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Seagle, Steven T.

SEAGLE, Steven T.

PERSONAL: Male. Education: Earned degree in advertising; M.A. (speech communication and rhetoric).

ADDRESSES: Agent—DC Comics, Inc., 1700 Broadway, 7th Fl., New York, NY 10019-5905.

CAREER: Writer of comic books, film, television, online material and video games, c. 1995–. Has also worked as a university and college professor.

WRITINGS:

GRAPHIC NOVELS

Voodoo, Zealot: Skin Trade, illustrated by Michael Lopez, Gary Martin, and others, Image Comics (Anaheim, CA), 1995.

(With Teddy Kristiansen) House of Secrets: Foundation (originally published in comic-book form as House of Secrets, Volumes 1-5), DC Comics (New York, NY), 1997.

Matt Wagner's Grendel Tales: The Devil in Our Midst (originally published in comic-book form as Grendel Tales: The Devil in Our Midst, Volumes 1-5), illustrated by Paul Grist and others, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 1998.

Sleepy Hollow (based on the story by Washington Irving; adaptation of the Paramount/Mandalay Pictures film), illustrated by Kelley Jones, Jason Moore, and Daniel Vozzo, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Teddy Kristiansen) House of Secrets: Façade, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2001.

The Crusades: Urban Decree, illustrated by Kelley Jones and Jason Moore, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2001.

Green Lantern: Brightest Day, Blackest Night, illustrated by John K. Snyder III and Todd Klein, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Mike Allred) Vertical, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2003.

It's a Bird—, illustrated by Teddy Kristiansen, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2004.

(With others) Constantine: The Hellblazer Collection, Titan Books, 2005.

OTHER

Also author of single-issue comic book Superman—The 10-Cent Adventure, DC Comics. Author of screenplays, including House of Secrets, 1998.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A graphic-novel version of Encyclopedia Brown.

SIDELIGHTS: Although writer Steven T. Seagle has worked in many different genres, ranging from film and television to graphic novels, he has attracted the most attention for his work on the iconic figure of Superman. First created in 1934 by Cleveland teenagers Jerry Siegal and Joe Schuster, Superman epitomized the American dream for generations of comic-book-loving readers. An immigrant from the doomed planet Krypton, Superman arrived in the United States via rocket ship and was raised in a classic Midwestern environment. The character achieved even greater popularity as a television series in the 1950s, and as a two-part big-screen epic adventure beginning in the late 1970s. With each succeeding generation, however, Superman has been reinvented to appeal to changing concepts of heroism. Seagle is one of a very few writers who have been involved in interpreting the Superman character for new generations of readers.

Seagle initially earned his reputation by writing for small-press publishers such as Image Comics, and then moved on to work on adult-audience graphic novels for more mainstream publishers, including giants DC and Marvel. These comics deal with themes far removed from the original comic-book concept. For example, his 2000 book, The Crusades: Urban Decree, is "about violence," the author told an interviewer for ComicsContinuum.com. Seagle used the graphic novel format to explore the concept and realization of violence in today's society through a story that features a modern-day crusader. This knight campaigns against villainy by maiming and killing wicked people. "People are always talking about their rights to bear arms and the Constitution," Seagle said. "I just started thinking about how people are ready to blow somebody away, but is that really what they want in society?"

The graphic novels Seagle creates also experiment with the traditional comic-book format. In Vertical, for instance, he plays with the concept of verticality. Not only does his protagonist, Brando Bale, move vertically in space by jumping off buildings (and surviving), the entire graphic novel is oriented vertically: "it's half the width of a standard comic book," explained Ray Olson in his Booklist review of Vertical. "Deliberately slight and feyly droll," Olson concluded, "this is … Vertigo's tenth anniversary present to fans."

It's a Bird—is in many ways less a story about Superman than about the book's writer, Seagle himself. The story looks at what Superman means in the context of the various crises author-protagonist Steve faces in the course of the book. At the same time he is invited to write Superman's adventures, Steve is faced with his father's disappearance, his girlfriend's ticking biological clock, and his own fears that he might be suffering from Huntington's disease, a genetic neuromuscular disorder. Steve turns down the opportunity to write for "Superman" because the character seems so perfect and capable, in direct contrast to Steve's feelings of helplessness and incapacity. "The story is semiautobiographical," Seagle told Daniel Robert Epstein in an interview for Underground Online, "because it has elements from my family's story. I wanted to look at why Superman is resilient because I think he still has importance in the world today."

Seagle explores the symbolic meaning of the Superman character in It's a Bird—through a series of meditations by the character Steve, who is a;sp involved in the search for his father. In the process of his search, related Steve Raiteri in his Library Journal review, the character "tries to find an approach to Superman, riffing on various aspects of Superman's mythos." "Steve's searching deconstructions of the icon," wrote Tom Russo in an Entertainment Weekly review, "serve as the cutaways from his increasingly moody … interactions." "What follows," declared Charles de Lint in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, "is a meditation on what the realities of an alien such as the Superman character existing in the real world would be."

For Seagle, the character of Superman remains a forceful icon for the modern world. "I know there is a lot of bashing when it comes to Superman," Seagle explained to Epstein, "such as people say he is outdated but he's not. If he was outdated he would cease to exist. I thought the right way to do that was to compare him to an average Joe or in my case an average Steve." "It's a sweet, clever meditation on what makes the concept of Superman so powerful," stated a review for Publishers Weekly, "and the troubled relationship between powerful concepts and creative narrative."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 1, 2004, Ray Olson, review of Vertical, p. 966; April 1, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of It's a Bird—, p. 1358.

Entertainment Weekly, May 14, 2004, Tom Russo, review of It's a Bird—, p. 76.

Library Journal, September 1, 2004, Steve Raiteri, review of It's a Bird—, p. 129.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October-November, 2004, Charles De Lint, review of It's a Bird—, p. 37.

Publishers Weekly, March 15, 2004, review of It's a Bird—, p. 57.

ONLINE

ComicsContinuum.com, http://www.comicscontinuum.com/ (May 11, 2005), "Seagle's Crusades" (interview).

Fresh Air with Terry Gross Web site, http://www.whyy.org/freshair/ (May 11, 2005), Terry Gross, "Comic Book Writer Steven Seagle."

PaperbackReader.com, http://www.paperbackreader.com/ (May 11, 2005), review of Superman—The 10-Cent Adventure.

Science Fact & Fiction Concatenation Web site, http://www.concatenation.org/ (May 11, 2005), Tony Chester, review of Constantine: The Hellblazer Collection.

Underground Online, http://www.ugo.com/ (May 11, 2005), Daniel Robert Epstein, interview with Seagle and review of It's a Bird—.

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