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COMIC BOOKS
BOOKS and MAGAZINES

Comic books have been the subject of many books and magazines throughout their history focusing on all aspects of the industry.

These are not publications that reprint past comic book issues or new issues, but rather are books and magazines that provide comprehensive information on the creation of comic books, comic book characters and their worlds, its creators (artists, writers, editors and publishers), how to books, historical information and perspective, photo-journalistic details and the comic industry in general.

The material found in this medium are a collectible item themselves and anyone interested in comic books will want to add some of these to their collections.

Some of the books can be found locally at your comic book store or at national book stores.  Most can be found on the internet.

I have provided a small write-up below on some of the books and magazines.  There are so many other books around and ones that are out of print that would be impossible for me to detail, but with links to some of those on this page you can easily go to their listings and read further. 

There are a number of books which have been published that cover movies and television shows that have been made based on comic book characters over the last few decades.  They feature great photography, interviews with the cast and crew and how the movies are made.  There were also ones that were produced for kids that had photos not seen in other publications which make them a great collector's item and ones that are hard to find. 

All one has to do is review my Movies or Television Shows pages for the titles and you can probably do a lookup to find some of these fantastic books online.

Books

The most important book that all comic book enthusiasts will want to acquire is the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.  It is published on a yearly basis and has been consistently published since 1970.  It is the most complete book providing listings on almost every comic ever published up to the printing date.  It is an integral part in comic book collecting with prices and notations of key issues from 1st appearances to origin issues, anniversary issues to important storylines, key artistsí issues to historical events.  The book has a variety of feature articles on various aspects of comic books providing sales data, market reports, character profiles, artist profiles and a whole lot more.

A tremendous collectorís item came out last year called 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking.  The author is long-time fan and former DC editor/publisher Paul Levitz detailing DC Comics' monumental history in a larger than life-size book.  It contains thousands of images featuring DC Comic covers, pages, original illustrations, photographs, film stills and collectibles.  There is a year by year timeline foldout with biographies of the legends who built DC.  It is a little pricey, but there won't be another first diamond jubilee for DC ever again and this book is quite a tribute to the largest comic book publisher in the world.  Any comic book fan is going to want to add this to their collection.

One company has produced a few impressive slipcase books on various comic book related subject matters.  The DC Vault: A Museum-in-a-book with Rare Collectibles from the DC Universe offers collectors some intricate and nostalgic artifacts that has never been made available to the public such as early sketches, covers, memos, press materials.  There are more than 25 plastic-encased archival pieces to pull out and examine.  Collectors will learn about the artists, writers, and superhero characters.  The same company has produced a book on Batman called - The Batman Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the Batcave and a book on Marvel Comics called The Marvel Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the World of Marvel and one for Transformers all using the same style packaging with memorabilia items for one to examine and cherish.

     

If you want to an encyclopedic version on DC characters, the DC Comics Encyclopedia, Updated and Expanded Edition is an incredible book.  It has full color pictures on DC characters with biographical information. 

Hereís an opportunity to get the lowdown on the DC Universeís personalities at your fingertips.  It wonít contain every single character that has ever graced the pages of DC comics which would be impossible, but will have characters that have generally appeared enough times in comics over the years.  Itís a great way to know who's who which is not always fleshed out fully in the comics themselves and in some cases takes several issues to figure out what the characters are all about.

A handy reference book on DC characters called DC Comics Ultimate Character Guide is a nice tool to have around when you need a quick check on your favorite superheroes or super-villainsí profile.  Youíll see images of each character with a very detailed write-up on each containing information on their powers, their weaknesses, their enemies and more.  If you donít need a bible of information to review, this is a nice companion book to have.

The DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle provides a chronological timeline of key events in DC Comicsí history.  There are photos of key issues for every year that DC has been around with detailed descriptions on those issues.  For history buffs this is a fantastic way to see all of the important comics that DC has released for the last 75 years in its rich history.  Youíll see the start of their empire in 1935 with New Fun #1, the biggest comic book event in history from 1938 with the debut of Action Comics #1 containing the first appearance and origin of Superman all the way up to current day.  Every issue that the author recorded as having significance for DC is documented in this book.  I know thumbing through this book will give every collector and historian fond memories and nostalgia.

If you love female comic book characters, DC Comics CoverGirls is a dedicated book to DCs female super-personalities.  It has a wonderful pictorial selection of memorable and key comic book covers featuring the likes of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Catwoman, Batgirl, Power Girl and many, many others.  It is accompanied with historical notes and descriptions on the covers and issues displayed.  A great collectorís item and a great conversation piece.

The Rough Justice: The DC Comics Sketches of Alex Ross contain some of the spectacular sketches from the most prolific comic artist today.  Alex Ross is easily the most in demand cover artist and poster artist in comics.  This book displays incredible images of characters from the DC Universe that Alex has drawn over the years with so many images never seen before in print.  Itís a visual guide with notations next to each sketch and I know that a lot of collectors will want to have this book as part of their collection.

There are millions of fans and collectors of Batman and the Essential Batman Encyclopedia is a book devoted to his world containing detailed information on every character associated with the Batman mythology.  This is not primarily a pictorial book, but there are full color and black and white images contained nevertheless.  Itís a book that is primarily in text format with in-depth write-ups on Batmanís cast of hundreds and other parts of his legend.  You will be hard pressed to find another book that lists so many characters from his universe and be as complete as this book is. 

The same author has also produced similar books for Superman and Wonder Woman.  The Essential Superman Encyclopedia and Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia do what the Batman book does for these two major icons in pop culture.  Youíre going to know Superman and Wonder Woman characters after going through this book more than you knew before and these three books will become great reference materials as you continue to read past and current issues of their titles.

  

DK Publishing has provided a nice selection of ultimate guide books on different DC Superheroes including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League.  JLA: The Ultimate Guide to Justice League of America is a visual book providing a history of the Justice League and recounting of their epic stories as well as informative details on their teamís and team memberís headquarters and origin locations with great original artwork.  Batman: The Ultimate Guide to the Dark Knight, Superman: The Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel and Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Princess give you the same style and coverage for these specific icons.

  

  

The Marvel Encyclopedia is an in-depth book with information on over 1000 different Marvel characters with full artwork, stats and history on each character tying into the characters' stories from some of Marvel's recent cross-over storylines found in Civil War, Annihilation and Secret Invasion.  It's a great reference book for those collectors who want to have biographical information on the Marvel Universe's pantheon of characters.

The Marvel Chronicle provides 70 years worth of chronology on Marvel Comics history.  Youíre going to see a visual guide of key issues for each and every year that Marvel has been around since they debuted in 1939 with Marvel Comics #1 under the founding company - Timely Comics.  History buffs are going to eat this book up seeing what has transpired during Marvelís comic run.  Every issue that the authors recorded as having great significance for Marvel is documented in this book. 

DK Publishing has created some wonderful visual guide books on various Marvel creations.  Avengers: The Ultimate Guide, The Conan: The Ultimate Guide to the Worldís Most Savage Barbarian, The Fantastic Four: Ultimate Guide, Hulk: The Incredible Guide, Iron Man: The Ultimate Guide to the Armored Super Hero, Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide,
X-Men: The Ultimate Guide.  The X-Men book for example contains spreads on the most important characters' origins, their powers, their costumes and their relationships.  There's a sidebar for each character that have appeared in movies with photo stills detailing their movie counterparts with that of their comic book brethren.  The X-Men's vehicles, headquarters and important locations in their stories are featured.  The book covers some of their best stories as well as a making of the X-Men movies with on the set shots.  All of the other Ultimate Guide books get similar treatment.  So if one of these is your favorite Marvel superhero or maybe all of them are, I would recommend picking them up for your collection.

     

     

There was a time back in the 1940s when Captain Marvel (Shazam) was the most popular character in comics - even more popular than Superman.  Shazam! The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal is a photographic book showing a wide-variety of Captain Marvel memorabilia and collectibles from his heyday.  You'll see comic books, posters, statues, movie serial premiums, books, photo stills and more.  No Captain Marvel fan will want to pass on this book.

There have been quite a number of books made based on films that have been produced on comic book characters or theme-related characters over the years.  The plethora of films using Marvel and DC Comics characters for example have had many design and art related books published showing the concept art and production design used in the production of the films.  I've provided some examples of those books below and in the columns on the left and right on this page.

  

For those who aspire to learn how to draw comics there are several books available that will help aspiring artists to learn how to draw and create your own comics.  The now classic book How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way by Marvel artist legend John Buscema provide step by step methods on the basics of drawing a comic book using the Marvel Comics way.  Youíll see how to sketch body definition, body composition and action poses with illustrated examples.  This is a good foundation to help introduce comic book artistry to those wishing to get a solid understanding of concepts, techniques and ideas that will be useful in training for a possible career in comic books.

The DC Comics Guide to Penciling Comics by long-time artist and inker Klaus Janson.  Klaus takes the reader through the fundamentals by showing you how to draw faces, anatomy, clothing, and perspective.  He also offers storytelling, composition, shots and angles and movement.  In addition Klaus offers readers his advice on how a hopeful artist can go about submitting their work to the editor or art director for a potential job or career in the industry.

In the modern age of computers comic book artists have eschewed using a pencil or pen to draw their comics and have turned their focus to using a mouse or electronic graphical pencil on a monitor.  The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics shows users how to utilize current technology to create their own comic art with step by step instructions from basic to advanced levels.  If youíve been resistant to move to computers as your tools of the trade from the traditional methods, this book may be just what you need to get started.

 

Perhaps you want to learn how to write comics.  Denny OíNeil one of the longtime Batman and DC Comics writers authored a book called The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics teaching you his techniques for comic book storytelling.  Denny shows you how to apply them in all formats of comic books like graphic novels, mini-series and maxi-series.  There are illustrated panels from past DC Comics issues with detailed notes to help you understand his ways of writing.

There is a general book that covers a wide-variety of comic books from different companies called Comic Book Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Guide to Characters, Graphic Novels, Writers, and Artists in the Comic Book Universe.  The book has many reproductions of original art.  It has entries on the most influential artists and writers like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and others.  It has quite a bit amount of trivia in its pages and organized by character or book title.  It covers comic books since 1900.  If you want an overall book that has details that you normally don't find in character specific or company specific books, this one might be an option for you.

 

Magazines

There have been different magazines produced that focus on comic books in very much the same context as their book companions.  These were/are produced on a more regular basis and can be found at your local comic book store or via the internet.

Comic Book Marketplace was created and produced by some of the long-time veteran comic collectors as a way to express their appreciation for the Golden Age and Silver Age books that captured their lives and imaginations while they were growing up and ultimately continued in their adult lives.  They also covered the Bronze Age era.  A lot of the contributors have deep relationships with some of the legends in the comic book industry from artists to writers to editors to publishers and everyone in between.

The publication lasted for several years and was produced monthly.  There was a wide-variety of articles where one reading them basically went back in time and got to know how our favorite characters came to be and what they meant to us.  There were a lot of historical information contained in each issue and the magazine had collecting tips in addition to market reports and in general comic book collecting.  Unfortunately the magazine had to cease publication due to the variables that impact any business that have to call it quits eventually.  The magazine had a great run and any who were fortunate to pick up a copy or copies know how rich their collections are to have them.  Some of the published issues can be found on the internet at places like Ebay for example.

There is a wonderful magazine called Back Issue that is similar to Comic Book Marketplace.  They provide a wide-variety of articles on the comic book industry and mediums that feature comic book characters.  Their focus is the 1970s, 1980s and current day.  Each issue is packed full of information and is published 8 times a year.  The magazine can be found at your comic book store and on the publisherís web site.

If you are a fan of Jack Kirby who basically was one of the greatest contributors to the comic book industry, then The Jack Kirby Collector magazine is something you need to add to your collection.  It is an oversized publication where many who worked and knew Kirby have come together in every issue to discuss, reminisce and document his monumental career and how he influenced so many artists, writers and other industry professionals.  The magazine is published by the same publisher who print Back Issue magazine and is available 4 times a year.  The magazine can be found at your comic book store and on the publisherís web site.

Comic Book Artist is a magazine devoted to artists and writers in the industry with the likes of Neal Adams, Walt Simonson, Dave Stevens, Wally Wood, Steve Englehart, Frank Brunner having been featured and interviewed for feature articles in past issues.  The magazine has been discontinued by the publisher and some back issues are available on their web site.  The magazine is published by the same publisher who produce Back Issue and The Jack Kirby Collector magazine.
 

Alter Ego magazine published by the same publisher as Back Issue, Kirby Collector and Comic Book Artist is edited by long-time Golden Age and Silver Age historian and former comic book writer Roy Thomas.  Itís a fanzine devoted to both comic book period's creators.  The magazine is published 8 times a year and can be found at your local comic book store and on the publisherís web site.

Draw magazine is a magazine devoted to helping anyone on how to draw comic books, comics animation and cartooning.  If you want to learn from some of the best talent in the comic book industry or simply want to read about the how to's, then this magazine is a great reference tool to acquire for your library.  Itís published 4 times a year by the same publisher of Back Issue and the other magazines above.

These are some of the best magazines available on the market about the extraordinary world of comic books.  I know there are other magazines available and ones that are out of print.  I will continue to add more listings to this page and hopefully provide you some direct sources to acquire them.

Happy Collecting!!!
 
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