Thursday, August 27, 2009

Episode #88: Happy Birthday, Otto Binder!

Note: The basic biographical information was gathered from wikipedia, since I could find no other web sites with biographical information about Otto Binder. The information about his comic book career was gathered from the web sites, and

Otto Binder was born on August 26, 1911 in Bessemer, Michigan. H was the youngest of si children. His family had emigrated from Austria, beginning with his father in 1906. His family would come to America by 1910. They settled in Chicago by 1922. Otto and one of his older brothers, Earl, wrote science fiction stories under the pseudnym of Eando (E and O) Binder. Their first published story was The First Martian, to Amazing Stories in 1930. The brothers did not earn enough money from writing to live on, so they worked many jobs to support themselves. Earl would eventually find work at an ironworks. Otto continued using the Eando pseudonym throughout his career. Otto would also write stories for Mort Weisinger, at the time editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories, as well as Ray Palmer, editor of Amazing Stories. Palmer would become the namesake of the silver age Atom, named by science fiction agent turned DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz.

Otto was best known as a comic book writer. Another older brother Jack, an artist, got him a job writing stories for the Henry A. Chesler comic book packaging shop. Jack would outlive his youngest brother, living until 1988. Otto's first credited published story was In The World Of Time, as Eando Binder, in Top Notch Comics #1, Decembr 1939, for MLJ (later Archie) comics. He would become a key figure in Captain Marvel stories for Fawcett Comics. After writing for a number of Fawcett minor characters, Binder and artists Marc Swayze and C. C. Beck created many members of the Captain Marvel family, including Mary Marvel, Uncle Dudley, Tawky Tawney, Black Adam, Mr. Mind and Dr. Sivana's evil and good children.

Binder wrote for a variety of publishers but would spend most of his career writing for DC Comics, after Fawcett Comics finally quit fighting DC Comics' lawsuit and closed their comic book company. DC would later buy Fawcett's characters, as they did with many defunct publishers. His first DC story was the Green Arrow story The Archer From Sherwood Forest in World's Finest Comics #33, May/June 1948. He would write for a variety of characters and titles for DC before becoming a major contributor to the Superman family during the silver age, under te editorial guidance of his od science fiction editor Mort Weisinger.

He wrote all three stories for the first issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, September/October 1954. He also wrote the last two of the three stories of the first issue of Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane, Marc/April 1958.

Otto Binder also introduced a number of Superman's supprtng cast: Krypto, in Adventure Comics #210 (March 1955), Brainiac: Action Comics #242 (July 1958), Bizarro: first in Superboy #68 (October 1958) and the adult version in Action Comics #254 (July 1959), Elastic Lad Jimmy Olsen in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #31 (September 1958), Titano the Super Ape in Superman #127 (February 1959), Lucy Lane (Lois' sister) in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #36 (April 1959), Supergirl in Action Comics #252 (May 1959) and Beppo, the Super Monkey in Superboy #76 (October 1959).

Binder's longest lasting contribution was probably the Legion of Super-Heroes, who premiered in the twelve page story The Legion Of Super-Heroes in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958). The story was popular with readers, who inspired DC Comics to return to the Legion in Adventure Comics #267 (December 1959). They would return in a smattering of stories of various titles before appearing monthly beginning with Adventure Comics #300 (September 1962). They have been in almost continuous publication in various titles since. They have returned to publication with the new Adventure Comics #1 (504), October 2009. Many writers and artists have expanded the Legion in both membership and scope, but they built on the foundation laid by Otto Binder and the artists who drew his stories, including my favoirte Legion, and Superman, artist, Curt Swan.

Otto Binder died on October 13, 1974 at Chersterton, New York at the age of 63, leaving behind a very crowded Superman Family.

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Thanks for listening to this episode of the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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