With more and more graphic novels on shelves and tablets of comics readers worldwide, there's also been a boom in books about comics—from examining their history to showing how to make them. So far, 2014 has been an outstanding year for nonfiction books about comics. Here are some new and upcoming books that should have a place on the shelf of every serious comics enthusiast.
Make Comics Like The Pros
Greg Pak and Fred van Lente. Watson Guptill, Sept. 2014
A soup-to-nuts guide to making comics, from the ins and outs of collaboration to using social media to promote yourself. Two veteran creators give sensible, frank advice on all the ins and outs of today’s comics world. A must for every would-be comics makers library—and probably for every working pro as a brush up.
Paul Gravett. Yale, 2014
Gravett is perhaps the most knowledgeable and congenial of comics scholars, and in this overview of comics he covers the last 50 years of international comics history and artistic development with the sure-footed understanding of a graphic Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Gravett covers both form—the panel experiments of Chris Ware and web comics experiments of Jason Shiga—and content—the autobiographical comics of Lynda Barry and storytelling of David Mazzuchelli. While it’s but an introduction to the many contemporary facets of graphic storytelling, it’s a very welcoming one.
Comics: A Global History 1968 to the Present
Dan Mazur and Alexander Danner. Thames & Hudson, 2014
For a much more in-depth guide you'll want this thick tome. The authors, who both teach comics, lay out a comprehensive history of the formative years of art comics, tracing simultaneous developments in the three traditions; American, European and Japanese. This is a more comprehensive, in-depth look at the history traced by Gravett above, and an impressive reference book that is a must in every comics library.
Outside the Box
Hilary Chute. University of Chicago Press, 2014
Professor Chute (Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics) continues to lay a foundation for modern comics scholarship with collection of interviews with 12 of the most esteemed contemporary cartoonists—from Scott McCloud to Lynda Barry to Art Spiegelman. It’s a handy guide to the creators behind the graphic novel revolution.
How About Never? Is Never Good For You?
Bob Mankoff. Henry Holt, 2014
The New Yorker’s long time cartoon editor takes us one a journey through the mysteries of humor, with backstage stories of The New Yorker and its legendary cartoonists, as well as insights into what makes humor funny. While you may disagree, you may also finally begin to understand just what makes a New York cartoon tick. A memoir, a history book and a how-to, this is one of the the most entertaining books of the season.
Words for Pictures
Brian Michael Bendis. Watson Guptill, July 2014
Acclaimed bestselling comics writer Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man, Alias) has been the main architect of Marvel’s universe for a decade, and he gives a step-by-step break down to the art of writing comics, with script styles, art tips, and interviews with his fellow scripters such as Ed Brubaker and roundtables with artists and editors. Only a few guides to comics writing have been produced and this will quickly leap to the top of the list.
The Origins of Comics
Thierry Smolderen. University of Mississippi, 2014
French comics scholar Smolderen goes back to the engravings of William Hogarth, Doré and George Cruikshank to the graphic novels of Rodolphe Töpffer to investigate the late 19th century technological advances of printing and photography that created the visual environment for comics to become a mainstay of the newspaper. While mostly of much interest to hardcore comics scholars, the development of visual storytelling he traces has much to say about the current use of comics.
Ed Vs. Yummy Fur
Brian Evenson. Uncivilized, 2014
From the macro to the micro. In this monograph Evenson traces the many versions of Chester Brown’s early work, Yummy Fur, which begins with a clown who can’t stop going to the toilet and ends with Ronald Reagan’s head sutured to the end of the clown’s penis. Over the years, Brown has kept changing the format and even panel arrangement of the work. It’s a fascinating look into one cartoonists restless creative process.