Wednesday, January 21, 2009

SF authors born 1904-13: 1911

1. Otto Binder


Otto Oscar Binder (1911-1974)

Otto Binder was born on August 26, 1911 in Bessemer, Michigan, the youngest of six children born into a family who had emigrated from Austria a year earlier. The family settled in Chicago in 1922, during a period rich with science fiction, which enthralled Otto and his brother Earl. The two began writing in partnership, and sold their first story, "The First Martian" to Amazing Stories in 1930; it saw publication in 1932 under the pen-name "Eando Binder" ("E" and "O" Binder).

Not earning enough to live on, Binder and his brother "worked at many jobs" in addition to their writing work, Earl ultimately finding work at an iron works, after which Otto took over "most of the writing," although keeping the nom de plume for his science fiction writings throughout his life. In 1935, Binder was hired by author Otis Adelbert Kline "as an agent in charge of his New York literary office," although business was bad enough that "they called it quits two years later." At the same time, however, Binder was writing for Mort Weisinger (then editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Ray Palmer (editor of Amazing), for whom he created the Adam Link series, and particularly the short story "I, Robot" which inspired Isaac Asimov's positronic robot Robbie.

Binder is best known for his comic book work, an area he entered in 1939 thanks to another brother, Jack, who moved to New York to "join the Harry "A" Chesler shop as an artist." Shortly thereafter, (in 1940) Fawcett Comics began its comics line, and Binder started writing features including Captain Venture, Golden Arrow, Bulletman and El Carim. Binder is best known for his 12-year stint on Fawcett Comics's Captain Marvel (1941 to 1953), writing "986 stories... out of 1,743 - over half the entire Marvel Family saga." During this time, he co-created, with Marc Swayze and C. C. Beck, such characters as Mary Marvel, Uncle Dudley, Mr. Tawky Tawny, Black Adam, and Mr. Mind, as well as Dr. Sivana's four children: the evil teens Thaddeus Sivana Jr. and daughter Georgia, as well as the disappointingly good and kind Beautia and Magnificus.

Binder also wrote and created characters for other publishers, including Timely Comics (the fledgling Marvel Comics), for whom "he [co-]created Captain Wonder, The Young Allies, Tommy Tyme and Miss America," (a female version of Captain America) and also wrote for Captain America, the Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, Destroyer, Whizzer, All-Winners Squad and others. For Quality Comics, Binder co-created Kid Eternity, and wrote for Blackhawk, Doll Man, Uncle Sam and the Black Condor, and for MLJ Comics (subsequently known as Archie Comics), he wrote for Steel Sterling, The Shield, The Hangman and The Black Hood. Binder also produced work for Gold Key.

In 1948, Binder began working for National Periodical Publications (DC Comics), swiftly creating "Merry, Girl of 1,000 Gimmicks in the Star-Spangled Kid strip", whose place Merry soon took in Star-Spangled Comics, before moving on to his best-known DC work on the Superman titles. In addition to writing the first Legion of Super-Heroes story, Binder "introduced Jimmy Olsen's signal-watch in the pages of the first issue of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. In issue 31 Binder also introduced Jimmy's Elastic Lad identity. He also wrote the first tales featuring the supporting Superman characters Lucy Lane, Beppo, the Super Monkey, Titano, the Super Ape and "most important of all - Supergirl" with artist Al Plastino.[2] He also created Brainiac, the Phantom Zone -- highlighted regularly on the Smallville television show -- and Krypto the Superdog, recently featured in an animated series of the same name.

Bridwell credits Binder as creating the first "Imaginary Tale, for Lois Lane," and of writing "most of the early" Bizarro stories including (at least) the first Tales of the Bizarro World feature. Binder also scripted the "classic [storyline] "Superman's Return to Krypton."

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