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Reading Comics PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Reading Comics
Author: Douglas Wolk
Publisher: Published July 3rd 2007 by Da Capo Press (first published July 2nd 2007)
ISBN: 9780306815096
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Suddenly, comics are everywhere: a newly matured art form, filling bookshelves with brilliant, innovative work and shaping the ideas and images of the rest of contemporary culture. In Reading Comics, critic Douglas Wolk shows us why this is and how it came to be. Wolk illuminates the most dazzling creators of modern comics-from Alan Moore to Alison Bechdel to Dave Sim to C Suddenly, comics are everywhere: a newly matured art form, filling bookshelves with brilliant, innovative work and shaping the ideas and images of the rest of contemporary culture. In Reading Comics, critic Douglas Wolk shows us why this is and how it came to be. Wolk illuminates the most dazzling creators of modern comics-from Alan Moore to Alison Bechdel to Dave Sim to Chris Ware-and introduces a critical theory that explains where each fits into the pantheon of art. Reading Comics is accessible to the hardcore fan and the curious newcomer; it is the first book for people who want to know not just what comics are worth reading, but also the ways to think and talk and argue about them.

30 review for Reading Comics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    This book has two parts. The first section talks about the current state of comics in general, and it's not especially satisfying. This is a shame because Wolk is a smart guy who obviously loves all kinds of comics, and he writes sharp, interesting prose. He also seems to have a mission to convince fans of art comics that there's a value to mainstream/superhero comics, and vice versa, which I find really commendable. Wolk has no patience for people who dismiss any work of art categorically, and This book has two parts. The first section talks about the current state of comics in general, and it's not especially satisfying. This is a shame because Wolk is a smart guy who obviously loves all kinds of comics, and he writes sharp, interesting prose. He also seems to have a mission to convince fans of art comics that there's a value to mainstream/superhero comics, and vice versa, which I find really commendable. Wolk has no patience for people who dismiss any work of art categorically, and insists that, in his own words, there are bad things about good comics, and good things about bad comics -- and he's very specific about what he means by 'good' and 'bad.' This is interesting stuff, but it never quite comes together into a coherent thesis. I'm not sure he's ever exactly clear on who he's talking to, either, particularly in the sections about superhero comics. At the same time that he's trumpeting their value, he seems to assume that they're only really comprehensible if you've absorbed years worth of superhero comics -- so this is either addressed to people who are never going to be able to understand the things, or to people who don't need to be convinced of their value because we already read them. It's too bad, because when he gets into specifics -- discussing Brian Bendis & Alex Maleev's 'Daredevil' run, for instance -- he has really insightful things to say. But overall, after reading the first part of the book, I still don't really understand what Wolk's point is. I wish he'd worked a little more on clarifying what the book is supposed to accomplish, instead of drifting off into anecdotes about his own run-ins with Internet fandom, or giving a list of his favorite things about mainstream comics (though I admit this part was fun, and it underlines that Wolk genuinely loves the stuff). If the first part of "Reading Comics" has you skimming, I'd recommend skipping straight to the meat of the book, which is a section of review essays about influential creators. This is where Wolk's critical gifts really shine. He's really good at talking about why he likes the things he likes (as opposed to many critics who only shine when they're taking something apart -- a more flashy but ultimately less useful skill). That's not to say that this is just a cheerleading section. Even regarding the creators he admits are favorites (notably Alan Moore and Grant Morrison) Wolk candidly discusses the things that don't work as well as the things that do. The range of works he talks about is impressive -- from Love and Rockets to Watchmen to Marv Wolfman's run on Tomb of Dracula -- and while he insists this isn't meant to be any kind of reading list, he definitely helped me add some items to mine.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dominick

    I had expected this to be a tad more academic (and a tad less fannish) than it actually is. Not that Wolk doesn't have interesting insights--he certainly knows his stuff--but too often the tone was rather too casual for my tastes, even veering towards summary at times. Even when I agree with Wolk's often hyperbolic characterizations of certain comics (this one is the most terrible comic of its era, that one is ridiculous, etc.), such readings are more what I expect from, say, a blog than a book. I had expected this to be a tad more academic (and a tad less fannish) than it actually is. Not that Wolk doesn't have interesting insights--he certainly knows his stuff--but too often the tone was rather too casual for my tastes, even veering towards summary at times. Even when I agree with Wolk's often hyperbolic characterizations of certain comics (this one is the most terrible comic of its era, that one is ridiculous, etc.), such readings are more what I expect from, say, a blog than a book. Of course, much of what's included here was initially published online, so my own expectations about a book collide here with the materials from which this one has been constructed. Wolk does run readers through a brief overview of comics as a form before branching out into essays on a whole bunch of different cartoonists (mostly art/indy figures, but with occasional nods to the mainstream--notably and somewhat surprisingly, Starlin's Warlock stuff and Wolfman and Colan's Dracula stuff). As you might imagine, therefore., this is a rather eclectic book, perhaps more suited for dipping into than being read through from cover to cover. It's a quick, easy read, though; Wolk's style does flow smoothly.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daryl

    Wolk is a critic and his book is one of criticism. It’s not what I was expecting – more history of comics and some analysis of the medium, perhaps – but I can’t blame him for my expectations. The first third of the book (“Theory and History”) trends closer to what I expected, but I found myself getting angry every now and then as I read it. Wolk early on makes a distinction between “art comics” and “mainstream” comics and then makes a point how art comics (usually auteurist work by a single crea Wolk is a critic and his book is one of criticism. It’s not what I was expecting – more history of comics and some analysis of the medium, perhaps – but I can’t blame him for my expectations. The first third of the book (“Theory and History”) trends closer to what I expected, but I found myself getting angry every now and then as I read it. Wolk early on makes a distinction between “art comics” and “mainstream” comics and then makes a point how art comics (usually auteurist work by a single creator, rather than a writer-artist team) are generally superior to the mainstream. (Thankfully, he doesn't say they’re inherently better.) However, for someone who prefers art comics, he certainly knows a lot about – and has a lot of affection for – certain mainstream comics. Personally, I find many so-called mainstream comics a lot more interesting and fun to read than Wolk’s “art comics.” At one point he intimates that anyone who still reads mainstream comics as an adult (e.g., me) is somehow stunted in maturity and sexuality. Then, within a few pages, he goes on about how much he loves some superhero books (I’m thinking it was Green Lantern, but can’t find the reference right now). The inconsistency bugs me. He skims over some of the historical stuff – and some of it directly conflicts with my own understanding of comics history. His insistence on referring to regularly published monthly comics as “pamphlets” grates, as does anyone’s attempt to re-define something simply because they don’t like the terms generally used. However, I gotta say that while I didn't agree with much of Wolk’s tenor and approach in the book, it did inspire a reaction in me and got me thinking, which ain't a bad thing. The latter two-thirds of the book (“Reviews and Commentary”) is filled with Wolk’s thoughts (I’d almost say recommendations, but…) on 20 or so comics (or graphic novels) or more likely, the oeuvre of certain creators. While I’m familiar with nearly all of the work he discusses, and have read maybe a quarter of it, nothing he says inspires me to want to pick up and read any of it. He’s never completely positive about anything (at least he’s not fawning over anyone or their work, and that’s good), and even those works he acknowledges as the best of the best, he finds problems with. I wouldn't think anyone who’s not familiar with comics would get much out of this. (With one possible exception – there’s about an 8-page sequence where Wolk explains how to read a comic, which a novice might find enlightening; I intend to try to find out.) And anyone who knows a lot about comics (i.e. me) won’t find anything new here, other than one person’s opinions.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    Wolk’s book on comics attempts to establish comic theory, analogous to film theory or literary theory, as a starting point for discussing comics. Wolk himself seems to know how hapless a task this is, pointing to the example of how Scott McCloud tied himself in knots just trying to define “comics” in his book Understanding Comics, only to find his definition immediately denounced by some readers. There never has been a consistent, universally acknowledged approach to understanding and writing ab Wolk’s book on comics attempts to establish comic theory, analogous to film theory or literary theory, as a starting point for discussing comics. Wolk himself seems to know how hapless a task this is, pointing to the example of how Scott McCloud tied himself in knots just trying to define “comics” in his book Understanding Comics, only to find his definition immediately denounced by some readers. There never has been a consistent, universally acknowledged approach to understanding and writing about literature, film, music or any of the arts. Criticism is an art, not a science, and is prone to the re-thinking, revisions, and arguments attendant to other art forms. At least literary theory is in the same language/form as what it discusses, a fundamental drawback in film and art criticism. McCloud seemed to recognize this, which is why Understanding Comics is a work of criticism in the form of a comic book. Wolk is determined to codify comic book aesthetics as an initial step in discussing the art form, hapless task or not. Reading Comics is divided into two sections: an overall history and theory of comics, followed by reviews of comics Wolk likes. The first section is the less successful of the two. Wolk attempts to define theory and detail 60+ years of history in under 150 pages, not only for those familiar with comics, but for those unfamiliar with the form. I read comics and know what he was talking about, but I’m not sure it would hold the interest of those who don’t. I found myself engaging less with his ideas than looking for nits to pick. His reviews in the second half fare better. I remember reading many of them on Salon.com and they’re intelligent essays, neither stuffy nor puerile. His essay about David B’s Epileptic made me want to put down this book and go read Epileptic – a compliment to Wolk. On the other hand, his piece on Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles made it sound incomprehensible and, even worse, a complete drag. I’m working my way through Morrison’s work right now and it is neither. He finds new things to say about the Hernandez brothers and his dissection of Chris Ware is perfect. “There is insight there” as Pauline Kael would say, and Wolk is at his best when he focuses on individual books or creators rather than overreaching for a theory to describe an entire medium.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Austin

    There is no part of this book that wasn't fun to read, and I'm sure that for other comics fans similar to myself, that would be entirely true, too. Douglas Wolk is not just a fan, he is absolutely in love with the medium of comics, and as he guides people through some of the best-loved heavy-hitters of the medium, he offers insight into their work in a style that clearly spells out how much fun he's having while he does this kind of work. One of Wolk's strongest assets is his ability to call out There is no part of this book that wasn't fun to read, and I'm sure that for other comics fans similar to myself, that would be entirely true, too. Douglas Wolk is not just a fan, he is absolutely in love with the medium of comics, and as he guides people through some of the best-loved heavy-hitters of the medium, he offers insight into their work in a style that clearly spells out how much fun he's having while he does this kind of work. One of Wolk's strongest assets is his ability to call out cartoonists for what their weaknesses are, and this is often hard to do without sounding like you're just being unfair. Comics are often so maligned as a medium that some critics are unwilling to "tell it like it is," and instead offer glowing praise where there is, in fact, no room for any. Wolk, however, is willing to point out Steve Ditko's shortcomings, and will call something a turd if it really is. This quality in his writing builds a certain amount of trust with fans who know how to tell good from bad, and works perfectly for people new to comics, so as not to lead them into a steaming pile of back-issues. Be warned: while this book is an excellent introduction to comics, it is often billed as a book on comics theory, which it is not. Wolk reviews artists and writers, and offers a lot of opinion and story breakdowns. But only occasionally will he add theory into the mix, something that probably would have doubled the length of the book while simultaneously forcing him to focus on fewer subjects. This shouldn't be a negative point, though. There is plenty of time to pursue the academic realms these comics will take us. In the here-and-now, this acts as a great way to definitively convince that friend of yours that other people take comics as seriously as you do.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Devin Bruce

    Reading Comics would be a great book for people with a basic curiosity of the medium, but it’s also sidelined by the insularity of comics fans: it’s mostly going to be read by people who already have an interest in them. Which isn’t a bad thing, because although Douglas Wolk would hope to appeal to the “curious newcomer”, the topics covered inside should also help the “hardcore fan”. (Both terms are used on the inner lining of the dust jacket.) Wolk is clever, sometimes self-awarely so, but prese Reading Comics would be a great book for people with a basic curiosity of the medium, but it’s also sidelined by the insularity of comics fans: it’s mostly going to be read by people who already have an interest in them. Which isn’t a bad thing, because although Douglas Wolk would hope to appeal to the “curious newcomer”, the topics covered inside should also help the “hardcore fan”. (Both terms are used on the inner lining of the dust jacket.) Wolk is clever, sometimes self-awarely so, but presents the material clearly and in an engaging manner. He starts out with a very cursory history of the medium and talks a little about superhero comics, which are often maligned in books on comics criticism – sometimes for good reason. But the last three-fifths of the book are essays about different creators. Some are “indie” writer/cartoonists (Chris Ware, Dave Sim), and some are superhero writers (Alan Moore) and cartoonists (Steve Ditko). He covers the spectrum from pop trash (Marvel’s 70s horror book Tomb of Dracula) and the highly-regarded (Maus and Fun Home). He doesn’t cover EVERYTHING any particular reader would like, but there’s no way he could. He picks and chooses his own favourites, so there’s no way you could find serious fault by him not choosing chapters that feature, say, Jack Kirby, Carl Barks, or R. Crumb. The great thing about the book is that it encompasses so many creators that most readers wouldn’t know about all of them. So it helps break down barriers between the superhero fans and the indie fans, trying to make comics a little less insular. And if a few people from outside the comics bubble read the book and get interested, all the better. A good book for the comics neophyte, who might never read it, and a great book for the comics fan, who likely doesn’t need the reccommendation.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This is the closest to my point of view on comics I've yet encountered in criticism. I admire Douglas's willingness to defend superhero comics even when it goes a step beyond my taste. The book is divided into two halves: theory and criticism. I can't wait to read some of the works he describes in the second half--it's a bit like my favorite documentary Visions of Light where you're so intrigued and swayed by the criticism that you need to follow every crumb back to the various artworks in quest This is the closest to my point of view on comics I've yet encountered in criticism. I admire Douglas's willingness to defend superhero comics even when it goes a step beyond my taste. The book is divided into two halves: theory and criticism. I can't wait to read some of the works he describes in the second half--it's a bit like my favorite documentary Visions of Light where you're so intrigued and swayed by the criticism that you need to follow every crumb back to the various artworks in question.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo Baptista

    I think the title says it all. The book is divided in two halfs: the first one has some comments and thoughts about comics, its idiosyncracies, the best and worst; the second half are reviews of works that the author deems noteworthy. It seems like a very personal book and is at times fascinating (the Grant Morrison article comes to mind) but doesn't really bring a whole lot to the comics studies field and it doesn't have to.

  9. 5 out of 5

    L.A.

    Who critiques the critics? Me, that's who. But Wolk passes muster, for the most part. Though a bit dated, his book functions as a nice capsule summary of a particular time period in comics, and would be worth looking through if you knew nothing whatsoever about non-superhero comics (or "art comics" as Wolk calls them). The first half of the book is largely devoted to defining terms and defending critical methodology. This is useful in that Wolk is able to explain how the world of comics works whi Who critiques the critics? Me, that's who. But Wolk passes muster, for the most part. Though a bit dated, his book functions as a nice capsule summary of a particular time period in comics, and would be worth looking through if you knew nothing whatsoever about non-superhero comics (or "art comics" as Wolk calls them). The first half of the book is largely devoted to defining terms and defending critical methodology. This is useful in that Wolk is able to explain how the world of comics works while simultaneously pointing out trouble areas and explaining why its language can be so darned slippery at times. This skews a bit academic, but Wolk's pithy sense of humor dings in at exactly the right beats, making the book very readable. The second half is more fun, partially because it's a series of chapters about specific artists and their works, but also because it's where Wolk's nerdy fanboy peeks out. You can tell how he feels about each of the artists he describes and critiques, and it's mostly charming...right up to the chapter on Dave Sim, which is a weaksauce apology for a misogynist written by somebody who will never ever have to deal with the force of that misogyny as a reader. [NB: If you run into somebody and they say they love Dave Sim, and their favorite comic is Cerebus, make sure you have really good boundaries, because dollars to doughnuts this person will eventually do you dirty, if you are woman-identified. You have been warned.] This glaring flaw aside, Wolk's book is entirely serviceable for the lay reader or beginning comics scholar who wants to become familiar with key figures and their styles, as well as begin to develop a critical approach to comics in general. Recommended for large library collections.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Musicalla

    This is a tough book. My enjoyment of it is bell curve shaped. The first part is a discussion about comics in general, and it’s a really slog to get through. He makes the distinction between what he calls “art comics,” which he defines as comics made with the sole purpose of revealing the artist’s concept the way the artist wants, and what he generally throws into the waste basket of “superhero conics,” which is basically anything published by a big name (mostly DC or Marvel) that has a strong h This is a tough book. My enjoyment of it is bell curve shaped. The first part is a discussion about comics in general, and it’s a really slog to get through. He makes the distinction between what he calls “art comics,” which he defines as comics made with the sole purpose of revealing the artist’s concept the way the artist wants, and what he generally throws into the waste basket of “superhero conics,” which is basically anything published by a big name (mostly DC or Marvel) that has a strong hand in the design, writing, and style. Man, does he HATE the superhero comics, to point where he said that people who like them have some part of themselves that have remained immature. Once he’s done insulting everyone who likes superhero comics and/or doesn’t like art comics, the second part is a series of chapters about individual artists and their work. This section is pretty interesting but gets very repetitive. I felt like I really had to push myself to finish it. Unfortunately, I don’t think he ever really addressed the “How Graphic Novels Work” part in his title. I was interested to learn about the mechanics of comics - how the pictures and text work to create pacing and narrative. While he talks ABOUT these things, he never really EXPLAINS them. He simply discussed them from the position that I already know what he’s talking about. That was a big disappointment.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

    An academic yet insular book about the medium that had the mainstreams attention (until it was appropriated into trans-media). Reading Comics is kind of a lesson in the medium and in good taste. In someways we are living in the Golden Age of the medium (I'd personally say the early 2000s was the Zenith, but that's neither here or there). The Mainstream is strong and has large public awareness and acceptance and there's more diversity then ever (perhaps with even too many books). Best American Co An academic yet insular book about the medium that had the mainstreams attention (until it was appropriated into trans-media). Reading Comics is kind of a lesson in the medium and in good taste. In someways we are living in the Golden Age of the medium (I'd personally say the early 2000s was the Zenith, but that's neither here or there). The Mainstream is strong and has large public awareness and acceptance and there's more diversity then ever (perhaps with even too many books). Best American Comics, Scott Pilgrin, Fun Home, All-Star Superman, Curses, Karmers Ergot, Daredevil, Babel, Love and Rockets, Ghost World, La Perida, Palookaville Hate, Jimbo in Purgatory, Plastic Man, American Born Chinese, Blankets, Ice Haven, Yummy Fur, It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken, American Flagg!, Dishman, Palestine, Epileptic, Tin TIn, Robert Crumb, Jack Kirby, Warlock, The Frank Book, Age of Bronze, One!Hundred!Demon, Leviathan, Steve Ditko, Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Gray Horses, Finder, LOEG, Promethea, Lost Girls, The Invisibles, Seven Soldiers, Cerebus, Tomb of Dracula, Ganges, RAW, Blackhole, Jimmy Corrigan, etc It's a celebration of what's terrible and Amazing about comics.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    (Caveat: Just read Caroline's review of 1/25/09 at http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/.... This says all I have to say in just 3 paragraphs. Be forewarned.) With all the literary criticism flying around and my own avid reading of the metacomics and comics commentaries of Will Eisner, Scott McCloud, Dylan Horrocks, et al, I hesitated in picking up this book. I hesitated, thinking that it would be a case of 'been there, read that.' I needn't have worried, the book's independently fascinating. Read (Caveat: Just read Caroline's review of 1/25/09 at http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/.... This says all I have to say in just 3 paragraphs. Be forewarned.) With all the literary criticism flying around and my own avid reading of the metacomics and comics commentaries of Will Eisner, Scott McCloud, Dylan Horrocks, et al, I hesitated in picking up this book. I hesitated, thinking that it would be a case of 'been there, read that.' I needn't have worried, the book's independently fascinating. Reading Comics is presented in two parts. The first third takes on the power and history of comics without struggling to define the boundaries of the media the way Scott McCloud does in Understanding Comics (a comic which Wolk explicitly considers). As Wolk puts it on p. 17, "if you have picked up this book and have not been spending the last century trapped inside a magic lantern, you already pretty much know what (comics) are, and 'pretty much' is good enough." This isn't a cop-out (well it is, a little) because Wolk is less interested in breaking down the visual grammar unique to comics as a medium or chronicling its maturation (McCloud's agenda) than lionizing their new-found sophistication and sources of inspiration. Basically, Wolk wants to talk about the comics he loves and what he loves about them without seeking to justify or pigeonholing the medium itself. Comics are not prose. Comics are not movies. They are not a text-driven medium with added pictures; they're nopt the visual equivalent of a prose narrative or a static version of a film. They are their own thing: a medium with its own devices, its own innovators, its own cliches, its own genres and traps and liberties. The first step toward attentively reading and fully appreciating comics is acknowledging that. (p. 14) This approach makes reading Wolk complementary rather than redundant to McCloud. However, the real meat of this book is contained in the richer second part, in which Wolk selects the works of some 20 comics creators for analysis, devoting a whole chapter to each. The parade of comics creators ranges from Alan Moore to Alison Bechdel from Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Libraries to the respective Love and Rockets of Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, but Wolk makes no claim to authoritativeness (excellence, say, or representative selection) beyond personal bias. His essays "are just about comics and cartoonists I think are interesting to discuss." (p. 137) That said, Wolk can't avoid coming across as a comics authority, if only because it seems he's read practically everything that's ever been published as a comic in the last 100 years. (I find that kind of devotion mind-boggling. I mean, I'm a cinephile, but I don't go out of my way to see everything; I stick to the genres and directors I like.) As many creators as Wolk chooses to discuss, it's clear there are plenty more he's happy to namecheck. In fact, that's his claim for comics' mainstream emergence. Citing six recent books I've yet to even encounter on a library shelf, Wolk makes the point that where 20 years ago they would have been seen as "shocking leap(s) forward for the comics medium" and even 10 years ago still be way ahead of their contemporaries, now they just read as "really good" and "(t)hree cheers for that." (p. 371) Wolk's whole point is to view any individual comic wholly on the basis of its own merits rather than on its arbitrary place in history. (And on those merits, Maus is still entitled to raves.) How should one write about comics? For most of Reading Comics, the author adopts a dispassionate tone. A typical passage from p. 142: "In Epileptic, everything is simultaneously its real-world self and its distorted fantasy self, charged with mystic significance. When people and things are seen in their usual physical forms, (David) B. draws them in a gently mannered style…; unreal things and imaginary entities are creatures of almost pure design… (whose d)istances and shapes are determined by psychology, not compasses and rulers." But occasionally, Wolk's gushing fanboy emerges, as when he sums up a Grant Morrison story: "It's smart and complicated, and sometimes rushed and baffling, but mostly it's awesome, and where The Invisibles occasionally kicks back to indulge its metaphysical side, Seven Soldiers starts hammering the FUN!!! button on its first page and never really stops." (p. 278) In every case, just when you start wondering what the heck Wolk's describing looks like on the page, he shows you with the relevant series of panels under consideration. Wolk's not just here to flog his faves, as a good critic he comes right to the fore with the problematic aspects of his selected work, and always in an engaging manner. He's in good company with respect aplenty for Dave Sim's 27-years-in-the-making, 6,000 page (alas, ultimately misogynist) achievement Cerebus, but contextualizes his praise just as breathlessly, "pages of the story alternate with an exceedingly tiresome roman a clef about the comics industry, which becomes a screed about how men are actually the capital-L Light and women, who, incidentally, can read minds, are the capital-V Void, and if you're guessing that this is where Cerebus starts to go seriously awry, gold star." (p. 299) Ultimately, this book is a GoodReader's joy, witty and opinionated, literate and thoughtful, informative, interesting, and chock-full of illustrated examples that give me new appreciation of familiar works and curiousity about those which I haven't yet encountered. If Douglas Wolk was on GoodReads, I'd be following everything he reviewed. Perhaps it's just as well books of literary criticism are still published. Otherwise, we'd be left grappling with reviews of reviews of books reviewing comics. Now that's what I call metadata.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erinc

    From my blog: Reviewing Comics Although the cover jacket proclaims Wolk's 2007 volume as "the first serious, readable, provocative, canon-smashing book of comics theory and criticism", the very existence of this blog proves that Reading Comics is no such thing. But, apart from the rather pompous cover blurb, Wolk, as a veteran comics reader and critic, has succeeded in putting together a very interesting and comprehensive book nevertheless. Reading Comics is organized in two parts, in the first pa From my blog: Reviewing Comics Although the cover jacket proclaims Wolk's 2007 volume as "the first serious, readable, provocative, canon-smashing book of comics theory and criticism", the very existence of this blog proves that Reading Comics is no such thing. But, apart from the rather pompous cover blurb, Wolk, as a veteran comics reader and critic, has succeeded in putting together a very interesting and comprehensive book nevertheless. Reading Comics is organized in two parts, in the first part that takes up about one third of the book, Wolk discusses various theoretical subjects regarding comics and takes up some of the more general aspects of comics readership. The rest of the book is devoted to reviews and opinions of Wolk on individual artists and their work. Although he has very interesting views on some of the most important artists and his reviews of their work are on the whole very enlightening, for the purposes of this blog, I will focus on the first part of his book and present a summary of how he tackles with the theoretical aspects of comics. Wolk starts with an insightful discussion of what comics are and what they aren't. He emphasizes the ways comics differ from prose and movies. He then sketches out some of the limitations and possibilities of the unique characteristics of comics' language. After establishing his understanding of comics, Wolk states his mission as to explore some of the ways it's possible to read comics and he adds that his interest lies more with the way readers interact with comics than anything else. The comics Wolk is interested in the most are the ones that display an individual and distinctive style, which in most cases exclude long-running series, even though they have considerable cultural significance. In aiming to more clearly define style, Wolk attempts to describe it by adapting the auteur theory from cinema to comics. After establishing his interests as such, and why he is interested in them, Wolk goes on to provide a very concise, yet illustrative history of the art comics movement. This is especially important because the history of this artistically most creative branch of the medium is seldom told by other studies of comics history. While telling their evolution, Wolk also cites several other literary and aesthetic theories to explain the way arts comics come to diverge from mainstream and how is this divergence significant. Another very interesting topic Wolk takes up is the naming conventions of various comics. He suggests the terminology used by the comics industry; * Periodic publications with saddle-stitching are comic books, * Anything square bound is a graphic novel and * comics is the abstract notion used to describe the form. He claims that any value judgments that are inherent in terms like graphic novel and comic book are problematic and non-helpful. Wolk also turns his attention to the comics culture and presents a very sincere picture of the comics enthusiasts and what he loves and hates about them. Before finishing the theoretical part of his work, Wolk overviews the superhero genre and while trying to identify a way to constructively analyze them he suggests a deceptively simple question: "What does this character metaphorically stand for?" Although Wolk covers in his theoretical writings many of the themes discussed brilliantly by both Eisner and McCloud, he manages to bring a personal approach to these issues and while I don't personally agree with some of his arguments, his sincere approach always makes interesting reading. The rest of the book is taken up by the analyses of various comics artists and their work where Wolk usually provides very insightful and knowledgeable opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of the works discussed. Overall, Reading Comics might not be the only book you'll ever need to read about comics but it provides a very interesting perspective on all the issues it tackles. Probably what I loved the most about the book though is the apparent love of comics of the author that can be felt in every sentence and at least in this respect, the book sets a great example.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ben Carlsen

    There are parts of this book that are good, but they do not outnumber the parts that aren't. The second section of the book, which includes analysis of specific works, is good overall. I didn't read all of them, because I'm not interested in all of them. Each analysis chapter is self-contained, so there's no need to read all of them if, like me, you're tired of reading this book by the time you get to that section and would rather be reading something else. When talking about those works and wha There are parts of this book that are good, but they do not outnumber the parts that aren't. The second section of the book, which includes analysis of specific works, is good overall. I didn't read all of them, because I'm not interested in all of them. Each analysis chapter is self-contained, so there's no need to read all of them if, like me, you're tired of reading this book by the time you get to that section and would rather be reading something else. When talking about those works and what makes them tick, Wolk does a fairly good job. For the most part, though, he has no idea what he's talking about. First of all, comic artists are not cartoonists. The word "cartoonist" is used over and over in this book to refer to comic artists, and it's used incorrectly every time. I realize that there are many professionals who use the term colloquially to refer to comic artists, but I don't understand why it's being used in a book that is trying to be serious in at least a small way. Cartoonists draw cartoons, be they animated or in strip form. Comic books do not contain cartoons. Artists who draw comic books are called comic artists. I happen to consider myself a cartoonist because I draw cartoons. Comic book artists do not do what I do. Therefore, they shouldn't be referred to as cartoonists. I'd even be able to overlook it slightly if he only referred to the people that do the artwork as cartoonists, but he refers to Alan Moore as a cartoonist. Alan Moore doesn't even draw, and never has. Secondly, Wolk is obviously a writer and not an artist. This being the case, he shouldn't talk about art like he knows anything about it, because he doesn't, and he does a horrible job trying to convince me that he does. Also, the comments about how long things take to draw are silly, because perhaps a writer could write something faster than they could draw it, but many artists can draw things faster than they can write them. It's irritating to read anyone talk about things they know nothing about and watch them try to convince you that they do. If you're a writer and know about writing, and you're writing a book about comic books, focus on discussing the writing in the comic books. You'll be far more successful. Thirdly, Wolk seems to want to convince us that while he doesn't want to include any superhero comics in his analyses he's still a superhero fan. He does so by referring to the fact once, and then proceeding to entirely trash and belittle superhero comics. He also seems to try to defend them by pushing back against the idea that they're unrealistic. That's the whole point, he says. He then calls Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis "...the most egregiously terrible comic book of all time" and complains for five pages about how unrealistic it is. Besides the fact that there are far worse comic books in existence, Identity Crisis was what it was because of what every other comic coming out at that time was. It was the comic everyone wanted at the time, and it didn't do anything that comics hadn't already been doing for years. He also complains about the sexual violence in it and later gushes about Alan Moore, who built his career writing stories with that kind of thing. It's beyond contradictory. It's sloppy and not in any way thought out. I finally figured out how much the book was not working for me when I realized how often Wolk quotes Scott McCloud and how much I felt like I'd rather be reading his books instead. I'm glad I checked it out from the library and didn't buy it, because although my tax dollars did pay for it, at least I can bring it back and it won't have to take up space on my shelf.

  15. 4 out of 5

    P.

    finished! Douglas Wolk has many opinions. Rightly so, he makes his living as a critic. And this is his examination/love letter to comics. Part of it is a kind of meta-history of comics histories and his explanation of why and how the form does what it does. And part of it is examinations of his favorite comics that are also flawed. Personally, it got to be a little much Wolk for me. There's a lot of good stuff in here, and I like that Wolk includes superhero and auteur stuff, and in general I lik finished! Douglas Wolk has many opinions. Rightly so, he makes his living as a critic. And this is his examination/love letter to comics. Part of it is a kind of meta-history of comics histories and his explanation of why and how the form does what it does. And part of it is examinations of his favorite comics that are also flawed. Personally, it got to be a little much Wolk for me. There's a lot of good stuff in here, and I like that Wolk includes superhero and auteur stuff, and in general I like reading what he has to say even if I don't agree with him. But there's just too much of him in here - he clearly loves comics that are highly structured and kind of philosophical, so if that's not your bag, then don't read when goes into almost mind-numbing detail on Grant Morrison. And like any human, he tends to use the same turns of phrase at certain points, so seeing them over and over again became a little bit of a bingo game for me. The good part is that the chapters are clearly marked, if it's boring, you can just skip it. And everyone he mentions is obviously worth taking a look at. On the other hand, he points out the defensiveness of comics fans and then kind of indulges in it himself. At the end of the Theory & History section he starts in on this poetry/painting comparison and makes some majorly weird claims about the limits of both, and also says that pure geometric forms aren't found in nature at one point (what are diamonds???). At some points I thought he was too readily dismissive or didn't do a close reading on one artist when he did read so closely on another that I thought he was giving some people short shrift to just find "flaws" to illuminate, rather than allowing for different readings and interpretations of a work. Anyway, nitpicking. He does get some good zingers in (especially regarding superheroes): ". . .she's killed immediately after discovering that she's pregnant, an emotional device so cheap that Tearjerker Depot usually just leaves a crate of its ilk out front in the hopes that someone will take it." "what Identity Crisis is presenting ...as exhausted illusions are the idea of heroism itself ...as well as the ideas the consistency of character counts for more than bean-counting 'continuity,' and that even the most consequential parts of a huge fictional meta-narrative should speak to an audience greater than long-devoted fanatics. Without those principles, the superhero genre is itself exhausted of everything but an endless loop of brightly colored brutality." "The fact is that open-ended franchises, like all big-name superheroes, are fundamentally unable to grow up in some sense. Their stewards are charged with maintaining the marketable things about them, which means that significant, lasting change is almost impossible to get past the marketing department, or past sentimentally attached readers."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    So I finally finished reading this, maybe a year after I should have, and I think in the end I was a little disappointed. I think in some ways it's a really good book for people who don't know much of anything about comics but are looking for a quick and easy way to get up to speed on some of the issues in the field. In that sense, this book, especially the first half, is kind of like a cliff-notes of sorts for the medium. But that's also an odd thing to want to write, a kind of primer for newspa So I finally finished reading this, maybe a year after I should have, and I think in the end I was a little disappointed. I think in some ways it's a really good book for people who don't know much of anything about comics but are looking for a quick and easy way to get up to speed on some of the issues in the field. In that sense, this book, especially the first half, is kind of like a cliff-notes of sorts for the medium. But that's also an odd thing to want to write, a kind of primer for newspaper writers and trend journalists, especially when I think most papers have someone on staff who knows this stuff already, even if they've never had a chance to write about it before. In the second half, the readings section of Reading Comics, I think there are maybe two great chapters. The one on Morrison is really good, even though I think Wolk wiffs on Seven Soldiers a bit. But most of these short essays are too short-- they don't offer a reading in the sense of the interpretation, but instead kind of an overview of some things about the book you might find interesting. It's weird to read a whole book that is interested in what amounts to a more or less cocktail party level of information about a field I've been immersed in for years. I'm no expert, to be sure, and Wolk is a good writer. But I feel like this book, good as it is, could have pushed itself more, accomplished more, and I'm left a little disappointed that it didn't.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jesse De Angelis

    Ugh. This book doesn't actually explain how comics "work" or what they "mean." Instead, it's a bunch of self-indulgent rambling, all written like the blog of someone who is trying desperately trying to make you think they are funny. After a much-abridged history of comics, he devotes a tiny and uninformative chapter to the actual theory of comics; most of this is him quoting more articulate people, and then saying that he agrees with their assertions. After that, the majority of the book is him e Ugh. This book doesn't actually explain how comics "work" or what they "mean." Instead, it's a bunch of self-indulgent rambling, all written like the blog of someone who is trying desperately trying to make you think they are funny. After a much-abridged history of comics, he devotes a tiny and uninformative chapter to the actual theory of comics; most of this is him quoting more articulate people, and then saying that he agrees with their assertions. After that, the majority of the book is him explaining why things he likes are good - but not some of the things that he likes, as they are "somehow dodgy or flawed, and [he would] rather explain what brings [him] joy about them then endorse them unequivocally."[138] Does this mean that we are to assume the comics he has selected are ones that he feels he can endorse unequivocally? if that's the case, why bother writing about them? Apparently, explaining to a reader why something that is flawed can still be good is not worth the effort. Instead, he writes the kinds of plot-summary-heavy reviews that don't tell you anything more than if you should buy it or not. Also, he apparently believes that auteur theory is something worth talking about, which it is clearly not.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This caught my eye because I've read several comics over the past couple of years, which I hadn't done since I was a kid and the "graphic novel" is in some ways so very different than the Richie Rich comics I read that they were hard to grasp. Is this literature, I wondered. Is it an art form "equal" to prose? It was clear that some of what I read was, indeed, the equal of a great novel (e.g., "Watchmen") while others seemed overblown and over-appreciated upon no real basis (no names here). I was This caught my eye because I've read several comics over the past couple of years, which I hadn't done since I was a kid and the "graphic novel" is in some ways so very different than the Richie Rich comics I read that they were hard to grasp. Is this literature, I wondered. Is it an art form "equal" to prose? It was clear that some of what I read was, indeed, the equal of a great novel (e.g., "Watchmen") while others seemed overblown and over-appreciated upon no real basis (no names here). I was surprised to find a 400 page book waiting for me at the library! More than I had bargained for. I didn't read much of this; just the introductory chapters to get a sense of what the author was going for. It appears well written and reasonably complete although it felt odd to read a book about comics that was not in more of a graphic format (i.e., it's all black and white and text) but that was probably just my expectations. If you're a fan of the medium, I can see that this would probably be required reading. A quick shout out to the artist Michael Gaydos, who I went to high school with and who is mentioned very positively here. Very impressed by what he's achieved over the years. Wish I'd done half as much.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marcie

    Since this book's subtitle is "How graphic novels work and what they mean," I had rather hoped Reading Comics would help me get more out of our book club selection, Fun Home, and maybe pique my interest for other graphic novels. I only ended up reading a few chapters out of the whole book though, for several reasons: A) It requires significant prior knowledge of the history of comics, which I did not have. Wolk constantly refers to various works & authors and only explains some of them; this Since this book's subtitle is "How graphic novels work and what they mean," I had rather hoped Reading Comics would help me get more out of our book club selection, Fun Home, and maybe pique my interest for other graphic novels. I only ended up reading a few chapters out of the whole book though, for several reasons: A) It requires significant prior knowledge of the history of comics, which I did not have. Wolk constantly refers to various works & authors and only explains some of them; this made the book less interesting for me, since I often had little to no idea what he was talking about. B) Wolk spent most of the chapters I read defending his own definitions of various comic-related terms and ideas; this was not what I was looking for, since it did nothing to enhance my reading of individual graphic novels. C) The chapter on Fun Home was more of a book/author review (again, Wolk's opinion) than a literature/art analysis, so it didn't really help me understand its object any better. I'm sure this book holds interest for readers who have a lot of experience with Comics/Graphic Novels, but I found the subtitle ultimately to be quite misleading, and the book didn't hold much appeal for beginners.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Pitched as a primer on comics, but doesn't follow through. Reading Comics suffers from the same insularity-of-subject that the author himself identifies as a problem in the comics world. While it offers a decent jumping-off point for a newbie who wants to know more about what's good to read, only about a third of the book is dedicated to the meaning and history of comics. The rest is a compilation of Wolk's essays on specific authors, series, and books, which means someone who expected a how-to o Pitched as a primer on comics, but doesn't follow through. Reading Comics suffers from the same insularity-of-subject that the author himself identifies as a problem in the comics world. While it offers a decent jumping-off point for a newbie who wants to know more about what's good to read, only about a third of the book is dedicated to the meaning and history of comics. The rest is a compilation of Wolk's essays on specific authors, series, and books, which means someone who expected a how-to on reading comics is left adrift, most of all because the majority of Reading Comics--despite the aims stated in the introduction--can be appreciated only by those familiar with the publications being referenced. Wolk and his publisher go to great lengths to secure reprint rights for many, many individual cells or pages of comics, but ultimately, out of context, these reproductions are only meaningful to those who have read the references works in full themselves. So basically: use Reading Comics to select a handful of comics you would read yourself but only dive into the full book after having an idea of what Wolk is writing about.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    I don't think much of an author who wants to distinguish what he sees as 'art' comics compared to 'mainstream' comics. Reminds me of that old line about some animals being more equal than others. Ultimately, it's supposed to be all art, right? As a longtime comics reader, I survey the entire medium and I don't see it made up of different layers with the most desirable real estate on the top made up of people who only buy their trade paperbacks at hipster coffee shops and never walked into a comi I don't think much of an author who wants to distinguish what he sees as 'art' comics compared to 'mainstream' comics. Reminds me of that old line about some animals being more equal than others. Ultimately, it's supposed to be all art, right? As a longtime comics reader, I survey the entire medium and I don't see it made up of different layers with the most desirable real estate on the top made up of people who only buy their trade paperbacks at hipster coffee shops and never walked into a comic shop. In fact, I'm more impressed with the guys who are able to produce good art and stories every month, year in and year out, rather than those who grace us with their work every five years or so. I prefer the continuing story to the who-knows-what-you're-gonna-get stand alone graphic novel, generally speaking. And with something like The Avengers movie raking in a billion dollars, who's to say what the better comics are of the two kinds? Still, his basic premise seems to not go away, no matter how much I dislike it. He's not wrong.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    It's encouraging to see a serious, rather academic critical work about comics that's gotten good press and shown up in B&N and seems pretty popular. Something about the beginning turned me off, and I worried that I'd have to endure mediocre writing for the love of the subject, but I quuickly cottoned to Wolk's voice. He brought in Kant, Sontag, and others whose work I didn't expect to apply to comics, but in such a friendly and accessible way I didn't feel silly for not having read them. Thi It's encouraging to see a serious, rather academic critical work about comics that's gotten good press and shown up in B&N and seems pretty popular. Something about the beginning turned me off, and I worried that I'd have to endure mediocre writing for the love of the subject, but I quuickly cottoned to Wolk's voice. He brought in Kant, Sontag, and others whose work I didn't expect to apply to comics, but in such a friendly and accessible way I didn't feel silly for not having read them. This book might obviate anything I'd write about comics, but mostly I feel inspired to write more about them. My one complaint is that Wolk, like everyone I've read who writes about comics, seems to need to defend them, even though he says at the beginning that he doesn't. I think the next step in comics writing (and it may be a while) is a book that doesn't start with some variation on, "You may think comics are all about superheroes, but let me tell you otherwise...."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    I think Reading Comics was purposely named so it would fall in line with Scott McCloud's books, all of which are titled "[Gerund-form verb] Comics" Douglas Wolk starts out with a few chapters on why comics matter (even superhero comics) then breaks down individual comic creators' bodies of work. The second section is lots better, though Wolk's main thesis--that comics are just now entering their golden age of creativity and critique--is encouraging. As another reviewer said, Wolk is quick to po I think Reading Comics was purposely named so it would fall in line with Scott McCloud's books, all of which are titled "[Gerund-form verb] Comics" Douglas Wolk starts out with a few chapters on why comics matter (even superhero comics) then breaks down individual comic creators' bodies of work. The second section is lots better, though Wolk's main thesis--that comics are just now entering their golden age of creativity and critique--is encouraging. As another reviewer said, Wolk is quick to point out other authors' flaws (like Chris Ware's lack of fun or Will Eisner and Frank Miller's lack of character depth. The pointed critique ("Alan Moore has weird dialogue cadences!") was refreshing, given that comic fans are often quick to worship their favorite creators. Wolk's breakdown of books like The Invisibles and Fun Home made me want to revisit those books.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    This book has been a long time coming. In the big question regarding how comics can start getting talked about more seriously, the simplest answer is for people to actually just talk about them seriously. Douglas Wolk gets that started. While the first 1/3 may have an air of "well, duh" to long-time comics readers and professionals, it's still great to read how Wolk contextualizes the fundamentals, and many of his ideas may challenge you to consider why you have the conceptions about this artfor This book has been a long time coming. In the big question regarding how comics can start getting talked about more seriously, the simplest answer is for people to actually just talk about them seriously. Douglas Wolk gets that started. While the first 1/3 may have an air of "well, duh" to long-time comics readers and professionals, it's still great to read how Wolk contextualizes the fundamentals, and many of his ideas may challenge you to consider why you have the conceptions about this artform that you have. Once the author starts dissecting other people's work, however, we're off to the races. Even books I didn't rate on my own or haven't read come alive when Wolk writes about them. He proves that comics aren't as simplistic as their reputation often implies, and as with any passionate critic, his enthusiasm is infectious.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    This opening third of this book is Wolk's attempted deconstruction of comics as a form of expression, a valiant effort and worth a read of anybody who is looking for a mostly scholarly look at the medium. The major problem I had with this book came in the second half, with Wolk's critical essays of comics works, particularly the Grant Morrison and Alan Moore chapters. For somebody who has never read The Invisibles or Promethea, for example, his descriptions of their panel layouts and other artis This opening third of this book is Wolk's attempted deconstruction of comics as a form of expression, a valiant effort and worth a read of anybody who is looking for a mostly scholarly look at the medium. The major problem I had with this book came in the second half, with Wolk's critical essays of comics works, particularly the Grant Morrison and Alan Moore chapters. For somebody who has never read The Invisibles or Promethea, for example, his descriptions of their panel layouts and other artistic tricks are nearly impenetrable. It would have been really useful in these chapters to have more examples of the artwork/pages being discussed, though to be fair, I'm not sure if this is Wolk's fault or not (and I guess I should probably read the works in question, but y'know, whatever.)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Wolk gets points for snarkiness. Every once in a while, the gloves come off and he really gets a zinger in. So, as you may imagine, the general writing style is informal and engaging, even though he's not afraid of using Kant in his discussion. For me, though, the second section of the book, which is comprised of little essays on a variety of comic book artists/writers, dragged a little. This could be because I am unfamiliar with many of the creators that he discussed (for instance, I know Alan Wolk gets points for snarkiness. Every once in a while, the gloves come off and he really gets a zinger in. So, as you may imagine, the general writing style is informal and engaging, even though he's not afraid of using Kant in his discussion. For me, though, the second section of the book, which is comprised of little essays on a variety of comic book artists/writers, dragged a little. This could be because I am unfamiliar with many of the creators that he discussed (for instance, I know Alan Moore and Craig Thompson, but since most of the stuff that I've read comes from at least as late as the 80s, I wasn't terribly familiar with Steve Ditko). It could also be that these essays sometimes seem to meander a bit without a specific thesis. Oh, well. Still a good read, though. The first part, in which Wolk discusses comics history and theory, was very good.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jamil

    this will be "The" book of comics criticism for some time, i'd imagine. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and not simply because my sensibilities line up with Wolk's on several points (i gotta say i loved his commentary on how many of the best of the so-called art-comics are as crippled by the plague of nostalgia as the worst of superhero books), but also because he adamantly refuses canon and just plain revels in the rapturous beauty of good & trashy comics. Chapter 16 on Grant Morrison is probably this will be "The" book of comics criticism for some time, i'd imagine. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and not simply because my sensibilities line up with Wolk's on several points (i gotta say i loved his commentary on how many of the best of the so-called art-comics are as crippled by the plague of nostalgia as the worst of superhero books), but also because he adamantly refuses canon and just plain revels in the rapturous beauty of good & trashy comics. Chapter 16 on Grant Morrison is probably the best reading of his major works -- The Invisibles & The Seven Soldiers of Victory -- that I've come across ever.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Northrup

    I read the first 2/3 of this while traveling at Thanksgiving, and then misplaced it for a couple months. This works really well as Comics Crit 101, which is what I was looking for. Many people who already read a lot about comics were underwhelmed, but I needed a starting point and this was very accessible. I've been reading comics for years but never feel qualified to participate in the in-depth discussions that my friends have, and this will help. I've read about 2/3 of what he covers. For the I read the first 2/3 of this while traveling at Thanksgiving, and then misplaced it for a couple months. This works really well as Comics Crit 101, which is what I was looking for. Many people who already read a lot about comics were underwhelmed, but I needed a starting point and this was very accessible. I've been reading comics for years but never feel qualified to participate in the in-depth discussions that my friends have, and this will help. I've read about 2/3 of what he covers. For the stuff I haven't read, I appreciated that it wasn't all browbeating into how a title was brilliant and I absolutely had to read and appreciate it. Some essays reinforced my impression that a title was well done but not for me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Don

    Billed as the first book of comics criticism, which is such a bold statement that one has to wonder if it's actually true ... but that's entirely academic and entirely beside the point, which is this: The book is Amazing. A discussion on the basics of comics, how they work, why we read them, etc; followed by chapter-long reviews of specific authors and works, so compelling and well-reviewed that it makes you want to go out and read every one of them. (This book was responsible for kicking me in Billed as the first book of comics criticism, which is such a bold statement that one has to wonder if it's actually true ... but that's entirely academic and entirely beside the point, which is this: The book is Amazing. A discussion on the basics of comics, how they work, why we read them, etc; followed by chapter-long reviews of specific authors and works, so compelling and well-reviewed that it makes you want to go out and read every one of them. (This book was responsible for kicking me in the ass and finally reading Jimmy Corrigan, for instance.) Highly recommended

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    I plan to read this again after I've read more of the works Wolk mentions, especially those in the second half of the book. I thought Wolk made some generalizations about some of the works I was familiar with that weren't totally accurate and I'm wondering if this is the case for the ones I haven't yet read. The subtitle How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean is somewhat misleading in that the book is not geared for a beginner or a casual comics reader, but rather presupposes the reader come I plan to read this again after I've read more of the works Wolk mentions, especially those in the second half of the book. I thought Wolk made some generalizations about some of the works I was familiar with that weren't totally accurate and I'm wondering if this is the case for the ones I haven't yet read. The subtitle How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean is somewhat misleading in that the book is not geared for a beginner or a casual comics reader, but rather presupposes the reader comes to the book with a pretty good knowledge of comics/graphic novels. Still, I learned a lot from the book.

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