Book Reviews - Reference Books
Flights of Fantasy: The Unauthorized but True Story of Radio & TV's Adventures of SupermanAuthor: Michael J. Hayde
Published by: BearManor Media (May 14, 2009)
Reviewed by: Steve Younis
When anyone asks me who my favorite Superman actor is, my answer is generally Clayton "Bud" Collyer. This surprises most people as it's not what they expected. However the Superman Fleischer cartoons and radio series are two of my favorite versions of the Man of Steel, and Bud Collyer voices the character in both.
Because of my love of the Superman from this early era, I was looking forward to reading "Flights of Fantasy" by Michael J. Hayde. Having now done so, I can say that it is one of the best Superman reference books I've read... period. It is both excellently written and meticulously researched. It unveiled so many aspects of Superman's radio and early TV days that I had no idea about.
Books hold a special place in my heart. I have set aside a room in my house (known as "The Library") with wall to wall bookshelves filled with the books I've read (and plan to read). I hate seeing people dog-ear the corner of pages to mark their place rather than use a bookmark. In short I hate seeing books defaced. However for the first time in my life I found myself with a marker pen in hand, highlighting paragraphs in this book for future reference. Gems of knowledge that I felt were important to look back on later and hopefully incorporate into this website's pages on both the radio series and 1950s TV series.
The 1940s Superman radio series is in many ways shrouded in mystery. Many of the episodes have been lost to history and therefore cataloging the series is difficult and open to speculation. Michael J. Hayde has managed not only to unearth many details previously unknown, but has brought a clarity to this era that will undoubtably be referenced by historians for years to come.
Hayde breaks down the Superman radio series into 5 eras that not only makes complete sense, but seems so natural that I wondered why nobody had set things out this way before.
There's so much intriguing behind-the-scenes information on the production, financing, sponsorship, casting and writing of the radio series. The pages are dotted with photos and images of newspaper clippings from the time.
The chapters on the "Adventures of Superman" TV series are just as well written and researched. The insights into how the series was brought to television, the behind-the-scenes jostling for position and self-promotion. The obstacles of filming on a tight budget and the trials and tribulations of George Reeves' life off-screen as the star of the show make for riveting reading.
"Flights of Fantasy" is almost three books in one. The first third is dedicated to the Superman radio series. The second is all about the "Adventures of Superman" TV series starring George Reeves, and the final third is an index of episode listings including synopsis, script comparisons, trivia and bloopers. There are even two complete scripts from the TV series that were never filmed.
Without a doubt one of the finest Superman books I've read, "Flights of Fantasy" is a book I'll be returning to time and time again for information and research. But it's also an entertaining read. I'd happily give it a 10 out of 10 rating.
Book ReviewsComic Book Novelizations:
- The Gospel According to the World's Greatest Superhero
- The Man From Krypton
- The Original Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes - Volume 3: Superman
- Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway
- Beyond Lois Lane
- The DC Comics Action Figure Archive
- Superman vs. Hollywood
- Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman
- Flights of Fantasy: The Unauthorized but True Story of Radio & TV's Adventures of Superman by Michael J. Hayde
- Our Hero: Superman on Earth by Tom De Haven
- Superman On Earth: Reflections of a Fan by Gary D. Robinson
- DC Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book by Matthew Reinhart
- The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman by Vic Armstrong
- The Ages of Superman: Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times
- Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye
- Superman is an Arab by Joumana Haddad
- Superman is Jewish? by Harry Brod
- 100 Things Superman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Joseph McCabe
- Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon by Ian Gordon
- DC: Women of Action by Shea Fontana
- Superman: Last Son of Krypton
- Superman: Miracle Monday
- The Further Adventures of Superman
- It's Superman! by Tom De Haven
- DC Universe: Last Sons
- DC Universe: Trail of Time
- Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson
- Enemies & Allies by Kevin J. Anderson
- DC Super-Pets! by Picture Window Books
- Dear Justice League by Michael Northrop
- Fallout (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond
- Double Down (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond
- Triple Threat (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond
- Superman: Dawnbreaker by Matt De La Pena
- Super Sons: Escape to Landis by author Ridley Pearson and illustrator Ileana Gonzales
- Smallville: Strange Visitors
- Smallville: Dragon
- Smallville: Hauntings
- Smallville: Whodunnit
- Smallville: Shadows
- Smallville: Silence
- Smallville: Curse
- Smallville: City
- Smallville: Arrival
- Smallville: See No Evil
- Smallville: Flight
- Smallville: Animal Rage
- Smallville: Speed
- Smallville: Buried Secrets
- Smallville: Greed
- Smallville: Temptation
- Smallville: Sparks
- JLA: Batman - The Stone King
- JLA: Wonder Woman - Mythos
- JLA: The Flash - Stop Motion
- JLA: JLA - Exterminators
- JLA: Green Lantern - Hero's Quest
- JLA: Superman - The Never-Ending Battle
- Superman Returns: Strange Visitor
- Superman Returns: Novelization
- Superman Returns: Coming Home
- Superman Returns: Earthquake in Metropolis!
- Superman Returns: I am Superman!
- Superman Returns: Be A Hero!
- Superman Returns: Thank You, Superman!
- Superman Returns: The Movie Storybook
- Superman Returns: The Visual Guide
- Superman Returns: The Official Movie Guide