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Friday, February 17, 2006

Great American Comic Books, Published by Publications International, Ltd., 344 Pages, Prices Vary

Ron Goulart is the author of an incredibly informative and fun (that's right, FUN) history book published in 2001 called Great American Comic Books. What, you never considered the world of comics having a history? You'd be shocked, my friend, at what an interesting, and colorful (pun intended) history it is. You see, Goulart doesn't just cover the progression of the genre, from collections of comic strip reprints, to the first comics containing original stories containing pulp heroes, the emergence of super heroes, the age of crime comics, horror comics, etc., etc. He also includes details of many creators, themselves. People such as Major Malcom Wheeler-Nicholson, a retired cavalry officer who founded the company today known as D.C. Comics. Stories such as his prove the point that reality is sometimes as interesting as fiction.

Goulart also sheds light on important events in the history of comics, such as the flames of the "anti-comic hysteria" of the '50's, which were fanned by injurious articles in magazines such as Collier's, Saturday Review, Newsweek and Time, as well as blunt criticism from psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, in his book Seduction of The Innocent. Not to mention the Senate hearings to which it all eventually led.

Perhaps even more entertaining, however, are the hundreds of color illustrations of strips, panels and covers Goulart includes in his book. A fan can easily get caught up in them, alone. This is far more, however, than reference material. It is to be read and enjoyed, that one may, hopefully, better appreciate the progression of comics themselves.

Great American Comic Books is recommended for anyone interested, not just in the history of the genre, but the genre in general. I can sum it up no better than a blurb from the description on the dust jacket: "It's as much fun as comic books themselves!"

Now out of print, shop bookstores and online retailers and auctions for the best deals.

Mark Allen