NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • From the legendary actor and best-selling author: a novel about the making of a star-studded, multimillion-dollar superhero action film...and the humble comic books that inspired it. Funny, touching, and wonderfully thought-provoking, while also capturing the changes in America and American culture since World War II.
"Wild, ambitious and exceptionally enjoyable." —Matt Haig, best-selling author The Midnight Library, The Humans and Reasons to Stay Alive
Part One of this story takes place in 1947. A troubled soldier, returning from the war, meets his talented five-year-old nephew, leaves an indelible impression, and then disappears for twenty-three years.
Cut to 1970: The nephew, now drawing underground comic books in Oakland, California, reconnects with his uncle and, remembering the comic book he saw when he was five, draws a new version with his uncle as a World War II fighting hero.
Cut to the present day: A commercially successful director discovers the 1970 comic book and decides to turn it into a contemporary superhero movie.
Cue the cast: We meet the film’s extremely difficult male star, his wonderful leading lady, the eccentric writer/director, the producer, the gofer production assistant, and everyone else on both sides of the camera.
Bonus material: Interspersed throughout are three comic books that are featured in the story—all created by Tom Hanks himself—including the comic book that becomes the official tie-in to this novel’s "major motion picture masterpiece."
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This engaging, fun novel offers a realistic depiction of how a movie gets made—and it’s authored by one of America’s most successful actors. Quirky but brilliant director Bill Johnson is clacking away on an antique typewriter as he works on the next big superhero blockbuster. As his project gets underway, we travel back in time to meet the young comic artist named Robby who first created the superhero character after hearing about his uncle’s hellish experiences during World War II. And Tom Hanks is particularly well-suited to tell a story about filmmaking and the impact of the Second World War given his passion for both topics. Don’t miss this story of how the creative process reverberates through the generations.
Actor Hanks explores the making of a superhero film epic in his entertaining debut novel (after the collection Uncommon Type). In 1947, Bob Falls finds it difficult to adapt back to civilian life after returning from the battlefields of WWII. In 1970, his artist nephew, Robby Andersen, creates a comic book series titled The Legend of Firefall inspired by his uncle's experiences wielding a flamethrower in the Pacific theater. In the present, writer-director-producer Bill Johnson decides to use Andersen's comic as the basis for a superhero film. Cast as Firefall is O.K. Bailey, an actor whose ego knows no bounds, while the female lead, Wren Lake, is as savvy as she is beautiful and talented. The shoot gets underway in Robby's hometown of Lone Butte, Calif., where the production is complicated by marital disharmony between a rising star actor and his neglected wife, the unexpected death of a beloved character actor, and a stalker who threatens Wren's life. Pages from Firefall, illustrated by R. Sikoryak, appear throughout and are a hoot (in one panel, Firefall's sergeant gives the order "light 'em up" while lighting Firefall's cigarette). Neither slashing satire nor moody melodrama, this sincerely Hanksian paean to the people behind the scenes of a movie production comes to life with great characters. It's a winner.
A Love Letter To Art
For the first 40 or so pages I wasn’t totally sure where this was going. Then it all clicked and I just was loving the ride.
Tom Hanks is being criticized for the amount of detail in this novel. But if you are a film fan, it is fascinating to read every single word about the art & the business of movie-making. His characters and their stories are the threads that, woven together, make the reader understand a little about the way things work -or don’t - in Hollywood.
Stick to acting, Tom . .
I had high hopes for this book, especially after reading about Ernie and his son Robbie. But half way through, the plot went flat. Way too much detail, jumping around . . not a consistent time line. And characters? Again, too many and too much detail. Wondering if the details was just fluff to add to the word count, increasing the total number of pages. Half way through, I deleted the book. Wish I could get my money back. But, I wouldn’t miss any movie with Tom Hanks!