page turner from beginning to end. The entire book is filled with so much information, not just about Binder, but about comics and sci-fi writing in general, that you may need to read it multiple times. This is a great book for anyone who loves the history of comics, and all things sci-fi.
And with that, the item is crossed off the 2017 reading challenge: