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Comic Book History of Comics
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Comic Book History of Comics

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  222 ratings  ·  56 reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 2012 by Idea & Design Works Llc
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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 ...more
Jul 24, 2012 Rick rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: comics
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 ...more
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.

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...
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.
David 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
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 ...more
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 ...more
C. Williams
A decent overview of the issues surrounding and shaping the history of comics that delves into some of the less-heard stories. It's nice to see a history of the comics code that recognizes Wertham as an influential psychologist who effected a lot of positive change in his career instead of depicting him as a merciless killjoy.

Of course, several important issues get short shrift – but that's to be expected from a broad history of a medium. There's just not enough time or space to delve into the c
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).
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."
I have three basic criteria by which I judge comics quality, irrespective of genre. In no particular order, I ask myself whether a book has: (1) distinctive, striking, or otherwise effective or affecting art; (2) a coherent and compelling narrative; and (3) information density or literary sophistication (and here I'm using the word "sophisticated" to connote use of visual or textual elements in combination to convey multiple layers of meaning, not in the colloquial sense of "maturity," or as the ...more
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!
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.
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!
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.
Dinuka Fernando
If you love comics and consider yourself a comic geek or you're curious of this strange world of comics, then this is the ultimate history guide in comic form. It's brilliant- pick it up and get educated!
Mauricio Muniz
Essencial para descobrir como foi criado e como funciona o mercado de quadrinhos nos EUA. Muitas curiosidades numa edição memorável. Recomendado!
Great idea for a fun-to-read history of the comics form, with lots of humor and visual gags tossed in for good measure.
Very well done. Thorough and critical, the scholarship is only enhanced by Dunlavey's renderings in homage-style.
Well, you can tell that this book was made by a Kirby fan. The narrative stream starts out with the boy who would become 'Kirby' discovering a cover of a pulp decades before he would have any impact on comics in the 1960s, with his story continuing through his public complaints about work-for-hire status and his oft-forgot settlement with Marvel thirty years ago (yes, he settled, let's move on).

Eisner is depicted as someone who didn't really make it in the real comics, for God's sake, but who w
Greg Pettit
When I saw the premise for this book, I was immediately excited. A history of comics done as a comic book is perfect! It would allow the writer to show exact examples of what he was describing. Sadly, the artwork is quite poor, and rarely takes advantage of the medium.

The writing is mostly solid, especially considering the vast amount of material covered. It's almost like trying to write the history of music. Even if you focused on just Rock 'n Roll, you would have to explain the roots, tangents
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
Ketan Shah
A lovingly writteen history of comics witth lots of little factoids that you may not have heard before. Ryan Dunlavey incorporates some laugh out loud gags into his his art . Deserves a place on any bookshelf next to Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics , Bradley Wright's Comic Book Nation and Gerard Jones Men of Tomorrow.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible ArtComic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in AmericaMen of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book
Gabriel Cravedi
When you pick up this book, you expect a lot of comics in one book. This book jumps around from comic to comic making you lose your place and your train of thought. You will not be able to comprehend what's going on in the book. Its a good book because it lists out the funny parts of a comic but if they were to put most or all of the book, then the overall book would be better.
This thorough, passionate and clever history is clearly a labor of love. I realize that cost was likely a prohibitive factor, but larger pages and panels would have been good; there's so much explanatory text crammed into the small panels that the reading experience can be overwhelming.
Oh, you have to be COMPLETELY besotted by comic books to find this extremely detailed tome of interest. Just because the information is presented as a comic book doesn’t mean it’s fascinating. Obviously, some folks who reviewed it found it so. Not I! ...more
Mike McVey
Overall a solid book. The authors do a good history of comic books, but they have troubles at times segueing from one topic to another. I really appreciate them giving proper credit to the various artists that created their art.
I found The Comic Book History of Comics somewhat difficult to rate. There's a LOT of panels on each page with a LOT of word panels and dialogue. On top of this the panels aren't always connected and rarely flow. It was really difficult to process and I found myself by around halfway through giving up on trying to read everything and just sort of glanced over each page and skimmed afterwards. I think the novelty of having a history of comics in comic form was interesting and the art was alright. ...more
Philip Cosand
Many kudos must be given to the book for its thoroughness. I have read my share of comic history, and much is new information. The underground scene and the more modern eras are especially informative. Instead of eras (Golden Age, Bronze Age, et al), the trip through time is told by following key creators (lots of Kirby, but also Pekar, Moore, Siegel).

Informative, yes. Highly engaging? Not as much. Perhaps I was trying to absorb all the information, but the book was a slow read, possibly even dr
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