Robert Mayer, journalist and author of the satirical superhero novel Superfolks (1977), died earlier this week at age 80. He attended the City College of New York and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. After graduation, Mayer joined the Washington Post before going to Newsday, where he became its New York City columnist, and in 1968 he won the National Headliner Award, given to the best feature columnist in the country. In both 1969 and 1971 he won the Mike Berger Award, given for the year's best writing about New York City, and was the first person to ever win it twice. Mayer moved to Santa Fe, N.Mex., in the 1970s to focus on book writing. He was the author of 13 novels three nonfiction works.
Superfolks stars David Brinkley, a Superman-like figure who comes from the planet Cronk and is weak to the substance Cronkite. Brinkley's superhuman powers fade as other heroes die or retire, such as when Batman crashes into a school bus or Wonder Woman becomes a feminist lecturer. When his abilities return years later, Brinkley must defeat the evil alien elf Pxyzsyzygy with a little help from an older gay version of Peter Pan and the ex-superhero Captain Mantra. Mayer's deconstruction of the genre was influential to comic creators like Grant Morrison, Kurt Busiek and Alan Moore. In 2005, St. Martin's Griffin released Superfolks with a new foreword by Grant Morrison ($18.99, 9780312339920).