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For the first time ever, the inspiring, infuriating, and utterly insane story of comics, graphic novels, and manga is presented in comic book form! The award-winning Action Philosophers team of Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey turn their irreverent-but-accurate eye to the stories of Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, Harvey Kurtzman, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Fredric Wertham, For the first time ever, the inspiring, infuriating, and utterly insane story of comics, graphic novels, and manga is presented in comic book form! The award-winning Action Philosophers team of Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey turn their irreverent-but-accurate eye to the stories of Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, Harvey Kurtzman, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Fredric Wertham, Roy Lichtenstein, Art Spiegelman, Herge, Osamu Tezuka - and more! Collects Comic Book Comics #1-6.


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For the first time ever, the inspiring, infuriating, and utterly insane story of comics, graphic novels, and manga is presented in comic book form! The award-winning Action Philosophers team of Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey turn their irreverent-but-accurate eye to the stories of Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, Harvey Kurtzman, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Fredric Wertham, For the first time ever, the inspiring, infuriating, and utterly insane story of comics, graphic novels, and manga is presented in comic book form! The award-winning Action Philosophers team of Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey turn their irreverent-but-accurate eye to the stories of Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, Harvey Kurtzman, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Fredric Wertham, Roy Lichtenstein, Art Spiegelman, Herge, Osamu Tezuka - and more! Collects Comic Book Comics #1-6.

30 review for Comic Book History of Comics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I was willing to give this book a try because upon skimming, I saw that it gave Dr. Wertham a fair analysis: far, far too many books about comic books paint him as an egotist out to ruin harmless fun. Van Lente and Dunlavey present not only all the medical and especially social work he did that formed the background for his incendiary attitude toward '50s comics, they also (both fairly, and hilariously--I about choked with laughter at some panels in the p. 84-85 spread [Archie Andrews and Superm I was willing to give this book a try because upon skimming, I saw that it gave Dr. Wertham a fair analysis: far, far too many books about comic books paint him as an egotist out to ruin harmless fun. Van Lente and Dunlavey present not only all the medical and especially social work he did that formed the background for his incendiary attitude toward '50s comics, they also (both fairly, and hilariously--I about choked with laughter at some panels in the p. 84-85 spread [Archie Andrews and Superman sticking up a liquor store! wat]) presented his main arguments in Seduction of the Innocent and acknowledged the legitimate ones (racism, misogyny) while pointing out the illegitimacy of others (fascism, "promoting homosexuality," all comic books being 'crime' comics [see the aforementioned Archie & Supes panel]). This a very dense work, but it has to be: it's covering the development and history of comics from their inception (not only The Yellow Kid, but even further back, to Töpffer's captioned illustrations in the early 1800s!) to now, and presenting a wide range of creators during that history, including the events that tend to get swept under the rug in lionizing biographies: Stan Lee's highly collaborative work with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and how the lack of credit for Kirby and Ditko's input in the universe led to tensions and breaking within Marvel; Walt Disney's union-busting efforts in 1941, when he tried to get the organizers arrested by the FBI by denouncing them as communists; or Bob Kane refusing credit to the co-creator of Batman, Bill Finger, and to Jerry Robinson, who co-created the Joker and Robin with Finger. But this isn't some kind of exposé or tabloid tell-all, where Van Lente and Dunlavey just dig up dirt; it's more that they present all the sides of the people involved in the industry, good and bad, amazing and exploitative, because they recognize that comics were created by human beings and humans are messy creatures. This makes for a fascinating history. The last few chapters are harder to 'get' than the preceding, but I don't think this is an issue with Van Lente and Dunlavey's work so much as it's a reflection that the increasing corporatizing of the comic industry led to a dizzying amount of mergers, buy-outs, and other Wall Street mathematics--not to mention all the copyright issues, transfers, and other entanglements--and that's bloody hard to keep straight. It's really to their credit that the chapters on these situations ("No More Wednesdays" and "1986 AD," and also "The Grabbers," on the creators' rights legal battles in the '80s) are as clear as they are. P. 186, encapsulating the legal minefield of the U.S. Marvelman -> British Marvelman -> British Marvelman-imported-to-U.S.-and-renamed-Miracleman mess, sums it up pretty well. (It also has the distinction of being another 'choking on laughter' page.) The sheer amount of research, depth and breadth, dedication, and love for the medium in this work makes it worth all 5 stars. I only picked this up because my enjoyment of the recent Marvel universe movies made me a little interested in the background, and I was blown away by all that Van Lente and Dunlavey managed to encompass. Highly, highly recommended for comic book fans, of any level.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    This is a hard one to rate. It is a very dense, fairly interesting, unflaggingly homosocial history of comics, though it is not just one history, but overlapping, shifting histories, re-manifesting histories. By the end of the book it is clear that there are many ways to approach comic history and some versions could go back as far as several hundred years and some to the early nineteen hundreds (I would argue for cave paintings as another beginning). How and when does an art form begin? Where d This is a hard one to rate. It is a very dense, fairly interesting, unflaggingly homosocial history of comics, though it is not just one history, but overlapping, shifting histories, re-manifesting histories. By the end of the book it is clear that there are many ways to approach comic history and some versions could go back as far as several hundred years and some to the early nineteen hundreds (I would argue for cave paintings as another beginning). How and when does an art form begin? Where do we locate the earliest seedlings? Who knows. Creation myths are, after all, myths. But there are less mythical seminal moments that stand out. There are people who are clearly of utmost influence and importance. And Lente tries to clarify and describe these moments and immortalize the people who happen to be, every single one of them, men. So, what do I think of this book? It's tries to be silly at times when it doesn't need to be and probably shouldn't be. It confuses comic and comic (as if a book about sequential art has to be a comedy). Sometimes I worry Lente is stuck in Action Philosophers mode like an old fashioned record player, and he can't get out of that mode of hyper-active caricature. There are a lot of gags in here and it's just too packed with intensity and theatricality. There is a forced quality to the humor. Graphics work in a way that I find distracts from the text rather than offering textual collaboration. I think I would have loved a very similar but very different book. One addressing similar content, but with a different demeanor, a calmer, more confident approach, and one that isn't to the Bechdel test what a radish is to cheesecake.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Very nicely done! Van Lente and Dunlavey do an admirable job of condensing comics history into a single volume without leaving anything major out. This is comics history from an American point of view. Europe, the UK, and Japan are touched on only with regards to the ways in which their comics have been received in the USA, plus any pertaining cultural background--for the UK, for instance, Mick Anglo's Marvelman is mentioned partly for the Captain Marvel influence and partly because of its impac Very nicely done! Van Lente and Dunlavey do an admirable job of condensing comics history into a single volume without leaving anything major out. This is comics history from an American point of view. Europe, the UK, and Japan are touched on only with regards to the ways in which their comics have been received in the USA, plus any pertaining cultural background--for the UK, for instance, Mick Anglo's Marvelman is mentioned partly for the Captain Marvel influence and partly because of its impact on Alan Moore's career; 2000AD and Warrior get mentioned for similar reasons. Not a complaint so much as an observation. Comics history is full of fascinating sidebars that aren't really germane to the big picture. That said, there's an impressive level of detail in this book, and I'd even go so far as to call it the single best general overview of the subject I've ever read. It belongs on the shelf next to Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics as an essential text. Van Lente and Dunlavey are particularly good at showing broader cultural context. One reason the Golden Age of comics took off in New York City in particular was because there was a large pool of out of work talent due to Fleischer Animation Studios packing up and moving to Florida. I had not known that before, not being a student of animation history. The book is chock full of such interesting details. Highly recommended!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Raina

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Of COURSE this is incomplete. Partial. A bit scattered. The entire history of an art form is difficult to contain in a linear narrative. I appreciated reading this for myself, as an overview of points in comics history I haven't studied before. I feel like I understand the ownership rights drama a little bit better now that I've read this. And have more fodder for my ongoing opinion-forming re: superheroes and their pluses and minuses and ramifications for amerikan culture. BEC Yeah, yeah, yeah. Of COURSE this is incomplete. Partial. A bit scattered. The entire history of an art form is difficult to contain in a linear narrative. I appreciated reading this for myself, as an overview of points in comics history I haven't studied before. I feel like I understand the ownership rights drama a little bit better now that I've read this. And have more fodder for my ongoing opinion-forming re: superheroes and their pluses and minuses and ramifications for amerikan culture. BECAUSE there's SO MUCH Content, this feels a little breathless. The pages are packed with illustrations and text, and the reader gets no breaks. So, I feel like, as a comic book, this could be better crafted. But the content is important and worth communicating. I'd almost say this would be a good text book for high school or so, but there's enough R rated content, maybe not so much. :) Obviously biased and from a particular point of view, but fairly transparent in that point of view. The coverage of Disney is particularly intriguing. And I'm glad I now have context for names like Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Osamu Tezuka. It's a good start. ::cough cough would comics history pass the bechdel test? cough cough::

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cardyn Brooks

    Often wry, snide, ironic and sarcastic, The Comic Book History of Comics is an engaging introduction to the appeal and evolution of illustrated storytelling.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    This is impressive, I guess, in the very achievement of a comic book history of comics, as Scott McCloud helps us see comic theory through comic form...I can't say I really liked it, visually, though I see what they are doing, to pay homage to the various styles across the decades... But I still didn't love it... and its smart, well-researched, snarky, smart-assed, but I can't say I ever laughed or even smiled much... it's a bit of work to get through, as useful as it is for serious comics histo This is impressive, I guess, in the very achievement of a comic book history of comics, as Scott McCloud helps us see comic theory through comic form...I can't say I really liked it, visually, though I see what they are doing, to pay homage to the various styles across the decades... But I still didn't love it... and its smart, well-researched, snarky, smart-assed, but I can't say I ever laughed or even smiled much... it's a bit of work to get through, as useful as it is for serious comics historians... it's intended to be entertaining but ends up feeling corny to me a lot. I have started this a couple times and put it down, saw all the rave reviews for it and thought I should get through it, give it a chance... I think it is a good basic intro to the whole history, so it's impressive in that respect, and never intends to be "objective," as in a typical history book, which I also appreciate. the scope of it for only 200 pages for the whole of the history is also pretty impressive... an impossible task to do to most people's satisfaction, I guess... or mine, at least!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, creators of the unexpected and exceptional Action Philosophers, return to the nonfiction comics realm with this hilarious and insightful history of their chosen medium. Much like in Philosophers, the duo effectively uses exaggeration and humor. Van Lente employees asides and one-liners. Dunlavey relies on the best techniques from cartoonist forebearers. Perhaps nothing benefits more from this style than the events involving EC. They manage to display M.C. Gaines Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, creators of the unexpected and exceptional Action Philosophers, return to the nonfiction comics realm with this hilarious and insightful history of their chosen medium. Much like in Philosophers, the duo effectively uses exaggeration and humor. Van Lente employees asides and one-liners. Dunlavey relies on the best techniques from cartoonist forebearers. Perhaps nothing benefits more from this style than the events involving EC. They manage to display M.C. Gaines as a visionary, victim, and buffoon, often all at the same time. Though not as thorough as other similar prose histories, The Comic Book History of Comics covers the highlights in an energetic and exciting fashion of the convoluted, chaotic, and often tortured history in a unique and informative manner.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Derek Royal

    As with Action Philosophers, I got the individual issues of this title as they first came out. But reading the final product in toto is a different experience. This is a book I would like to teach, alongside Scott McCloud's, in an introductory comics class.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    outstanding! i could feel my brain percolating. so much fun. just a ton of information and presented so well and clearly. only now i feel a really expensive comics jag coming on...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mario

    This review originally appeared on my blog Shared Universe Reviews . In approximately 220 pages, Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey somehow manage to write and draw the history of comic books. This was a huge undertaking and anybody even slightly familiar with the history contained in this comic will know that. For those who didn’t know just how audacious a project this one, looking at the sources index organized by chapters will surely go a long way in helping you understand. The history of comics This review originally appeared on my blog Shared Universe Reviews . In approximately 220 pages, Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey somehow manage to write and draw the history of comic books. This was a huge undertaking and anybody even slightly familiar with the history contained in this comic will know that. For those who didn’t know just how audacious a project this one, looking at the sources index organized by chapters will surely go a long way in helping you understand. The history of comics is long and rich enough that there have been books published that focused narrowly on even just one of the many subjects Van Lente and Dunlavey present in The Comic Book History of Comics. Still, the creative team did have to concentrate their efforts a bit and they do put the focus mostly on the development of American comics. Nevertheless, they take the time to highlight the importance and the contributions of outside markets and sometimes even concentrate on the importance of specific creators such as Osamu Tezuka. Two things really stuck out to me while reading. The first is that it was a regular practice for most publishers since the early days of comics to print and sell as many issues and titles of whatever appeared to be popular at the present time. Because of this you got large booms in particular genres for a relatively short period of time only to see them vanish just as quickly. The rise and fall of romance comics is but one example of this. After learning that it’s discomforting to notice that the trend still seems to be going on today. The second thing that stuck out was that creators regularly mistreated one another, sometimes in public and often in public locals, most notably courts of law. It saddens me as someone who regularly reads and enjoys comics and believes the creator rights that there has been, and unfortunately continues to be, numerous battles (often legal in nature) between creators. I'm aware that not all of them fought so much but it's upsetting to know that Stan Lee has his little cameo in all the Marvel studio movies and that his name is widely known. His name is often dropped in episodes of The Big Bang Theory and he's appeared on the show at least once. But how many of the show’s non-comics-reading fans even know who Jack Kirby is and how many of those are aware of the constant mistreatment he faced during the entire length of his prolific and influential career in comics? It can be far too easy to enjoy reading comics in a vacuum within considering what goes on behind the scenes but I appreciate being given a reminder of the hardships some of the comic creators faced. It makes you appreciate their body of work more and it also makes you think a little about who you’re giving your money to when you buy your comics. I’d much rather purchase a comic such The Comic Book History of Comics than the 9 batman titles they sell each month. Both of those frustrations seem to primarily affect the American comics industry. It's quite nice that Van Lente and Dunlavey showed why there didn’t seem to be the same issues in the European market. Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey are unapologetic in their approach to the history of the medium they clearly love. They provide a balanced view of comic book history, sometimes including things like the Walt Disney and Max Fleischer animation war, which I wouldn’t automatically related to comics works well in the context. Van Lenteand Dunlavey are clear in their explanation as to why the animation war played an important role in the development of comics and creator rights legal battles. The Comic Book History of Comics makes me feel bad for having ignored or neglected to read some important comics work. I mean, I’ve never even read Maus. Pretty shameful, I know. Still, I’m grateful for the creative team’s push to explore more classic comic works. The ending is spot on. Despite the fact that the comics industry has faced numerous issues and setbacks in its history, the book ends on a positive note. I’m sure if we looked at the history of film we would find as much in-fighting and lawsuits and idea stealing as we did here. It’s part of the entertainment industry and it’s easy to understand why creators defend their ideas so vehemently. One of the strengths of this important work is that the creative team accepts the good along with the bad and presents all of these to the reader. As a bonus to us, they do so with wit, humour and sharp criticism. It’s an absolute delight to read and, perhaps surprisingly, incredibly informative.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    All in all, I was expecting the Comic Book History of Comics to be better. It's an interesting concept, presenting the history of comics in comic form, but sadly let down by the execution. First off, I can't say I'm much of a comic geek, so my grounds for evaluating the history part are shaky. That said, it seemed disjointed and slapdash. It also felt rather one-sided, as if someone set out to write the history of the Golden Age and Silver Age and the rest was almost an afterthought- the parts a All in all, I was expecting the Comic Book History of Comics to be better. It's an interesting concept, presenting the history of comics in comic form, but sadly let down by the execution. First off, I can't say I'm much of a comic geek, so my grounds for evaluating the history part are shaky. That said, it seemed disjointed and slapdash. It also felt rather one-sided, as if someone set out to write the history of the Golden Age and Silver Age and the rest was almost an afterthought- the parts about foreign comics in particular seem tacked on, almost as if the author showed someone the manuscript and they came back at him with 'hey, what about the rest of the world?' There was no coherent narrative. That might have been all right, given that this is a comic book, if the author had also chosen to showcase different styles from section to section, but the same style is used throughout, aside from occasional obligatory take-offs on particular characters or artists. It isn't a particularly interesting style, and it fails to make many of the earlier authors distinct from one another, with the exception of Jack Kirby. ("Wait, which guy in a generic shirt and pants is that again?") I wavered between two and three stars on this one, but decided to go with three, mostly because it's Christmas.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    This covers a lot about the history of comics. Does this cover everything? No. Was I expecting it to cover everything? No. Covering every historical event in the comic book world would be nearly impossible to do I would think. With this you get what the creators found important...like in most nonfiction. Of course I could give a list of things they forgot about, but it wouldn't be as interesting to read about things I already knew. I'm glad they focused on topics I wasn't that interested in and This covers a lot about the history of comics. Does this cover everything? No. Was I expecting it to cover everything? No. Covering every historical event in the comic book world would be nearly impossible to do I would think. With this you get what the creators found important...like in most nonfiction. Of course I could give a list of things they forgot about, but it wouldn't be as interesting to read about things I already knew. I'm glad they focused on topics I wasn't that interested in and it thought me a bit about things I didn't know about like Will Eisner coining the term "graphic novel." Keep in mind this book focus more on creators and artist and the companies over the superheros themselves. Honestly, I think we should know more about the people who created the books, just like we do with an author of a book or a singer of a song and so on. Keep in mind this was published in 2012 too. The stop with the internet. Maybe an updated version would talk more about the movies and how they got all these new readers into the medium too. Overall this is worth the read if you are a mega comic nerd. Either way READ MORE COMICS AND NOVELS!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    Great exploration of the history of American comics (there is some info on European and Japanese comics, but it's primarily about the U.S.). Comics is a great medium for presenting information, so this is a good fit. It seems odd that it took so long for somebody to do a history of comics in comics form. I hope Van Lente & Dunlavey do more non-fiction comics to sit alongside this and their earlier "Action Philosophers Comics." Great exploration of the history of American comics (there is some info on European and Japanese comics, but it's primarily about the U.S.). Comics is a great medium for presenting information, so this is a good fit. It seems odd that it took so long for somebody to do a history of comics in comics form. I hope Van Lente & Dunlavey do more non-fiction comics to sit alongside this and their earlier "Action Philosophers Comics."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Peterson!

    Utterly fascinating, clever, and brutally honest. Rips the band-aid off the wound of most of the unspoken truths and keeps going. Everything (almost) is covered from Disney (yay!) to Tezuka to Crumb to Image to piracy. The only comics "textbook" to actually touch on the history of comics that I know of. Isn't afraid to get dirty, but also doesn't choose sides (ie. Stan Lee/Kirby/Ditko/Marvel). Required reading for any fan of comics.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Scott Robins

    Packed with lots of great information but man, what a slog. This was essentially an overwritten dump of comics history with a lack of direction or focus. While the addition of the "women in comics" segments are appreciated (and important!) they feel completely tacked on here.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jason Furman

    I absolutely loved The Comic Book History of Comics. As the title says, it is in graphic novel (or comic book) format which works really well because the imagery shifts to gently mirror whatever subject the authors are talking on. The chapters are in thematic order that are roughly chronological but with lots of moving back and forth at is it covers the birth of the funnies, how they turned into comic strips, the first comic books, the golden age of superheroes, romance, horror, the legal battle I absolutely loved The Comic Book History of Comics. As the title says, it is in graphic novel (or comic book) format which works really well because the imagery shifts to gently mirror whatever subject the authors are talking on. The chapters are in thematic order that are roughly chronological but with lots of moving back and forth at is it covers the birth of the funnies, how they turned into comic strips, the first comic books, the golden age of superheroes, romance, horror, the legal battles over IP in the comic book industry, underground comics, graphic novels, French comics, and Japanese manga--among other topics. All of this is grounded in a broader cultural history. For example, LA based Disney and a more gritty, Jewish/urban group based in New York are competing. The former ends up winning out by developing feature length animated film, driving the later out of business--and creating a supply of Jewish artists in New York for the emerging comic book industry. Much later, Stan Lee becomes like an "auteur" at a time when auter's are rising in cinema. Pop culture like Lichtenstein and Warhol ends up legitimating comic books. The Nazis didn't allow American comic books in occupied France and Belgium, leading them to miss out on superheroes and develop their own independent comic cultures. The comics code in the 1950s in the United States limited what could and could not be shown in comics, leading to stagnation in traditional forms but eventually to the underground comics and the liberation of regular comics. I don't particularly like superhero comics but love graphic novels. Regardless of ones interest in these forms, this was an exciting literary and cultural history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    M.A. Garcias

    Writer Fred Van Lente tackles the arduous task of making a comic book story, and not only does he not disappoint but it does so in the most daring way. Although the data it exposes are more or less known by the fans, it contributes a historical perspective of several of the cultural movements and commercial phenomena that marked the evolution of the comic. Focusing on American comics but with brief drifts for European and manga, this is the first text in which I have seen tackle without concessi Writer Fred Van Lente tackles the arduous task of making a comic book story, and not only does he not disappoint but it does so in the most daring way. Although the data it exposes are more or less known by the fans, it contributes a historical perspective of several of the cultural movements and commercial phenomena that marked the evolution of the comic. Focusing on American comics but with brief drifts for European and manga, this is the first text in which I have seen tackle without concessions controversial topics such as censorship, the rights of authors over their creation or digital piracy. In addition, what could be a long narrative full of dates and names is enlivened thanks to the complicity of artist Ryan Dunlavey, whose art is evolving remarkably, and that using all kinds of gags and visual metaphors (some unfriendly with their protagonists) makes us The course much more enjoyable. It reads like an informative, but also vindicative work, written from a certain indie militancy. Absolutely recommended for comic fans who want to know about the long distance the medium had to go in order to reach its current status, and some unedifying stories of the great American publishers, who should be grateful that this work has been published with IDW and that the average Superhero fan will not bother to read it (although the writer is working for Marvel now, oh the irony).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cale

    Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlevy do a pretty good job of detailing the history of comics in America here, with issues focusing on origins, World War II, the Comics Code's creation, the Marvel early years, underground comics and more. It manages to juggle a number of threads in a fairly coherent throughline, although there is a bit of jumping back and forth through time and introducing prominent people before letting them hang out in the background for an issue before resolving their stories (this Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlevy do a pretty good job of detailing the history of comics in America here, with issues focusing on origins, World War II, the Comics Code's creation, the Marvel early years, underground comics and more. It manages to juggle a number of threads in a fairly coherent throughline, although there is a bit of jumping back and forth through time and introducing prominent people before letting them hang out in the background for an issue before resolving their stories (this is most notable in Robert Crumb's section). Still, it's a massive amount of information that is presented in an intelligible way, with art that is both reflective of the plot and the eras the story is moving through, which is an impressive feat. This collection ends in the early 70's, so there's room for another volume (and there's the Comics For All volume, which approaches from a more world-wide perspective), that I hope the authors will get a chance to address. They've done a great job of using the medium to tell the story of the medium, which can be a challenge.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura Stericker

    As a new and casual comic collector, this graphic novel provides useful context on the history of comics. I found the earlier parts of the book to be a bit boring, but towards the end where I knew a little more the context I enjoyed it more. I'm a little disappointed that it's in black and white: I liked the changing art style demonstrating new developments in comics towards the beginning, and it would have been cool if that had continued into changes in approach to colour.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Very interesting ever to a middle aged lady who didn't grow up on traditional comic books.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hugh_Manatee

    I wish I could build an entire course around this. Simply the best, most intriguing and most entertaining history of comics out there. A must for any musty fingered comic fan.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dave Suiter

    The Comic Book History of Comics by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey presents the long and storied history of the comic book and graphic novel art form and the industry that spawned it in the only format befitting the true history of comics, a comic book. In this meticulously researched book you will laugh, you will howl and you will even learn a thing or two about comics in America and all over the world. In this book, IDW Publishing has collected the six issue series Comic Book Comics originall The Comic Book History of Comics by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey presents the long and storied history of the comic book and graphic novel art form and the industry that spawned it in the only format befitting the true history of comics, a comic book. In this meticulously researched book you will laugh, you will howl and you will even learn a thing or two about comics in America and all over the world. In this book, IDW Publishing has collected the six issue series Comic Book Comics originally published by Evil Twin Comics. This wonderfully drawn and written history begins before comics were known as comics and carries on through modern times delving into the direct comic market and comic book piracy. The writer, Van Lente, and the artist, Dunlavey, don’t just tell you the history of comics in a “here are the facts” sort of way. This book combines the words and the pictures into a deep narrative where each part tells you something about the birth and growth of the medium. Using caricatures for some of the biggest comic book influences from William M. Gaines to Jack Kirby to Robert Crumb and Alan Moore the art gives the book its distinct look. Dunlavey’s art is not limited to caricatures; each page is highly detailed and dense with art that tells the story of comic books. The pictures echo the words on the page reinforcing the history and giving a broader view of the events that words cannot convey. Dunlavey’s detailed style creates little moments within the narrative. It is the symbolism he uses to give greater understanding to the story. When the Comics Code Authority is introduced bringing about the end of American crime and horror comics in the 1950s, Dunlavey has a squad of storm troopers attacking the vampire caricature symbolizing comic horror. The storm troopers wear badges with the distinct Comics Code Authority ‘A’ on their sleeves. Fine points like these create the metaphors that words cannot. Van Lente tells the history at a stimulating pace. Covering the significant moments with depth and clarity using punchy dialogue that entertains as it recounts the details. Big events in the developments of the medium are given proper attention. Did you know that when Walt Disney released “Snow White” it had a profound impact on the development of comic books? This full-length animated movie put New York’s top animators out of work and created a plethora of talented artists hungry for work. What was the medium the artists found? Comic books. The creation of the Marvel Universe in 1961 also receives a great introduction to Stan Lee’s changing of Timely Comics into Marvel Comics. Van Lente mimics Lee’s bombastic dialogue as Lee toils with his future and desire to come up with something new that would either be his last hurrah in comics or the birth of realism in comic books. Dunlavey’s art uses the iconic imagery of Marvel in the 1960s to hammer home Lee’s enthusiastic thought process which led to the creation of the Fantastic Four. The book is not limited to the creation of comic books but also looks at the stigma that surrounds comic books. Van Lente and Dunlavey explore why comics in the United States are viewed as immature and for children, where in Europe and Japan comic books are a form of high art and are revered by not just comic book readers but by the entire culture. This stigma of comics can be traced back to World War II and the immediate aftermath. Just as American publishers were stifling their own creativity with the Comics Code Authority, Japan and Europe were developing new and innovative comics that covered all genres. Americans became great at making super hero comic books, but thanks to some anti-American sentiment and a desire to make their own art, Europe led by the French, and Japan were challenging what comic books can be. It is something American comics are trying to reclaim but struggle with to this day. This book pulls no punches and talks about the seedy origins of comics and the unsavory characters that played a roll in creating some of the most beloved characters in comic books. Van Lente and Dunlavey present all arguments and sides to all stories in an understandable format. Topics from creator’s rights, creative disputes, the Marvel Method, the underground comics scene and the black and white boom of the 1980s are all explored lending much to the wide and varied tapestry that is the history of the comic books. This history book will appeal to history buffs and comic aficionados and fans.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Whew! I had no idea this would be so dense when I started it, but I'm better off for it! I was surprised to see van Lente bring in bits of animation history where it overlapped with comics history and was interested to find out how much it influenced the comics industry. It picks up pretty quickly after that, covering such major events as the Seduction of the Innocence and the Senate subcommittee hearings, the creation of Marvel Comics, the underground comix scene, the battle over creators' righ Whew! I had no idea this would be so dense when I started it, but I'm better off for it! I was surprised to see van Lente bring in bits of animation history where it overlapped with comics history and was interested to find out how much it influenced the comics industry. It picks up pretty quickly after that, covering such major events as the Seduction of the Innocence and the Senate subcommittee hearings, the creation of Marvel Comics, the underground comix scene, the battle over creators' rights between artists like Jack Kirby and Jerry Siegel, the "British Invasion" in the mid-eighties and the speculation boom and bust in the eighties and nineties, and the development of Franco-Belgian and Japanese comics. Any chapter could be a jumping off point for further research on any of those topics and van Lente's and Dunlavey's presentation effectively stirs up interest in doing further research in almost all of them. This is definitely only a starting point, but the extensive chapter notes at the end provide plenty of avenues for exploration. One major thing that struck me was that modern comics is a pretty uniquely American invention, with early comics providing inspiration in both Europe and Japan. It's a little sad to see how much more culturally accepted they are there as well, without having had the near-death blow that Americans comics had because of Wertham in the 1950's.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    This book is dense, but had me hooked the whole time. I feel like I understand the comic book world so much more. Obviously it can't cover everything, but seeing the way all creators, world events, trends, the economy and more all interwove to impact funny books is super interesting. Also, four for you, Jack Kirby. You go, Jack Kirby.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Halley

    This book was truly excellent. Having met the authors, I knew they were both extraordinarily knowledgeable comics fans but what sets them apart is their attention to detail and the level of research which they so obviously put into every panel. By the same team that produced Action Philosophers, this book was just as fascinating and just as eye-opening. I would recommend it to anyone who reads comic books (or wants to).

  26. 4 out of 5

    P.

    This isn't the kind of comic you fly through - if I hadn't felt pressure from the other books I'm supposed to be reading I would have taken this even more slowly. There's a lot of information here, and even helped with the illustration (so handy at identifying recurring figures) it's hard to unpack sometimes. But worth it!

  27. 5 out of 5

    PJ Ebbrell

    Superb graphic content of mainly USA history of comics, although it does go further a field later on. A good early part on 1930s comic history and very sympathetic to that towering great of USA's comics - Jack Kirby.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    This book took me longer to read than I ever planned. It's excellent but I never had the opportunity to actually sit down and read it. Fortunately ask my flights lately have afforded me such a time. I loved it!

  29. 4 out of 5

    MAD

    Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey deliver an insightful illustrated journey through comic book history. The book is filled with pop culture observations. It takes you behind the scenes of the art studios and distros that have made comics what they are today. Worth reading for any comic book fan.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Marvelous! Illuminating, analytical, with a lot of insight into how and why comics developed as they did, primarily in America, but also touching on Great Britain, Europe, and Japan. Has a great bibliography, but most of all, this book is hilarious!

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