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Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America Paperback – September 18, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Painstakingly researched, "Comic Book Nation" is really three books in one. Wright provides both plot outlines and summaries of trends in subject matter, from the launch of Superman to the sinister underworld of the Watchmen. He also places those themes and developments in the larger cultural context, from Depression-era longings and liberalism, through the patriotism induced by World War II and the Cold War, to the anti-crime vigilantism of the Reagan era. Finally, he charts the multiple peaks and valleys experienced by the business itself: its unpredictable sales patterns, the unhappiness of its work force, the rise and fall of the largest publishers, and the takeover of the industry by corporate and licensing interests. Along the way, he examines the 1940s and 1950s backlash against the violent and sexual nature of comic books (which resulted in the Comics Code Authority, an agency of censorship unparalleled in its broad sweep and its power); the heyday of EC Comics, purveyor of classics ranging from "Tales from the Crypt" to "Mad Magazine"; and the brilliant, original creation of "Spider-Man" and the succeeding generation of reluctant, misunderstood heroes.Read more ›
Wright clearly establishes that the comics were/are very much part of the cultural milieu from which they emerge and he parallels the various shifts in narrative and focus to what was happening in American society at that specific time. I believe he is less successful in establishing the material represented by his sub-title: how youth culture is transformed by the comics rather than how youth culture is reflected by the comics (I came away with more of the reflection aspect after reading this book).
The book does not address the "Image-era" of comics; that is, when the youth of America became swayed by badly written, poorly drawn, highly and gratuitiously violent comics of little substance. Here, I think, is an additional chapter in which the symbiotic (and not always positive) relationship between pop-culture and society should have been addressed... especially since the Image books were a direct, if unexpected, outgrowth of the ultra-violence and star-making power of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns which Wright does discuss in some depth. The Vertigo line of books also gets short shrift... perhaps because the audience for these is older?
Still and all, as Wright himself states, there are woefully FEW "serious" or "academic" texts about comics. No true fan, especially the perennial fans like myself who outgrow the intended audience of the comics but refuse to let go, should be without this text. Well done.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An overview of the cultural impact of comic books, from 1930s superheroes to the present. FascinatingPublished 20 months ago by A Reader
Looks brand new! Got this book for my american studies class and so far, i like it! Inexpensive too. Worth itPublished on November 9, 2013 by Taryn
Perfect for getting your history and comic book geek on. Helped to merge both interests and was written by a Boilermaker so even better. :)Published on September 17, 2013 by echitty
Everything you ever wanted to know about the history of comics is in this book. Written in an interesting and comprehensive style. Highly recommended.Published on March 15, 2013 by Jack Fisher
Love comics? Want to cry at how creative people in the industry are treated? This and others are perfect for you to learn, cry, and hate those in power!Published on January 8, 2013 by Amber Greenlee
I used this book for my bachelors thesis. It is one of the best broad looks at the history of American comic books I have read. Read morePublished on November 5, 2012 by FlyingNematoad
I thoroughly enjoyed this professional look at the history of comic books, and how they shaped our society. Read morePublished on August 23, 2011 by Virginia E. Johnson
Any dedicated comic book fan could assemble a list of things that need to be included in a history of the comic book, and Wright surely hits almost every one in this comprehensive... Read morePublished on March 16, 2011 by Chris Ward
When i read this, I was surprised by how much clutter that had been taken out, how many dime-pieces he decided to leave in the dictionary, and how much research he decided to do to... Read morePublished on August 11, 2010 by ThatUmbrellaGuy