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Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Meanby Douglas Wolk
Synopses & Reviews
The first serious, readable, provocative, canon-smashing book of comics criticism by the leading critic in the field.
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.
"'As the graphic novel flourishes and gains legitimacy as an art form, serious comics criticism is an inevitable byproduct, and PW contributing editor Wolk's analytical discourse is a welcome starting point. The volume contains two sections: 'Theory and History,' an explanation of comics as a medium and an overview of its evolution, and 'Reviews and Commentary,' a diverse examination of creators and works. This section spans Will Eisner's pioneering efforts as well as the groundbreaking modern comics by the Hernandez brothers, Chris Ware and Alison Bechdel. Since there are decades worth of books already focusing on the superhero genre, the raw clay from which the comics industry was built, the relatively short shrift given to the spandex oeuvre's insular mythologies is a wise choice that allows the nonfan a glimpse into the wider range that comics commands. Wolk's insightful observations offer much to ponder, perhaps more than can be fully addressed in one volume, but the thoughtful criticism and knowledgeable historical overview give much-needed context for the emerging medium. B&w illus. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Wolk's tough-love approach is deliciously quotable....You'll find great artwork by Frank Miller, Kevin Huizenga, R. Crumb and Peter Bagge. Perhaps it is greedy to wish for even more." Los Angeles Times
"Armed with Reading Comics...we can live with extra light in the closets and dank basements where the comic books are stored." Oregonian
"Wolk's informed, readable assessment is lucid enough to serve as a primer for neophytes wondering what these graphic novels are all about, yet even the most hard-core comics fans will garner considerable insight from it." Booklist
"The book is like a magnifying glass for looking carefully at comics." Kirkus Reviews
"Wolk makes a likeable and unpretentious guide, never hectoring or waxing polemical, and his enthusiastically imparted knowledge should ensure that readers go on to investigate his recommendations." Times Literary Supplement (UK)
"The fine theory and history section holds plenty of weight for both fan folk and newbies to comics....By contrast, the reviews and commentary section has more value for aficionados." Library Journal
"A diehard comics reader might think the book is written for newbies, but would likely be won over by Wolk's fresh interpretations of classic works. Still, it's the ideal primer for the literate reader who has noticed the recent surge of media attention to comics and graphic novels." Newsday
Critic Wolk illuminates the most dazzling creators of modern comics — from Alan Moore and Alison Bechdel to Dave Sim and Chris Ware — and introduces a critical theory that explains where each fits into the pantheon of art.
The first serious, readable, provocative, canon-smashing book of comics criticism by the leading critic in the field
About the Author
Douglas Wolk writes about comics and music for publications including the New York Times, Rolling Stone, the Washington Post, Salon, and The Believer. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
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