Robert Mayer, best known in comic book circles as the author of Superfolks, the novel that inspired the likes of Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Kurt Busiek, had a few other novels under his belt. Including the rich historical fiction of The Origin of Sorrow and influential true crime work The Dreams of Ada.
He passed away in July but he left behind one last work, a novel called The Assassin: An American Life set across over eight decades of American history.
The Assassin is the tale of Exit Maisel (thank Ellis Island for the name), a Jewish immigrant who finds himself embraced by those in power, doing a broad range of tasks for presidents from FDR to Obama and beyond. It is a story not just of history – the horrors of Nazi Germany, the founding of Israel – and not just of the present moment (although that is very much in evidence), but of memory, its joys and imperfections, and of Parkinson's Disease and its ravages.
Mayer turned in the final pages of this novel exactly one month before the effects of Parkinson's took his own life away. Over his 80 years he had been a journalist, a columnist, an editor, as well the author of 17 books, both fiction and non-fiction (and that's not counting his being one of the many anonymous co-authors of the notorious best-selling sex-laden literary hoax Naked Came the Stranger.) His most recent prior book, the memoir Monkey Brain: A Writing Life, was released in 2017.
The publisher of that book, and the reissuing of Supergolks to a new audience, About Comics, is now publishing Mayer's final work.
The Assassin: An American Life is available as a 240-page trade paperback and as a Kindle e-book.