Otto Binder was science fiction, science, U.F.O., and comic book author who wrote in the early days (Golden Era) of comic books (specifically the 1940’s) and the New Wave of science fiction (the 1960’s-1970’s). He is credited with truly defining Captain Marvel (Shazam) and wrote nearly 1,000 (of the 1,700) stories in the Marvel Family (ie: Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr).
In science fiction, his short story “I, Robot” (about a robot named Adam Link) was impactful in the late 1930’s-early 40’s and led to a series of Adam Link stories and books. Isaac Asimov, who wrote the more famous I, Robot book acknowledged Binder’s earlier creation and its influence on the genre.
In his later life, Binder rivalled Erich von Däniken for his books on UFO’s and extraterrestrial life.
Binder often wrote using the name Eando Binder which began when he first wrote with his brother Earl (E and O Binder).
Much of today’s comics work still has its roots in Binder’s early writings and his science fiction is right on par with some of the other early greats. And yet Binder is comparatively unknown. Only those truly interested in the culture are aware of his work. Some of this comes from the era in which he worked where he was nothing more than a hired hand. Authors weren’t even given credit for their work in the comics at this time and some of his work is only guessed at and pieced together from other sources. And as comics were the main source of income for Binder in the early days, anonymity was par for the course.
This book is a very thorough, one might even say ‘loving,’ tribute to this comics and sci-fi workhorse. In addition to the detailed look at his work during these early days, author Bill Schelly also shares information on Binder’s personal life, including the very tragic death of the Binders’ only daughter when just a young school girl.
I first became aware of Binder in the 1970’s when I purchased a novel of the comic book Avengers (which I have learned was not looked upon favorably either by Marvel comics or comics fans). From that, I had learned that Binder was a comic book author, but I didn’t give him much thought until I saw this book and wanted to learn more.
Schelly’s research is strong and his writing is really clear, making this very easy to read.
Looking for a good book? Anyone interested in comics, comic book history, or the early days of science fiction should really do themselves a favor and read Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary by Bill Schelly.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary
author: Bill Schelly
publisher: North Atlantic Books
paperback, 264 pages