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Comic Books 101: The History, Methods and Madness Paperback – June 5, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chris Ryall is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of IDW, a San Diego-based comic-book publisher. He's written dozens of comics and was nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Short Story in 2006. He writes a weekly column for and is the former Editor-in-Chief and Chief Content Provider/Webmaster for filmmaker Kevin Smith's pop culture site,

Scott Tipton, founder and Editor-in-Chief of, writes the weekly column of the same name, the most highly trafficked. He has written for, and has written stories for #2 and #3 of Doomed, and is author of the graphic novels Spike: Old Wounds, Spike: Lost And Found, and Angel Spotlight: Wesley.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: IMPACT (June 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600611877
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600611872
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 7.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm the Chief Creative Officer and Editor-in-Chief of IDW Publishing, a San Diego-based comic book and graphic novel publisher. I've been in this role for over half the company's existence, since July 2004. In that time, been involved in the acquisition of such brands as TRANSFORMERS, G.I. JOE, STAR TREK, and many other major licenses. In my time at IDW, the company has grown to become the fourth-largest publisher in the United States.

I'm also an Eagle- and Eisner Award-nominated editor and comic book writer, having written nearly four dozen comic books. These comics include:

- SHAUN OF THE DEAD (4 issues, released as a TPB and hardcover)
- MASTERS OF HORROR (2 issues, released as a TPB)
- GEORGE A. ROMERO'S LAND OF THE DEAD (5 issues, released as a TPB)
- CLIVE BARKER'S THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOW (12 issues, released as a TPB and a hardcover)
- DOOMED (adaptations of stories from Robert Bloch, Rochard Matheson, and David J. Schow, including the Eisner-nominated "Best Short Story" from 2005, "Blood Son." Released as COMPLETELY DOOMED TPB and as DOOMED PRESENTS: ASHLEY WOOD)
- BEOWULF (4 issues, released as a TPB)
- TRANSFORMERS MOVIE PREQUEL (4 issues, co-written with Simon Furman; released as a TPB and as THE COMPLETE TRANSFORMERS MOVIE COLLECTION, VOL. 1 HC)
- ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS (co-created with Ashley Wood; released as an oversize HC, THE COMPLETE ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS TPB [now in its 2nd printing] and ZOMNBIUS TPB)
- D'AIRAIN AVENTURE (2 issues, with "Zombies vs Robots Prequel" and "Black Magick"; The ZvR stories were collected as part of THE COMPLETE ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS TPB)
- "The Adventures of Booby-Watcher," a web-only tie-in to the movie ROLE MODELS; not collected)
- IDW: THE 10-YEAR HISTORY (an oral history of the company, co-written with Ted Adams and Kris Oprisko)
- GROOM LAKE (co-created with Ben Templesmith; 4 issues and a TPB)
- WEEKLY WORLD NEWS (4 issues and a TPB)
- ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS AVENTURE (4 issues and an oversize HC)
- Frank Frazetta's Neanderthal (one-shot for Image comics; collected in The Fantastic Worlds of Frank Frazetta, Vol. 2 HC)
- ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS: UNDERCITY with artist Mark Torres (4 issues starting in April 2011)

- SUPERHEROES AND PHILOSOPHY (contributed a chapter, "The Fantastic Four as Family," co-written with Scott Tipton.
- COMIC BOOKS 101 (co-written with Scott Tipton; available as both a paperback and on the Kindle.)
- CLASSICS MUTILATED; I contributed "Twilight of the Gods," a mash-up of Twilight and Norse mythology, to this collection of "monster-lit" prose. Available as a prose book and on the Kindle.

Prior to all of this, I served as Editor-in-Chief for filmmaker Kevin Smith's entertainment Web portal for four years; was a corporate speechwriter for American Honda; a creative executive with Dick Clark Communications; and an advertising copywriter. In 2010, I wrote the text for Oakley's "Legion of Oakley" advertising comic book campaign and Web site.

I'm based in San Diego, where I live with my wife Julie, daughter Lucy, a cat, Pablo, and my adopted second child, who I call MacBook Pro.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Timothy P. Young on June 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Scott Tipton and Chris Ryall, two fans who ended up working in the industry (like so many other comic writers and artists) have teamed up to bring us the non-definitive work on one of America's great contributions to world culture, the comic book.

Intended more as a primer than anything else, Comic Books 101 takes us through an overview of the history of the industry, walks us through the typical artistic comic book production process, and gives us a solid, if occasionally too brief, background on the major characters, authors, and players of the past 60 years. Yes, there are Marvel and DC, Spiderman, Iron Man, Superman and Batman, the JLA and the Avengers, Jack Kirby, George Perez, Alan Moore, and a whole bunch of other historical bits.

Tipton and Ryall tend to keep things light and not overly pedantic, not being afraid to share opinions and personal recollections via sidebars or in-text mentions (when discussing the state of DC's hero Green Lantern, they end the chapter by stating things are "in our humble it should be."). This chattiness is both the weakness and the strength of the book. On one hand, the personal nature of the essays detracts from a more objective overview of certain subjects and might put off the hardcore fan wanting to know more about the Blackhawks or Nick Fury.* On the other hand, the writing style is perfect for engaging the casual fan or the true neophyte. Throughout Comics 101, the overall tone lets the reader know that these are two guys who truly love comics, and want to share that love with the rest of the world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Two readers on June 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a good book. On the way from the mailbox, I flipped through it and found a whole bunch of "No kidding, I didn't know that" factoids, and I have been reading comics for 35 years now. Written by fans, but in no means fannish, this is a book that the old jaded collector and the non comic reader will enjoy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
I bought a copy of this book for a teenage friend who is becoming a VERY good comic artist. I figured it would help her to have a definitive history of the field. I read through most of the book before wrapping it (one benefit of giving books as gifts--nobody knows you sampled the goods!) and truthfully, I sort of wish I wasn't giving the book away. Not because it isn't good, but because it is SO good.

I'm not a big comics fan. I like them, but I don't get excited about 'em. However, this book is just loads of fun even for someone who reads comic strips in a casual way. I really enjoyed the history of the Superman comic, such as learning how his parents' first names changed over time, or his gradual acquisition of various superpowers. I never followed Wonder Woman (sorry, fans!), so I liked the overview of her backstory. I chuckled at the bio of Stan Lee and what he accomplished. And I loved looking at all the photos of comic book covers, especially since I remember how much trouble my brother got for owning some of these in the 50s. ("They'll rot your brain!" my parents declared.)

As a result, I'm likely to buy another copy of this book to give as a holiday gift. Maybe a few.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The original creators of Superman got ripped off and were never paid much. Stan Lee is not the real name of Spidey's creator. Wonder Woman originally rescued an injured US. Army Airman and returned him to Walter Read hospital in her invisible plane. Scott Tipton and Chris Ryall share these and myriad other comic book facts in "Comic Books 101."

I enjoyed reading "Comic Books 101." If you are the superhero fan type (I actually am not) you will LOVE this book. The authors have compiled myriad facts and history about even the most minor of superheroes. Their history of the early beginnings of the comic book industry in the U.S. is especially interesting.

Their superhero focus forces them to give short shrift to modern comics such as "Fables" and they give only a brief summary of Manga. I would have loved more pictures, but these must be hard to get permission to use. The pictures of classic comics they do include are amazing exhibits of key points in comic book history.

If you're already a comic book junkie, you'll enjoy this book to fill in any small gaps in your knowledge. If you're relatively new to the comic scene, or rekindling your interest as an adult, you will also enjoy this volume.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joe L on May 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've been a fan of the Comics101 website for a long time. Been a comic fan even longer, going back to the early 70's when I was just learning to read. Scott and Chris are my people. When it comes to a comic book trivia throw down, unless your name is Mark Waid, I think I have a chance. Got Comics101 the book in the mail yesterday and read through it last night. Great book. They did recycle some of the old posts, but expanded them with new info and more history. Learned some stuff I didn't know. Good looking book, lots of classic panels and covers, plus some original art. Touched on some of the more contentious issues in Comic Book history without taking sides. If you love comics, you should take a look.
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