Daniels, Les 1943-
Daniels, Les 1943-
(Leslie Noel Daniels, III)
Born October 27, 1943, in Danbury, CT; son of Leslie Noel, Jr. (a copywriter) and Eva Daniels.
Education: Brown University, B.A., 1965, M.A., 1968.
Home—Box 814, Providence, RI 02901.
Agent—Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House, 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010.
Musician, composer, and writer. Formerly associated with the musical group "Soop."
Eisner Award, 2000, for Wonder Woman: The Complete History; received four nominations for World Fantasy Award.
Comix: A History of Comic Books in America, Outer-bridge & Dienstfrey (New York, NY), 1971.
Living in Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media, Scribner (New York, NY), 1975, published in England as Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media, Paladin (London, England), 1977.
(Editor) Dying of Fright: Masterpieces of the Macabre, Scribner (New York, NY), 1976.
(Editor, with Diane Thompson) Thirteen Tales of Terror (textbook), Scribner (New York, NY), 1977.
The Black Castle: A Novel of the Macabre, Scribner (New York, NY), 1978.
The Silver Skull: A Novel of Sorcery, Scribner (New York, NY), 1979.78
Citizen Vampire (novel), Scribner (New York, NY), 1981.
Yellow Fog, Donald Grant (West Kingston, RI), 1986, expanded edition, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1988.
(Contributor) Dennis Etchison, editor, Cutting Edge, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1986.
No Blood Spilled (novel), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics, introduction by Stan Lee, Abrams (New York, NY), 1991.
The Don Sebastian Vampire Chronicles, Raven (London, England), 1994.
DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes, Bullfinch Press (New York, NY), 1995, updated edition published as DC Comics: A Celebration of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes, introduction by Jeanette Kahn, Billboard Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Wonder Woman: The Complete History, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2000, published as Wonder Woman: The Golden Age, 2001.
(And selector, with Chip Kidd) The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days, designed by Chip Kidd, photographed by Geoff Spear, Abrams (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to anthologies including Horror: 100 Best Books, edited by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, Xanadu (London, England), 1988; Best New Horror 4, edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 1993; and Borderlands, edited by Thomas F. Monteleone, Maclay & Associates (Baltimore, MD), 1990.
Les Daniels has written histories of horror fiction and comic books as well as horror novels. "The hallmark of [Daniels' novels]," wrote a contributor to the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers, "is the intermingling of genres, notably the supernatural tales, the historical novel, the mainstream novel and the detective story—a fusion Daniels has accomplished with panache." Many of his novels feature the vampire character Sebastian, whose adventures take him through several centuries of history on three continents.
In The Black Castle: A Novel of the Macabre Daniels sets his story in fifteenth-century Spain during the Inquisition, focusing on the vampire Sebastian. But Daniels' story is soon overshadowed by the real terrors of the Inquisition which surround his character. The St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers contributor found that "the lengthy and painfully precise depictions of the Inquisition's dungeons and torture procedures" are for more horrific than anything attempted by Sebastian.
The Silver Skull: A Novel of Sorcery finds Sebastian a century later living in Mexico and involved in the fighting between the Spanish and the Aztecs. As before, the real-life horrors of the historical period make Sebastian's vampiric activities pale in comparison. In Citizen Vampire Sebastian is placed amid the chaos of the French Revolution where, according to the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers contributor, he "takes a decided back seat to such grisly realities as the invention of the guillotine, the storming of the Bastille, and the vicious revenge of the working classes upon the hapless and outraged aristocracy." The critic also noted: "The complex and enigmatic figure of Sebastian is clearly Daniels' greatest accomplishment, although praise must also be extended to the richness of historical setting, the elaborate interweaving of genres, and in general the whole conception of a vampire stalking through history."
The author has also written several literary studies of comic books, including Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. In the book, Daniels traces the comic book company's beginnings in the 1930's as a spin-off from comic strips and its peak of creativity in the 1960s with the creation of such superheroes as the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and Spiderman. As Daniels explains, Marvel was noted for creating superheroes with angst, an idea that largely stemmed from Marvel's founding in the midst of the Great Depression. In a review in People, David Hiltbrand commented that "this is one coffee-table book destined to be carted off to all corners of the house."
In DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes, Daniels looks at Marvel's biggest competitor and a leader of the comic book industry for decades. DC Comics reached success early with the introduction of such superheroes as Superman and Batman. Daniels provides several perspectives on the company's history, from the business end of selling comic books to the artistic efforts that went in to creating perhaps the best known comic superheroes in the world. In each chapter, the author also explores how the comics related to the political and social milieu of the times in chapters such as "The Liberation of Lois Lane: Role Model or Just a Role?" Writing in Print, Erik Migdail commented: "Telling [the characters'] stories as well as the rich history of the company's achievements in one volume is a tall task, but Les Daniels succeeds admirably." Daniels also produced an updated edition of the book titled DC Comics: a Celebration of the World's Favorite Heroes. Library Journal contributor Steve Raiteri called the edition "an extensive and wellresearched history of the company."
In a coffee-table art book titled Superman: The Complete History, Daniels presents both a history of the Superman character and the comic business, as well as a catalog of the various merchandise and media presentations of Superman. Wonder Woman: The Complete History looks at the history of one of the first female superheroes to capture the public's interest. Daniels recounts the unusual origins of Wonder Woman, who was created by Dr. William Moulton Marston, a noted psychologist who invented the lie detector and was an early and strong supporter of women's rights. Chris Ryan, writing in Library Journal, noted that the author recounts the comic book character's history "with a classy and entertaining touch."
Daniels collaborates with designer Chip Kidd for The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days. The production takes on the daybook format and features selected artwork from DC Comics produced from the 1930's through the 1950's, all accompanied by captions and text by Daniels. Steve Raiteri, writing in the Library Journal, noted: "Daniels and Kidd delve deep into DC's history, featuring not only icons … but also unearthing forgotten characters."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Joshi, S.T., The Evolution of the Weird Tale, Hippocampus Press (New York, NY), 2004.
St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Wiater, Stanley, Dark Dreamers: Conversations with the Masters of Horror, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Entertainment Weekly, June 18, 1999, Ken Tucker, review of Superman Masterpiece Edition: the Golden Age of America's First Super Hero, p. 72; November 3, 2000, Jeff Jensen, review of Wonder Woman: The Complete History, p. 76.
Library Journal, February 1, 2001, Chris Ryan, review of Wonder Woman, p. 84; September 1, 2003, Steve Raiteri, review of DC Comics: A Celebration of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes, p. 144; January 1, 2005, Steve Raiteri, review of The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days, p. 89.
New Statesman & Society, December 15, 1995, Kevin Harley, review of DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes, p. 65.
People, January 13, 1992, David Hiltbrand, review of Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics, p. 25.
Print, November-December, 1996, Erik Migdail, review of DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes, p. 28J; March-April, 1999, Arlen Schumer, review of Superman: The Complete History, p. 34; March-April, 2005, Dan Nadel, review of The Golden Age of DC Comics, p. 163.
School Library Journal, December, 2003, Douglas P. Davey, review of DC Comics: A Celebration of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes, p. 88.