Best Books On Comics


I’ve always been a secret comic book lover, but I find many titles a struggle now because I feel like I’ve read the stories before. Too many are over-worthy or in trying to be ‘edgy’ actually lack a genuinely original edge, so anything that can guide me through the choice is good. The UK is squeamish about reading comics, yet produces a huge amount of work for the US, where it seems nearly all of the comics are written by British authors. I’ve worked for DC Comics and every now and again they ask me for idea, but it’s difficult finding what might appeal.

Cinemas are saturated with comic book adaptations, a few good, many now increasingly repetitive and obscure. Watching the Superman VS Batman trailer filled me with boredom, but I’m not the target audience. And there’s a world of comics out there. Here are three good guides to choosing comics from the past and present, from the UK and around the globe…

1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die is a brilliant primer to the classic benchmark-raising volumes that changed the graphic novels game from something for kiddies to thoughtful and powerful adult pieces from Maus to Mobius to Moore. There are a lot of titles in it I’ve not heard of, but which look genuinely fascinating.

True Brit reveals why British writers are so popular in this field, with examples of mature art and muscular writing. And A Very Funny Business is a nostalgia-fest with classic funnies from Leo Baxendale, Ken Reid and others. Reid remains my favourite artist from childhood, and I wish someone would gather together all of his artwork in a book.

With the dominance of Marvel and DC in the cinematic version field, it’s a shame that more of these other innovative graphic novels and strips haven’t been considered from a lateral point of view and reinvented for new audiences in film versions.


5 comments on “Best Books On Comics”

  1. dave says:

    I love comics / graphic novels and there are so many that are truly great reading experiences.

    However, the one I enjoy and admire the most remains ‘The Sandman’ by Neil Gaiman. Terrific series of stories, great pen and artwork – and he has, after many years, just released the prequel to the original series.

  2. keith page says:

    One of the finest comics is ‘Zenith’ by Grant Morrison.And of course the ‘Charley’s War’ series by Pat Mills.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    If you’d like to see that work gathered and published couldn’t you do it yourself? It would certainly be something totally different for you.

  4. Reuben says:

    Despite the title the Paul Gravatt book is very good as is the True Brit one (though out of print still easy to find a copy online- prices vary a bit).
    Ken Reid’s work regularly features on Lew Stringer’s wonderful British comics blog. You may loose several hours reliving your childhood, Admin.

  5. dave says:

    Talking of graphic novels, any chance of a follow-up to THE CASEBOOK OF BRYANT AND MAY: THE SOHO DEVIL?

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