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Leaping Tall Buildings: Portraits of Masters of American Comics

You may think you know the men and women behind your favorite superheroes, but of course, there’s yet another man behind Clark Kent — his creator. PowerHouse Books’s beautiful new book Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics celebrates one of the essential American art forms with interviews with and portraits of some of the all-time greats of American comics, from Stan Lee to Art Spiegelman, mixing in some newer — but no less phenomenal — faces as well. Click through to see a few elegant, revealing, and whimsical portraits of some of the true giants of American comics that we excerpted from the book, as well as a few choice quotes from their interviews, and if you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to check out the book’s launch event on April 14 at The powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn.

Joe Simon

“Not all of these guys knew how to do comics,” Joe says of the early days of comics. “Bill Eisner was twenty years old. Jack Kirby was 23. At least I had had some years on three different newspapers, and I knew that if you put a pencil down, I knew how it would reproduce. These guys didn’t know.”

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were an unlikely pair: Joe was tall and lanky, while Jack was short and barrelchested; Joe a talker, while Jack was quiet. Their personalities complimented one another, a balancing act of Simon’s business savvy with Kirby’s intensity. Together, they created the language that defined the comic book.

From Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics, photographs by Seth Kushner, text and interviews by Christopher Irving, published by powerHouse Books.

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