Did you ever wonder who created Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man? Or how did Marvel and DC come to dominate the comic book business?
If so, then you can find the answers to these, and a host of other questions, in Comic Books 101.
In this slick, glossy tome, authors Chris Ryall and Scott Tipton take the reader on a journey through the history of comics, the current crop of comic book companies, the origins and backstories of the most well-known superheroes, the bios of the writers and artists; along with the good, the bad & the ugly of Hollywood adaptations.
They do so by dividing this expansive topic of comics into the following seven parts:
Part I--The Way it Began: The history of comics.
Part II--Breaking it Down: The nuts & bolts of creating a comic.
Part III--Give Me DC: A rundown of DC's line-up of superheroes.
Part IV--Make Mine Marvel: A similar rundown of Marvel's superheroes.
Part V--Around the Four-Colored World: A discussion of several indie comic companies, like: IDW, Dark Horse, Image Comics, Top Shelf Productions, Bone (now Boneville Comics), and even Disney.
Part VI--The Creators: Short bios of the most well-known comic writers and artists.
Part VII--Hooray for Hollywood: The famous and infamous movie and TV adaptations.
Comic Books 101 is based on a compilation of blogposts from Scott Tipton's similarly titled Comics 101 website, and was published in 2009. Their engaging banter is informative, without being pedantic; which is great for newcomers, or for readers with just some "beginner-level" knowledge of the pantheon of superheroes. Their side-bar reminiscing about discovering new comics, conventions and encounters with comics creators, is endearing and demonstrates a life-long love for comics, which shines through in the book's narrative.
The only drawback one might find to Comic Books 101 is that it focuses on superheroes, and only gives passing mention of other genres. Keep in mind though, the comic book medium itself is dominated by superheroes, so it only stands to reason most of Comic Books 101's page space would be devoted to this.
Despite the fact that I hardly read superhero comics, I still found this book entertaining and informative, and so deserves a 4-star rating.
There are currently 14 reviews of Comic Books 101 on Amazon.com, giving it an average of 4.5 out of 5-stars: 9 x 5-stars, 4 x 4-stars and 1 x 2-stars.
While everyone else loved Comic Books 101, the 2-star reviewer felt the book was a "...shallow treatment of comics history..." and that "...there are more comprehensive volumes about comics out there."
I'm a retired USAF TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) member, now working for Washington State Emergency Management. In addition to being an Emergency Operations Specialist at my day/night/weekend job, I'm a Foreign Affairs Specialist, gamer and writer.
I maintain three blogs as an on-line platform. "Stern Rake Studio," my central site, explores a variety of topics on gaming, pop-culture and writing. "Station WTFO" is where I post comments and discussions on the national and international issues that concern us. Finally, "The Redshift Chronicles," is a spin-off of "Stern Rake Studio." This site focuses on sci-fi gaming and is home to my long-form webcomic "Breakout from Bongolaan."