Official Press Release
Words of Wonder: The Life and Times of Otto Binder is an all-new, major biography of the legendary writer by Bill Schelly, Eisner-nominated author of Sense of Wonder and The Golden Age of Comic Fandom. The 264-page hardback book from Hamster Press will be solicited in September 2003 for shipping in early November.
Few comic book scripters have contributed more to the medium than Otto Oscar Binder (1911-1974), author of over half of all strips featuring Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family for Fawcett. In the course of writing some 3,000 scripts between 1940 and 1970, he worked for nearly every publishing house, including Timely, EC, Dell, Quality, MLJ, Harvey and Warren. For DC in the 1950’s, Binder co-created Supergirl, Krypto, The Legion of Super-Heroes, Brainiac, Kandor, and wrote the first Bizarro story in comic books. He was chosen by editor Mort Weisinger to launch Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen in their own books.
Before entering the comics arena, Binder had already found fame as the originator of Adam Link (“I, Robot”) in the science fiction pulp magazine Amazing Stories.
“The number of books on comic book writers, not writer-artists, is slim indeed,” Schelly points out. “Yet when you consider the importance of Otto Binder’s career in the field, a biography is long overdue. He didn’t write just Captain Marvel and Superman, as if those credits wouldn’t be enough-he wrote stories for Captain America, Blackhawk, Sub-Mariner, Black Hood, Uncle Sam and literally dozens of other characters. He was one-man script factory!”
Recently, Alan Moore said, “Otto Binder was a kind of titan, a precursor of the gods … because he came up with basic primordial forms that later writers would perhaps polish to a greater luster. But Binder hewed them out of solid rock. He was mining the raw material. Later writers owed him a tremendous debt.”
In the course of researching the book, Schelly gained unprecedented access to surviving Binder family members and Otto’s close friends and colleagues Julius Schwartz, William Woolfolk, Al Feldstein and Roy Thomas. “The more I dug into the story, the more fascinating it became,” Schelly said. “Binder knew great heights of professional success, and devastating personal tragedy. When his 14 year old daughter Mary was killed in a freak car accident in 1967, Otto left the comics field completely, moving to the Adirondacks, and turned his attention to writing science fiction and UFO books.”
Schelly’s book records Otto Binders contacts and encounters with H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Simon & Kirby, Mort Weisinger and (of course) his Captain Marvel collaborator, C. C. Beck.
The introduction of Words of Wonder is by noted SF and mystery author Richard A. Lupoff, whom Otto befriended in 1960, and the cover is a team effort of Jerry Ordway and Bill Schelly. The book contains many photographs and illustrations, many never seen before, as well as a full color gallery of book covers and photos. The retail price is $18.95. All copies are hardback. Look for it in the September Diamond Previews.
More information about Words of Wonder: The Life and Times of Otto Binder will be available at www.billschelly.com
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