A REVIEW OF ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comics Books, 1938-1950
BY WALLY LOEPP
There I was, caught in a memory, back in the late 1960s, standing in the center isle of my local drugstore and gazing with desire at the model kit on the shelf. It was an awesome model: Superman busting through a brick wall. There was a Batman model kit next to it, and it was cool, also; but it was that Superman model I wanted. To make a short story even shorter, I never did get that Superman model kit.
The years slide quickly by, and I am, again, back in 2009, January 1. There in front me is not only a model of Superman busting through a brick wall, but a LIFE-SIZE model, complete with real bricks littering the floor! I had just plopped down 12 dollars for admission to a special museum exhibition, Zap! Pow! Bam! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comics Books, 1938-1950
at Cleveland's Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.
And it was starting out just fine!
Superman busting through bricks was only the first feature past the door. That was followed by an old-fashioned, wooden-sided phone booth. Soon, the phone rings. Upon picking up the receiver, a recorded voice urgently requests Supermanís presence at an on-going crime scene! Next, a mock-up of an old-style newsstand, with a shelf full of comic books; recent issues, in this case. (Being a museum, all these exhibits have explanatory placards, with most exhibits credited as on loan from the Jerry Robinson
Moving along, one encounters the first of two small continuous screening areas, the first showing a Superman
serial, the second Captain America
Then the original comic art starts to appear on the walls. Simon and Kirby Captain America
pages, a Speed Comics
cover, and probably another dozen Kirby pieces altogether. Artwork by Robinson, Bob Kane, Mort Meskin, Will Eisner, Joe Shuster, Lou Fine
, and too many others to mention. The two stand-out pieces, for me, were the Lou Fine Hercules
cover art, and the Shuster interior house ad page. Just fantastic.
There was also an original, 90 minute film with interviews from Stan Lee, Jerry Robinson, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon
, and Will Eisner. Jerry Seigel's
typewriter and Shuster's drawing board were among the other artifacts. Also, of course, were many classic Golden Age comics.
This is a traveling exhibit and, if your lucky, you may get a chance to see it in your area. Don't miss it, it's awesome!
Wally Loepp is a lifelong comic book fan. You can learn more about him at his official website here:http://members.tripod.com/comicism4/index.html