The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is rich with characters. The two protagonists of the title are fully supported by a cast that is vast and diverse, filled with fictional and historical figures alike. Indeed, the history in which the story situates itself is a character as well; historical events assist in shaping the path of the narrative and historical figures such as Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Eleanor Roosevelt, Estes Kefauver and many others make appearances of various significance in the novel, often to help make a point about Joe or Sammy or by coming to the plot's aid. Seeing the premiere of Citizen Kane and meeting Orson Welles prompts Joe and Sammy to transform the comic book genre and create a new form for the medium, essentially paving the way for the graphic novels we know today. Max Ernst appears at the moment Joe is deciding whether or not he should know Rosa better; Eleanor Roosevelt eliminates a very real obstacle that bars Tommy's passage. Estes Kefauver and his hearings allow Chabon to make a slight jab at the paranoia-fed persecution that was running rampant in the 1950s, while he also demonstrates the extent to which television played a part. Likewise, the real comic book makers themselves— Stan Lee, Gil Kane and Frank Pantaleone, are just three—make an appearance, offering keen insight into their own profession. The way in which all of these "real life" characters interact with the fictional ones creates a...
(The entire section is 1079 words.)
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Sheldon Anapol, an owner of Empire Comics and Joe and Sam’s boss for several years, is a businessman first and foremost and plays his historic role in cheating two naïve young men out of their multi-million dollar idea. But he is not without a conscience, having worked hard more than a decade at his own, less-successful novelty business. As co-owner of Empire Comics (with his brother-in-law Jack Ashkenazy), Anapol is subject to both its successes and its troubles. Even as Anapol is settling into a life made comfortable by lots of money, he is also receiving death threats from Nazi-sympathizers and a major law suit from the owners of Superman. While making deals for radio plays and movie shorts, Anapol tries to convince Sammy and Joe to stop beating up Nazis so that he can get a decent night’s rest. His relationship to the Escapist is purely business.
Jack Ashkenazy, the brother of Sheldon Anapol’s wife as well as Anapol’s business partner in Empire Comics, has bad taste in everything from literature to clothing. Ashkenazy’s success results from the intelligence and talent of the people around him, namely Anapol, Deasey, Joe, and Sammy. When he left Empire Comics in 1943, Ashkenazy tried out several other business ventures but they all failed.
Tracy Bacon, Sammy’s true love, lives life vigorously, working as an actor and...
(The entire section is 2279 words.)