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Comic Book History of Comics

(Comic Book History of Comics)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  543 ratings  ·  107 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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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  543 ratings  ·  107 reviews

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Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
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
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
Stewart Tame
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Aug 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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.

Cardyn Brooks
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Often wry, snide, ironic and sarcastic, The Comic Book History of Comics is an engaging introduction to the appeal and evolution of illustrated storytelling.
David Schaafsma
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: gn-pedagogy
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
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Derek Royal
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Ben Loory
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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...
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 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 ...more
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2012
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." ...more
Kevin Peterson!
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Scott Robins
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gn
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.
Jason Furman
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
M.A. Garcias
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Laura Stericker
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: idw-bundle
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.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
Very interesting ever to a middle aged lady who didn't grow up on traditional comic books.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Dave Suiter
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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 ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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.
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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).
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic, comics
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!
PJ Ebbrell
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
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!
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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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Fred Van Lente is the New York Times-bestselling author of comics as varied as Archer & Armstrong (Harvey Award nominee, Best Series), Taskmaster, MODOK's 11, Amazing Spider-Man, Conan the Avenger, Weird Detective, and Cowboys & Aliens (upon which the 2011 movie was based), as well as the novels Ten Dead Comedians and The Con Artist.

Van Lente also specializes in entertaining readers with offbeat

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