|1. The art of the comic book: an aesthetic
history. Robert C. Harvey. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi,
1996. 288 p.
Rare in that it treats comics as a viable and important artistic medium, equal to film no less, this book provides not only excellent biographical information on innovators in the field, but also analysis of the aesthetic contexts of their work.2. Batman unmasked: analyzing a cultural icon. Will Brooker. New York: Continuum, 2000. 332 pp.
Is this the state of comics scholarship in the year 2000? The answer is a resounding yes! Brooker has reconciled his dual nature as an academic and a Batman fan to produce some excellent thought and research that balances nicely between cultural studies and genuine interest in the topic.3. Comic book culture: fanboys and true believers. Matthew Pustz. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999. 244 p.
An ambitious study of the comic book fan subculture circa the mid 1990's, Matthew Pustz has authored a work that is as much an anthropological study as it is an honest portrait of the faces behind fandom. Recommended for beginning sociological understanding the comics audience.4. The comic book in America: an illustrated history. Mike Benton. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1989. 207 pp.
Comic books are primarily a visual medium, and this sumptuously illustrated book revels in the high points of the fromat. Covering every conceivable genre of comic book from 1900 to 1990, this full-color tome is essential if you really want to immerse yourself in the art and experience it.5. Comics librarianship: a handbook. Randall W. Scott. Forewords by Sanford Berman and Catherine Yronwode. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland 1990. 188 p.
An excellent starting point for both laypeople and library professionals in understanding the techniques and philosophies of a comics librarian. This volume also includes subject headings and a handy contact list of institutions currently involved in comics research.6. Dangerous drawings: interviews with comix and graphix artists. Edited by Andrea Juno. New York: Juno Books, 1997. 213 pp.
Andrea Juno conducts long-form interviews with a grab bag of fourteen outstanding comix luminaries, from Dan Clowes to Julie Doucet. Juno did her homework here, and the interviews are thorough and entertaining. Also included are photos and plenty of samples from each artist.7. Graphic novels: a bibliographic guide to book-length comics. D. Aviva Rothschild. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1995. 245 pp.
Intended for librarians, this is an broad overview of all facets of the graphic novel universe. It's structured as a handy bibliography, organized into broad genres. The only criticism is that the author's condescending stance towards most mainstream superhero titles comes off almost like grandstanding.8. Krazy Kat : the comic art of George Herriman. Edited by Patrick McDonnell. New York: H.N. Adams, 1986. 283 p.
Not research, per se, but Herriman's Krazy Kat should be mandatory reading for any serious students of the comics medium. Excellent reproductions of Krazy Kat newspaper strips with beautiful color, this book is a wonderful display of how Herriman fused surrealism, jazz, plain old slapstick, and flying bricks to create a truly original body of work.9. Seal of approval: the history of the comics code. Amy Kiste Nyberg. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998. 208 p.
A surprisingly evenhanded and objective historical overview of what was arguably the biggest shaping factor in 20th Century American comics. From the Wertham Senate testimony to comic book burnings, from William Gaines to the quiet content rebellion of the 1970's - this one has it all.10. Super heroes: a modern mythology. Richard Reynolds. Jackson, MI: Jackson University Press, 1992. 124 pp.
Reynolds attempts, with varying degrees of success, to recast the superhero milieu as the closest equivalent we have to mythology of old. There is some impressive analysis of recurrent symbols and themes that run through all hero comics.11. Understanding comics. Scott McCloud. Northampton, MA: Kitchen Sink Press, 1993. 216 pp.
Probably one of the more ambitious works about comics, Scott McCloud has created a comic book about comic books. Delving into issues of symbol, artistic technique and storytelling nuances, McCloud posits that the comic format is perfect for communicating points where mere text would come up lacking.
|1. "About face: comic books in library
literature" Allen Ellis and Doug Highsmith. Serials review. V. 26,
no. 2 (2000), pp. 21-44.
This article covers the early history and steady rise of independent comics and publishers. Reviews their place in the comics marketplace, the dynamics of self and small-scale publication, and characteristics of the art form. Concludes with an overview of sixteen different independent publishers.2. "Cartoon surrealism: an interview with Robert Williams." Carlos McCormick. Grand review. V. 13 (Spring 1995) pp. 47-57.
Robert Williams expounds on a wide range of topics, including his own art, the rise of the underground comix movement of the 1960's and the interplay between music and comics.3. "Collecting Comic Books" Thomas Inge. American Book Collector. V. 5, no. 2 (March 1982) pp. 3-15.
Thomas Inge weighs in with a look at the then-quiet field of comic book collecting, before the "boom" precipitated by the popular Batman films. Enjoyable in terms of the historical context, Inge's scholarly knowledge, and the seismic shifts to come.4. "Comic art: characteristics and potentialities of a narrative medium." Lawrence Abbot. Journal of popular culture. V. 19 (Spring 1986) pp. 155-176.
Abbot theorizes about the potential for the comic book format to reach the heights and subtleties of great literature and art - as an example of beginning movements in this direction, he analyzes the work of Steve Ditko in Spider Man number 4.5. "Comic book fandom and cultural capital." Jeffrey Brown. Journal of popular culture. V. 30 (Spring 1997) pp. 13-31.
A discussion of the cultural implications of fandom, with comic book fan culture chosen as its most enthusiastic manifestation. Brown examines the comic book fan community as a complex subculture with its own set of rules and valuations based on "mass-mediated" comic texts.6. "Comic books." Thomas Inge. Handbook of american popular literature. Thomas Inge (ed.). Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1988. pp. 75-99.
Noted comics scholar M. Thomas Inge provides an overview of the history of the comics medium, as well as a valuable beginning literature review for comics enthusiast. He includes historical, biographical, critical and anthology works while discussing present and future trends of the form.7. "Comic books and women readers: trespassers in masculine territory?" Amy Nyberg. Gender in popular culture: images of men and women in visual media and material culture. Susan Collins. Cleveland, OH: Ridgemont, 1995. pp. 205-226.
Nyberg, herself a comics enthusiast, ponders the "intrusion" of women into the traditionally male fanboy realm of comic books, their treatment as fans, and whether this is really trespassing after all.8. "Idea and motive in Jack 'King' Kirby's comic books: a conversation." Ronald Lanyi. Journal of popular culture. V. 17, no. 2 (Fall 1983) pp. 22-30.
An entertaining, if not somewhat surreal, interview with comics pioneer Jack Kirby turns into an attempt to over-intellectualize Kirby-as-writer. Half of the fun is reading Kirby's bemused reactions. Lanyi's long idylls and expositions on the work of Kirby are definitely jarring, when he should have just let the man talk!9. "Magazines and journals about comic books." Michael Lavin. Serials review. V. 25, no. 1 (1999), pp. 83-95.
Excellent overview of current source material. Lavin reviews thirteen currently circulating periodicals about comic books, including an overview of alternative comics and even a brief introduction to some of the online journals. Recommendations based on library type are included.
|1. Caroline and Erwin Swann Collection of Caricature
and Cartoon (Library of Congress)|
On permanent display in the Library of Congress, the Swann Collection is over 2,000 pieces strong and covers a wide array of comics-related material from 1780-1977. This page allows some digital access to the Collection, as well as a helpful list of other cartoon and comic research links. In this developing field of librarianship, it is necessary to have models for setting up your comics collection for both remote and local access.2. Comic Art Collection Home Page - Michigan State Libraries
Randall Scott is acknowledged as a pioneer and the authority in the field of comics librarianship and MSU is where he hangs his hat. This page includes scans from the collection, an index to the 100,000+ titles, and a helpful directory of other libraries with similar collections. I'd consider this a great starting point and template for other libraries starting up a comics collection.3. Comic Books: A Research Guide - The New York Public Library
The good people at NYPL have constructed a research guide for those interested in comics research, some brief historical notes on the genre, and links to other online sources and libraries.4. Popular Culture Library - Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green University houses a collection of over 35,000 comic books at its Popular Culture Library, though they do not offer much in the way of online access to the collection. However they have a very informative collection development policy statement and some valuable contact information. Another fine peer site.
|1. Comic Book Legal Defense
From their mission statement: "The CBLDF exists to fight censorship and defend the first amendment rights of comic book professionals throughout the United States. Between 1995-2000, the CBLDF has raised over $200,000 to pay expenses related to defending freedom of speech and expression, and the battle continues."2. Popular Culture Association - Comic Art And Comics
Comic Books Invade Mainstream Academia! Yes it's true, they even have conferences just to discuss this sort of thing. Hopeful news. Links to conference info and other comics scholars.3. Comicon.Com - The World's Biggest Comic Book Convention
The online equivalent of a comic book convention, a rather large one in fact. Hosts virtual "booths" with exhibitors from all parts of the comics, world, a constantly-updated newsboard (Newsarama), retailers and links galore. A great starting point for exploring the professional side of the genre.
|1. DC Comics|
Home to Batman, Superman, Wonderman, and many other long-running favorites, as well as small-circulation lines of more innovative fare, DC has been running since the 1930's. This web site is a good starting point for librarians and other interested parties to keep track of the new releases and upcoming projects coming from this company.2. Marvel Comics
Home to Spider Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Fantastic Four and more. Despite recent financial woes and charges of creative bankruptcy, Marvel Comics keeps a steady stream of new product out on the market. Official company sites like these are important for the enterprising librarian to keep track of trends and product in the market.3. The Comics Journal
Comics from an arts-first perspective. For twenty-five years the Comics Journal has provided thought-provoking critical commentary on all aspects of the comics business and art form. The Journal deals in a more academic and caustic tone that may anger you, could surprise you, but will definitely affect the way that you think about comic books.
Boasting over 10,000 entries and resources, this one is arguably the best of the best as far as online research purposes go. The site editors claim this to be "an international bibliography of comic books, comic strips, animation, caricature, cartoons, bandes dessinees, and related topics." A great free resource for a library to use.2. Comic Book Resources
A loosely defined clearinghouse for comics' websites, links, columns, news, message boards and anything in between. There's a nice search engine feature and the whole site is well-designed and fun to use.3. Grand Comics Database
An all-volunteer online effort to catalog every single comic book ever published in a simple text-based format. Easy to search and use, and you've got to see the Advanced Search Option page to believe it. Again, the fact that resources like this exist, open to all, speak very well for the future of online comics research as a collaborative effort.4. Marvel Chronology Project
This is an online project devoted to listing every character in the Marvel Universe and every single appearance they ever made. Exhaustive and incredible. Contributions welcome, and a comparable DC project is in the works.5. The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe
Billed as an internet encyclopedia of the DC Universe, this impressive volunteer project contains comic character profiles, DC timeline histories, and impressive character and title indexes covering most of the DC continuity. Nice design too.
|1. Bring On The Bad Guys: The Villains Of Marvel
The definitive resource of comic book villainy, with bios and images of pretty near every major villain in the Marvel Universe, thoughtfully broken up into categories like "Daredevil Villains" or "Megalomaniac Types. This site is a fun example of some of the unofficial comics history that is going on in the online fan community. For free!2. Krazy Kat: The Coconino County Home Page
A site dedicated to visionary cartoonist George Herriman and his most enduring creations, Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse. Hosts a full history and loads of trivia, a biography of Herriman, a bibliography of Kat-related texts, and of course much Herriman art and flying bricks.3. The Marvel Family Web
A fun and splashy site dedicated to the legendary Captain Marvel (Shazam!) and his Marvel Family. Worth inclusion because it gets more mileage out of the relatively inactive Captain Marvel franchise than you'd ever expect. Lots of valuable resource material. Did you know that there is a Shazam ride at Six Flags?4. The Periodic Table of Comic Books
Hands down one of the more creative applications of comic book characters to a real world/science setting that I have ever seen. Go ahead, click on an element.
|1. Comics Scholars' Discussion
This page is the home base for the discussion list, a place to "debate theoretical and historical issues, post course syllabi and assignments; call attention to potentially useful scholarship and other resources, and call for submissions for books, journals, and conferences. COMIXSCHL-LIST is also a place to discuss job searches, pedagogy, library acquisitions, conferences, financial resources, and other institutional factors that affect comics scholarship." A good source for research-related links.
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