Danny Fingeroth is widely recognized for his roles as a comic book writer, editor, and expert. However, the term ‘Truth Seeker’ is also fitting when considering his impressive literary contributions. His works, including Superman on the Couch, A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee, and his recent 2023 publication, Jack Ruby: The Many Faces of Oswald’s Assassin are testaments to his meticulous research and engaging writing style.
These books not only showcase Danny’s talent but also his unique ability to uncover and articulate complex truths. His latest work is yet another remarkable accomplishment.
Danny returns to Comic Book Historians to answer questions on his new biography of Jack Ruby:
1) From comic books to political assassinations what brought you to write this book on Jack Ruby?
The project started out about twelve years ago as a graphic novel bio with Rick Geary as artist but didn’t happen (although it might someday), but since I now have some cred as a biographer with my Stan Lee bio, my agent was able to sell it as a prose book, and I did a lot more research and analysis and now the book is here. I wasn’t obsessed with the assassination or Ruby until I started thinking about them for the GN, but ever since then, I have been.
2) Do you have a memory of where you were during the Kennedy and Oswald assassinations that in some way influenced you as a child to one day try to uncover more answers about this national series of events?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, on the afternoon of 11/22/63 I was coming home from buying used comics with a friend at a Manhattan second-hand magazine store when we ran into a couple of classmates who told us what had happened in Dallas. I don’t think I really understood the gravity of those events. Maybe I did understand but have blanked out the memory. I do remember that none of my usual shows were on TV that weekend because there was 24/7 coverage of the assassination, in an era when all the news was thought to be what would fit into 15 TV minutes. That frustration over being unable to watch my favorites was transformed into shock and confusion when Ruby shot Oswald.
3) What type of research did you have to do for a project like this? I asked because you did extensive research on your biography of Stan Lee as well. What are similarities and differences to that process between both books?
The process is in many ways similar. Not to trivialize the traumatic events surrounding the murders of Kennedy and Oswald, but 1963 was a big year for everyone involved with the JFK assassination, and for Marvel Comics creators and fans. That was the year the Avengers and X-Men debuted, the year Captain America returned (in Avengers #4 that came out only about a month after the assassination), so in some strange way it all fueled my little kid consciousness. As far as research, I did new interviews—including with Ruby’s rabbi, Hillel Silverman (father of actor Jonathan Silverman of Weekend at Bernie’s)—did archival research, and read all or part of countless books by, and interviews with, relevant parties. My smart-aleck comment about the subjects of my two books is, “Stan Lee and Jack Ruby both had big years in 1963.”
4) What was particularly challenging about writing this, Jack Ruby book and how did you meet those challenges?
Anytime you write about something as controversial as the Kennedy assassination, you find yourself flooded with information and having to evaluate its relevance, as well as needing to decide how to put things together into a cohesive structure and not go too far down tempting rabbit holes. Readers will have to decide how well I met those challenges.
5) Does this mean that your career in comics history is in the past and political thrilling histories like this are a hallmark of your future projects?
I hope to write books on a wide variety of topics in the coming years. Hopefully they’ll be surprising and satisfying to readers and to me. I do like to think I have more to say on comics as artform and industry and about my history with both. Keep your eyes peeled.
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