Meanwhile in Comic Book History…

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If you consider yourself a comic book fan and someone asks you “Marvel or DC?” you probably have an answer. If you’re a real inside baseball die hard you probably have a severely complicated answer with a lot of exceptions, some addendum’s and a few downright strong opinions. Alternately, you could be a comic reader that just balks at the idea of mainstream comics and their extended corporate crossover, multiverse, Bat-Family, Secret Wars having, Spider-Verse loving product. So it’s possible your answer to “Marvel or DC?” might just be a polite but firm “No thanks, I’m good.” Well, the following comic book histories should have you covered either way, from a history that delves into the ultimate comic book version of Coke vs. Pepsi with a warts and (tell) all history of Marvel vs. DC to a dramatically less cape and cowl excavation that is more Ghost World than X-Men. Offering chapter titles that get right to the point such as “Why Superheroes?”, “Why Sex?”, “Why Punk?”, “Why War?” and “Why Queer?”. And finally, as a little bit of a curveball and real historical first of its kind, I’m going to recommend an entire book that’s dedicated to deconstructing a single three panel Nancy strip from 1959!

Slugfest: Inside the Epic Fifty-Year Battle between Marvel and DC

Slugfest, the first book to chronicle the history of this epic rivalry into a single, in-depth narrative, is the story of the greatest corporate rivalry never told. Complete with interviews with the major names in the industry, Slugfest reveals the arsenal of schemes the two companies have employed in their attempts to outmaneuver the competition, whether it be stealing ideas, poaching employees, planting spies, or launching price wars. The feud has never completely disappeared, and it simmers on a low boil to this day. With DC and Marvel characters becoming global icons worth billions, if anything, the stakes are higher now than ever before.

Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere

In Why Comics?, comics scholar Hillary Chute reveals the history of comics, underground comics and graphic novels, through deep thematic analysis, and fascinating portraits of the fearless men and women behind them. As Scott McCloud revealed the methods behind comics and the way they worked in his classic Understanding Comics, Chute will reveal the themes that Comics handle best, and how the form is uniquely equipped to explore them. Please note that this book examines in both illustrations and prose some of underground comic’s more explicit underbelly and also has graphic depictions of war and its associated violence and therefore may not be appropriate for all readers.

How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels

After How to Read Nancy, you’ll never read a comic strip the same way again! Everything that you will ever need to know about reading, making or understanding comics can be found in the three panels of a single comic strip published on August 8, 1959: Nancy, by Ernie Bushmiller. Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden expand their 1988 cult-classic essay, “How to Read Nancy” into a book-length deconstruction that gets down to the practical and nuanced concerns of comics language with a minimal amount of hyperbole and a maximum amount of entertainment.