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Comic Book History of Comics Paperback – June 5, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1613771975
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613771976
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 6.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #251,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
The art often works to good effect as a counterpoint to the narration and dialogue.
A. Sanford
Covering the significant moments with depth and clarity using punchy dialogue that entertains as it recounts the details.
David Suiter
Great, entertaining book, and I learned a few things, even being a life-long comic book fan.
H. L. Parten

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Sanford on August 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
While no single text could possibly contain the entire history of all comics, this book does a great job balancing a good overview and providing enough interesting detail. The last few years have seen an explosion in books regarding the history of comics but this is the first comic book version on that subject. I have read most of those books and feel this one provides new insight into the matter and is also comprehensive. If you had to pick one book, I would make this the book of choice for the history of comics.

The book manages to convey a surprisingly large volume of information while retaining a sense of humor and being fun to read. The art often works to good effect as a counterpoint to the narration and dialogue. It starts at the beginnings and goes right up to the present looking at digital comics and piracy concerns. The history of comics is the history of the 20th Century in America, making this not only a good gift for comic book fans but also for fans of history, pop culture or just a good read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ursiform TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
To start with, I was provided an electronic, pre-publication review copy by the publisher. Many of the graphics near the end of the book were missing this copy. For the purposes of this review, I will assume they are of similar quality to those in the rest of the book.

This book could have been called the Comic Book History of Comic Books, because it only covers comic books. It rarely mentions newspaper comics. I also expected some use of original subjects, but this book is entirely a newly-drawn graphic history of comic books. Characters and styles of old comics are used in places, but not original graphics.

A detailed history, this book covers the twists and turns of fickle taste. Superheros are in and out and in again. Gore is in and then out. Romance ebbs and wanes. Teen subjects peak and fall. All the while there is conflict and competition within the industry, and threats--and, at times, imposition--of censorship from without.

Despite its graphical nature there is a lot of text, and information, in this book. While an easy read, it is not a quick read. For those interested in comic books this is an excellent, medium length, history. Readers without an interest in comic books will soon drift away.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Erik S. Burnham on August 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Let me explain my headline, there.

I give four stars to Mssrs. Van Lente and Dunlavey for the undertaking of this Herculean task; they touch on the industry from the Yellow Kid right on down to digital piracy, and I cannot stress enough how much "story" that is to whittle down to a couple hundred pages. (I've got the shakes just thinking about it.) The fifth star is for their focus on the task (keeping it all big picture.) I can't imagine how tempting it would have been to throw more tidbits in that are neat, but didn't fit into the narrative they were going for, or just wind off into a never-ending labyrinth of anecdotal tangents.

Shucks, I can think of several avenues that would have been cool to see them explore, but not doing so doesn't detract from the final product in the least. In fact, CBHoC works because of the decisions they made in presenting this block of information. Did they leave out some juicy stuff? Sure. But in return, they covered so much ground, and will almost certainly teach you something about this industry (or the people who work in it) that you did not know...

...And it does it in an entirely engaging way. Prose and illustration both are crisp and uncluttered... a great way to deliver a history lesson painlessly, and not the first time these guys have done so (I really need to catch up on this team's Action Philosophers!)

It'll catch you up on a lot of inside baseball, kids. Give it a read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How could this combination not be a natural? Fred Van Lente's Comic Book History of Comics not only looks over a history of a medium that is at once taken for granted and denigrated by snooty idiots but truly appreciated by those with a discerning eye, it is a pleasure to read (and examine, because it's a visual thing, after all) and educational as well. What's not to love?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A thick but approachable book, this book tells the history of comics, starting from political cartoons and "funnies," through their evolution into collections of funnies, and finally comic books. With a deft hand, the illustrations and even lettering evoke the material of each period, while maintaining a coherent metastyle across the production. Of particular note is the even hand with which the near constant efforts of censorship against comics have been portrayed. As much as this is an excellent introduction for anyone to comics, it is a must-read for any fan of the medium who wants to speak intelligently when defending it. Just fantastic.
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By DG on July 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book about the history of comics that had me laughing out loud on numerous occasions. It is surprisingly self-aware and easy-to-read. It is full of historical fact and appears rather dense upon first glance, but the narrative style and humor make it hard to put down. The history begins around 1900 and is mostly heavily focused upon what is traditionally considered the Golden and Silver Ages of American comics (approximately 1930s until early 1970s.) Understandably, its hard to write a history focused on the near present. However, I wish there was additional material covering the 80s and 90s. (Hopefully a future edition.) To be clear, this is not a book about superhero comics. Of course, its hard to talk about American comics without discussing superheroes, but the book just a great job of covering all of the other important genres including EC horror and the underground movement of the 70s.

My only real complaint, and its a minor one, is that the book has no pretenses to objectivity when it comes to some of the creator disputes involving Siegel and Shuster, McFarlane, etc. The authors even refer to Kirby as "our hero."
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