I'm about two thirds of the way through the book now and while I normally would wait until I was done to do any sort of review or recommendation, this one is just too good to hold back. If you're reading this, and you haven't already read the book, please do yourself a favor and pick yourself up a copy. It is one of the most fun books I've ever felt good about reading!
The core premise (from Wikipedia):
The novel follows the lives of the title characters, a Czech artist named Joe Kavalier and a Brooklyn-born writer named Sam Clay—both Jewish—before, during, and after World War II. Kavalier and Clay become major figures in the nascent comics industry during its "Golden Age."
On top of being an excellent yarn with truly fascinating characters who are richly developed - strong and talented, yet fallible and human - one really exciting element of the book is picture it paints of the world of comic books in the 1940s. Originally pulp fare marketed only to children, the story of their evolution into a more popular and artful medium is intricately woven into the pages of this book. There is a chapter about half way through that directly tackles the subject of crass entertainment evolving into art forms and when I finished reading I had to put the book down to write down the names of everyone in the gaming industry who I wanted to read this book.
I've never read anything quite like it so have a hard time drawing comparisons, but there are elements of 'Understanding Comics', some of the whimsical Hero fantasy of 'Soon I Will Be Invincible' and some really interestingly integrated real-world history.
David, Kim, Patrick, Clint - if any of you are reading this, make sure to put Kavalier & Clay on your Christmas wish lists.