Comic Book History of Comics


“In this dazzling overview of comic book history, the only thing that impresses as much as the palatable feeling of love for comics by Van Lente and Dunlavey is the painstaking research clearly put into this well-organized, insightful and brilliantly illustrated comic book collection.” – CBR


Written by Fred Van Lente. Art by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey.

From the team that brought you the award winning Action Philosophers, Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey comes the history of comics—in comic book form!

Since before the written word, stories have been told through images. From the cave drawings discovered in Cantabria, Spain; to the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt; to the story scrolls of Chinese dynasties. But it wasn’t until broadsides (one-sided newspapers of the 16th century) that drawn pictures became mass-produced. Back then, they were called “action pictures” to show off gory details such as beheadings. Later in the 19th century, action pictures evolved to editorial cartoons of Thomas Nast, which eventually paved wave for the first modern comic strip in 1896—The Yellow Kid by Richard F. Outcault.

The Yellow Kid became a cultural phenomenon and soon, major newspaper syndicates were desperate to acquire any and all comics to boost their sales. With the high demand, a cheaper printing process was created to print pulp magazines, which became the dominant form of mass genre prose fiction in America. This inexpensive process allowed publishers to slash prices and produce a staggering amount of titles. And through this, the idea of comics being an expanded form outside the newspaper began to emerge.

From here, the history book focuses on two heroes of the Golden Age of comics: Jerry Siegel and Jack Kurtzberg. Siegel achieved fame first by creating the first true superhero comic, Superman. The comic blew up, taking everyone in the publishing industry by surprise. Superman became the ideal, the product to imitate. And soon, every major syndicate wanted their own superhero.

Enter Jack Kurtzberg. At first, this insanely fast artist was hired to create a clearly plagiarized version of Superman. But his immediate superior, Joe Simon, recognized Kurtzberg’s talents were being wasted. When Simon was hired to be head editor of Timely Comics, he brought Kurtzberg with him under the table. To keep his other employer from finding out, Jack drew under the pseudonym Jack Kirby. And it was under Jack Kirby’s name, with Simon and Timely Studios (which would later be known as Marvel) that Captain America came to life.

This history book keeps tabs on Kirby’s career, including his later work with Stan Lee with the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Spider-man, Thor, X-men, Dr. Strange and so much more. But it follows other giants, like Dr. Fredric Wertham with Wonder Woman, Jacki Ormes with Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger, Bill Gaines with Mad Magazine, Trina Robbins with Wimmen’s Comix, Robert Crumb with Zap Comics, and many, many more.

From the golden age to modern age, from major syndicates to underground publishers, and from violence to family values, the Comic Book History of Comics the entire insane story will love and humor.