Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary
By Bill Schelly
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 limited edition hardcover version of this book titled Words of Wonder: The Life and Times of Otto Binder was published by Hamster Press in 2003. While this second edition is largely the same in terms of text and illustrations as the first edition in 2003, it differs in a number of ways: errors in the original text have been corrected; the Endnotes have been expanded; additional material has been added to give more attention to certain aspects of his creative life; new photographs are presented; and, in the Appendix, several pages from Binder’s personal records are displayed. While it may not qualify as an “expanded edition,” the improvements in this new edition give the reader a more complete portrait Otto Binder’s life and work. In short, it’s worth picking up even if you have the original book, especially at the affordable price.
List Price: $19.95
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: North Atlantic Books; Second edition (2016)