Thursday, January 22, 2009

Episode #52: "Curt Swan: A Life In Comics" by Eddy Zeno

I received this book from on December 12, 2002. I don't remember the date, I wrote the date on the inside front cover under my book stamp, along with my name. I had ordered a movie for my son, I don't remember which one, for Christmas, and decided to order this Curt Swan biography to qualify for free shipping. I had known about the book for some time and thought the time was right to finally get it. I was not disappointed. In fact, it started a yearly tradition for me. Every December since then I've re-read my nonfiction books on comic book history or biography, starting with this Curt Swan biography.
The forward was written by Curt's best friend Mort Walker, the creator of Beetle Bailey. The book is divided into three sections. A Career In Comics is a general history of Curt's career, exploring the development of his talent, the twists and turns of his career, and the inkers he was paired with. The Curt Swan Gallery, the only color section of the book, is an overview of some of the famous characters Curt Swan drew in his career and an exploration of the way he was able to convey the subtle variety of human emotions on the faces of the characters he drew. The largest part of the book is the section titled Family, Friends, Admirers And Curt Himself, is a series of interviews with many people who worked with Curt, or his immediate family.
The interviews with Curt's ex-wife and his three children gave a very personal look into his life, from his long career with DC to the struggles of retirement and old age.
A Life In Comics paints a portrait of a gentle man, except when he stood up to the petty cruelties of his editor Mort Weisinger, who was respected by colleagues and loved by all. It dows not gloss over his vices, which we all have, like his smoking habit and fondness for martinees, and some of the conflicts of relating to an aging parent. Reflecting back on his life, the book shows a man who will be missed by all, but who has left a rich legacy of comic book art for all of us to enjoy.

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