Review: Comic Books 101: The History, Methods, and Madness

Review: Comic Books 101

Comic Books 101: The History, Methods and Madness

Have you ever put down one of your comics and thought about the medium and how it has developed since its meager little start in the earlier parts of the 20th Century? I do fairly often—and as a guy who collects industry materials—“How to…” stuff, technical books, reference books, sourced materials—I have always wanted someone in the industry to produce a book that adequately looked at the breadth of itself; I’ve wanted a resource that I could lend to my friends who weren’t so familiar with comics…you know, so I could convert them into one of us.

Impact Book’s Comic Books 101: The History, Methods, and Madness, written by creators Scott Tipton and Chris Ryall (who's also the Editor in Chief at IDW Publishing), is the book I’ve been waiting for. It’s an earnest look at the evolution of the medium; it dissects the monthly pamphlet; and it explores the lineage of larger companies like Marvel and DC Comics and recognizes smaller companies like Top Shelf and Oni with objective clarity. It is slick and easy to read—it is a perfect resource for the hardcore fan, the curious dabbler, or the abject non-believer who we all seek to convert to the cause.

the colors of Kryptonite

Starting with a rousing introduction by Stan Lee, the book breaks into seven parts: including a history of the medium to present which includes a macroscopic look at some of the more noteworthy comic book publishers and their best-selling titles/characters; a full dissection of a comic book—including a look at the roles of the creators involved in making a project and the function of their job; as well as a look at some of the more noteworthy creators in the industry and the recent success that comics have garnered in Hollywood.

I really liked the design of the book—Impact Books has a great format for their projects including books like Writing for Comics & Graphic Novels with Peter David and The Insider’s Guide to Creating Comics and Graphic Novels. The pages were comprehensible and the book is packed with a number of beautiful full-color pictures from various publishers throughout the history of the industry. I also liked the engaging nature of Ryall and Tipton’s personal commentaries which are sprinkled throughout the material as asides.

honoring the creators

Again, the ease of use of this resource is by and large the best quality of the book. It is segmented in a way that is almost too easy to access; I found myself wishing that this book was around when I was “that guy” who wrote his senior thesis on comic books for his Bachelors degree. The book provides a wealth of information that performs a proper balancing act of enlightenment; it does not burden the reader with overwrought complexity and it entertains with the jocularity of two average guys who love comic books. I came away from the experience with a feeling that I had been properly schooled—and not patronized.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of the medium or you’re interested in the internal workings of comics—then Comic Books 101: The History, Methods, and Madness will be an invaluable 288 page resource to keep in your possession. Head down to your local bookstore on June 5th when the book hits shelves.

Interested? Here’s’s listing and the ISBN code for the book is: ISBN-10: 1600611877.

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