27(-ish) Academic Books on Comics

The Science of Superheroes by Lois Gresh and Robert Weinberg

51KrFaA7YXL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “The truth about superpowers . . . science fact or science fiction? “An entertaining and informative guide to comic book wonders bound to come” Julius Schwartz, Editor Emeritus, DC Comics Superman, Batman, The X-Men, Flash, Spider Man . . . they protect us from evildoers, defend truth and justice, and, occasionally, save our planet from certain doom. Yet, how much do we understand about their powers? In this engaging yet serious work, Lois Gresh and Robert Weinberg attempt to answer that question once and for all. From X-ray vision to psychokinesis, invisibility to lightspeed locomotion, they take a hard, scientific look at the powers possessed by all of our most revered superheroes, and a few of the lesser ones, in an attempt to sort fact from fantasy. In the process, they unearth some shocking truths that will unsettle, alarm, and even terrify all but the most fiendish of supervillains. Lois Gresh (Rochester, NY) has written eight novels and nonfiction books as well as dozens of short stories and has been nominated for national fiction awards six times. Robert Weinberg (Oak Forest, IL) is a multiple award-winning author of novels, nonfiction books, short stories and comics.” http://amzn.to/2nsViO3

The Science of Supervillains by Lois Gresh and Robert Weinberg

511jZT6o5hLDescription from Amazon: “The authors of The Science of Superheroes now reveal the real genius of the most evil geniuses. Ever wonder why comic book villains, such as Spiderman′s bionic archenemy Dr. Octopus or the X–Men′s eternal rival Magneto, are so scary and so much fun? It′s not just their diabolical talent for confounding our heroes, it′s their unrivalled techno–proficiency at creating global mayhem that keeps comic book fans captivated. But is any of the science actually true? In The Science of Supervillains, authors Lois Gresh and Bob Weinberg present a highly entertaining and informative look at the mind–boggling wizardry behind the comic book world′s legendary baddies. Whether it′s artificial intelligence, weapons systems, anti–matter, robotics, or magnetic flux theory, this fun, fact–filled book is a fascinating excursion into the real–world science animating the genius in the comic book world′s pantheon of evil geniuses.” http://amzn.to/2nuQN4C

The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios

6150mja-ESL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “If superheroes stepped off the comic book page, could they actually work their wonders in a world constrained by the laws of physics? How strong would Superman have to be to ‘leap tall buildings in a single bound’? Could Storm of the ‘X-Men’ possibly control the weather? James Kakalios provides an engaging and witty commentary while introducing the lay reader to both classical and cutting-edge concepts in physics, including: what Superman’s strength can tell us about the Newtonian physics of force, mass, and acceleration; what villains like Electro and Magneto tell us about electricity and magnetism; how Iceman’s powers show the principles of thermal dynamics; what the Human Top can tell us about angular momentum; why physics professors gone bad are the most dangerous evil geniuses… and more!” http://amzn.to/2E4SIHc

Webslinger: Unauthorized Essays On Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man by Various

61lvtfwzRTL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “The tangled web of vengeance, love, and loss woven by Spider-Man comics and films is explored in this collection of insightful essays by acclaimed writers of comics and science fiction. A variety of topics—from the superhero’s sarcasm to the science behind radioactive spiders—are discussed in essays on “Turning Rage into Responsibility: A Psychology of Loss,” “Love Is Selfish: Can a Hero Afford Personal Attachments?,” and “Self Identity and Costume Design.” The popular rival Green Goblin, the bumbling-yet-influential media, and the part New York City itself plays in stories are skillfully explored, as is the overall philosophy of mild-mannered Peter Parker and Spidey’s relationship with the rest of the characters in the Marvel universe.” http://amzn.to/2E1KZty

The Man from Krypton: A Closer Look at Superman by Various


Batman Unauthorized: Vigilantes, Jokers, and Heroes in Gotham City by Various

51V8Yq6+2pL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “Batman Unauthorized explores Batman’s motivations and actions, as well as those of his foes. Batman is a creature of the night, more about vengeance than justice, more plagued by doubts than full of self-assurance, and more darkness than light. He has no superpowers, just skill, drive and a really well-made suit. One of the most recognized superheroes ever created, Batman has survived through campy TV shows and films, through actors such as Adam West, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale. Batman Unauthorized: Vigilantes, Jokers, and Heroes in Gotham City covers expansive territory ranging from the silly to the solemn. Why is the Joker so good at pushing Batman’s buttons? What does Batman’s technology say about the times? Why are Batman’s villains crazier than average? And why is Batman the perfect, iconic American hero?” http://amzn.to/2DZSLnM

Superman: A Biography: The Unauthorized Biography by Glen Weldon

41FeI0WgpaL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “A celebration of Superman′s life and history—in time for his 75th birthday How has the Big Blue Boy Scout stayed so popular for so long? How has he changed with the times, and what essential aspects of him have remained constant? This fascinating biography examines Superman as a cultural phenomenon through 75 years of action–packed adventures, from his early years as a social activist in circus tights to his growth into the internationally renowned demigod he is today. Chronicles the ever–evolving Man of Steel and his world—not just the men and women behind the comics, movies and shows, but his continually shifting origin story, burgeoning powers, and the colorful cast of trusted friends and deadly villains that surround him Places every iteration of the Man of Steel into the character′s greater, decades–long story: From Bud Collyer to Henry Cavill, World War II propagandist to peanut butter pitchman, Super Pup to Super Friends , comic strip to Broadway musical, Lori Lemaris to Lois & Clark —it′s all here Affectionate, in–depth analyses of the hero′s most beloved adventures, in and out of the comics—his most iconic Golden Age tales, goofiest Silver Age exploits, and the contemporary film, television, and comics stories that keep him alive today Written by NPR book critic, blogger, and resident comic book expert, Glen Weldon.” http://amzn.to/2DOgJPw

The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture by Glen Weldon

the-caped-crusade-9781476756738_hrDescription from Amazon: “A witty, intelligent cultural history from book critic Glen Weldon explains Batman’s rises and falls throughout the ages and what his story tells us about ourselves. Since his creation, Batman has been many things: a two-fisted detective; a planet-hopping gadabout; a campy Pop-art sensation; a pointy-eared master spy; and a grim and gritty ninja of the urban night. For more than three quarters of a century, he has cycled from a figure of darkness to one of lightness and back again; he’s a bat-shaped Rorschach inkblot who takes on the various meanings our changing culture projects onto him. How we perceive Batman’s character, whether he’s delivering dire threats in a raspy Christian Bale growl or trading blithely homoerotic double-entendres with partner Robin on the comics page, speaks to who we are and how we wish to be seen by the world. It’s this endlessly mutable quality that has made him so enduring. And it’s Batman’s fundamental nerdiness—his gadgets, his obsession, his oath, even his lack of superpowers—that uniquely resonates with his fans who feel a fiercely protective love for the character. Today, fuelled by the internet, that breed of passion for elements of popular culture is everywhere. Which is what makes Batman the perfect lens through which to understand geek culture, its current popularity, and social significance. In The Caped Crusade, with humour and insight, Glen Weldon, book critic and author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, lays out Batman’s seventy-eight-year cultural history and shows how he has helped make us who we are today and why his legacy remains so strong.” http://amzn.to/2E3BSsw

The Many Lives of the Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero and His Media by Various

704587Description from Amazon: “The phenomenal success of Batman: The Movie seemed to signal the apotheosis of the Batman in the American popular imagination. But what social conditions can account for the enduring popularity of such a dark and conflicted character? The Many Lives of the Batman is the first serious academic exploration of this intriguing cultural phenomenon. Marketing savvy alone did not build the Batman’s extraordinary success; it traverses a variety of audiences who have embraced the hero in a collage of different media manifestations throughout his fifty year history. These overlapping lives are illuminated in this critical anthology, which analyzes the contexts of the character’s production and reception across a wide spectrum of time and media forms.” http://amzn.to/2Fyz6Iz

Batman Unmasked: Analysing a Cultural Icon by Will Brooker

81R8qAAD9ELDescription from Amazon: “Over the sixty years of his existence, Batman has encountered an impressive array of cultural icons and has gradually become one himself. This acclaimed book examines what Batman means and has meant to the various audiences, groups and communities who have tried to control and interpret him over the decades. Brooker reveals the struggles over Batman’s meaning by shining a light on the cultural issues of the day that impacted on the development of the character. They include: patriotic propaganda of the Second World War; the accusation that Batman was corrupting the youth of America by appearing to promote a homosexual lifestyle to the fans of his comics; Batman becoming a camp, pop culture icon through the ABC TV series of the sixties; fans’ interpretation of Batman in response to the comics and the Warner Bros. franchise of films.” http://amzn.to/2nuZV99

Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight by Travis Langely

13838389Description from Amazon: “A journey behind the mask and into the mind of Gotham City s Caped Crusader, timed for the summer 2012 release of The Dark Knight Rises Batman is one of the most compelling and enduring characters to come from the Golden Age of Comics, and interest in his story has only increased through countless incarnations since his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. Why does this superhero without superpowers fascinate us? What does that fascination say about us? Batman and Psychology explores these and other intriguing questions about the masked vigilante, including: Does Batman have PTSD? Why does he fight crime? Why as a vigilante? Why the mask, the bat, and the underage partner? Why are his most intimate relationships with bad girls he ought to lock up? And why won′t he kill that homicidal, green–haired clown? Gives you fresh insights into the complex inner world of Batman and Bruce Wayne and the life and characters of Gotham City Explains psychological theory and concepts through the lens of one of the world s most popular comic book characters Written by a psychology professor and Superherologist (scholar of superheroes).” http://amzn.to/2GyuJin

The Superhero Costume by Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon

9781472595935Description from Amazon: “Costume defines the superhero, disguising and distinguishing him or her from the civilian alter ego. The often garish garb expresses a hero’s otherness and empowers its wearers to seek a primal form of justice. This book provides the first interdisciplinary analysis of the superhero costume and investigates wide-ranging issues such as identity, otherness, ritual dress and disguise. Analysis focuses on the implications of wearing superhero costume, exploring interpretations of the costumed hero and the extent to which the costume defines his or her role. Using examples across various media (comic books, film, and television) with case studies including The X-Men, Watchmen, real-life superheroes such as Phoenix Jones and Pussy Riot, and audience activities such as cosplay, The Superhero Costume presents new perspectives on the increasingly popular genre. A lively and thorough account of superhero fashions throughout history, The Superhero Costume will be essential reading for students of visual culture, popular culture, fashion and cultural studies.” http://amzn.to/2EsnYhd

Comics for Film, Games, and Animation: Using Comics to Construct Your Transmedia Storyworld by Taylor Weaver

6OkIYwr5iDZR1R8ME7s0lTl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVvK0kTmF0xjctABnaLJIm9Description from Amazon: “Writers, directors, and producers― reach a wider audience by embracing comics to supplement your own ideas, and offer more options for audience engagement. Comics are a key element in today’s convergence culture. From their use in video games, like Batman: Arkham City and the Halo series to their use in films like Star Trek and The Incredibles, comics have proven an invaluable method for creators to expand their storyworld and provide audiences with irresistible gateways into the story. Tyler Weaver teaches you how to integrate comic storytelling into your own transmedia work by exploring their past, present, and future. He discusses the creation of the unique mythologies in comic stories and digs into the details of comic construction, from pacing to scripting to collaboration. Chapters on convergence and mythology building: Comics have endured because of their expansive and exciting mythologies. How can you apply that to your own work? Interviews with key practitioners and artists in the field, bringing a personal look into how professionals do their work. The companion website features a blog with new projects and advancements in digital comics, expanded interviews, script templates, and listings of independent artists.” http://amzn.to/2nv9k0x

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud

102920Description from Amazon: “Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics is a seminal examination of comics art: its rich history, surprising technical components, and major cultural significance. Explore the secret world between the panels, through the lines, and within the hidden symbols of a powerful but misunderstood art form.” http://amzn.to/2rSVxGu

Reinventing Comics: How Imagination And Technology Are Revolutionizing An Art Form by Scott McCloud

Reinventing_Comics_(Scott_McCloud_book)_cover_artDescription from Amazon: “In 1993, Scott McCloud tore down the wall between high and low culture with the acclaimed international hit Understanding Comics, a massive comic book that explored the inner workings of the worlds most misunderstood art form. Now, McCloud takes comics to the next level, charting twelve different revolutions in how comics are created, read, and perceived today.Part One of this fascinating and in-depth book includes: The life of comics as an art form and as literature. The battle for creators’ rights. Reinventing the business of comics. The volatile and shifting public perceptions of comics. Sexual and ethnic representation on comics. Then in Part Two, McCloud paints a breathtaking picture of comics’ digital revolutions, including: The intricacies of digital production. The exploding world of online delivery. The ultimate challenges of the infinite digital canvas.” http://amzn.to/2DQYngH

Filmish: A Graphic Journey Through Film by Edward Ross

61gJiZs1Y1L._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “Edinburgh-based cartoonist Edward Ross uses comics to illuminate the ideas behind our favourite films. In Filmish, Ross’s cartoon alter-ego guides readers through the annals of cinematic history, introducing us to some of the strange and fascinating concepts at work in the movies. Each chapter focuses on a particular theme – the body, architecture, language – and explores an eclectic mix of cinematic triumphs, from A Trip to the Moon to Aliens. Sitting within the tradition of bestselling non-fiction graphic novels like Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and the Introducing… series, Filmish tackles serious issues – sexuality, race, censorship, propaganda – with authority and wit, throwing new light on some of the greatest films ever made. http://amzn.to/2rXBuXu

Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels by Scott McCloud

02-making-comics-mccloudDescription from Amazon: “Scott McCloud tore down the wall between high and low culture in 1993 with Understanding Comics, a massive comic book about comics, linking the medium to such diverse fields as media theory, movie criticism, and web design. In Reinventing Comics, McCloud took this to the next level, charting twelve different revolutions in how comics are generated, read, and perceived today. Now, in Making Comics, McCloud focuses his analysis on the art form itself, exploring the creation of comics, from the broadest principles to the sharpest details (like how to accentuate a character’s facial muscles in order to form the emotion of disgust rather than the emotion of surprise.) And he does all of it in his inimitable voice and through his cartoon stand–in narrator, mixing dry humor and legitimate instruction. McCloud shows his reader how to master the human condition through word and image in a brilliantly minimalistic way. Both comic book devotees and the uninitiated will marvel at this journey into a once–underappreciated art form.” http://amzn.to/2E09RBT

How Comics Work by Dave Gibbons and Tim Pilcher

61znQRt49aL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “A masterclass taught by Britain’s first Comics Laureate , Dave Gibbons, this is the most authoritative guide on how comics are made today. Packed full of rare and unpublished material from Gibbons’ archive it reveals insider tips on how comics such as 2000 AD and Watchmen were made. Written in collaboration with award-winning writer and editor Tim Pilcher, this unique guide takes you through each stage of the comic’s creation process, from scriptwriting, to moving through character and superhero design, to lettering and colouring and finally on to covers and logo design. Throughout this insightful course are real-life examples of Gibbons’ art, revealing how he solved actual problems with practical solutions, and unique behind-the-scenes insights into the creative process. Learn the stages of layout and page planning through the initial designs of Give Me Liberty; discover Gibbons handy tips for lettering using never-before-seen examples from The Originals; and find out the secrets of successful writing with sample scripts from The World’s Finest and The Secret Service.” http://amzn.to/2BGWIbR

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe

51uYeSf5bOL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “In the early 1960s, Marvel Comics introduced a series of bright-costumed superhero characters—including Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and the Amazing Spider-Man—that would evolve into a modern American mythology for millions of readers. Over the last half-century, these characters have been passed along among generations of brilliant editors, artists, and writers who struggled with commercial mandates, a fickle audience, and, over matters of credit and control, one another. Written by Sean Howe, former comic book reviewer and editor at Entertainment Weekly, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is a gripping narrative of one of the most extraordinary, beloved, and beleaguered pop cultural entities in America’s history.” http://amzn.to/2DQ0kOx

The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How it Changed America by David Hajidu

ten centDescription from Amazon: “In the years between the end of World War II and the mid-1950s, American popular culture was first created in the pulpy, boldly illustrated pages of comic books. But no sooner had comics emerged than they were beaten down by mass bonfires, congressional hearings, and a McCarthyish panic over their unmonitored and uncensored content. Esteemed critic David Hajdu vividly evokes the rise, fall, and rise again of comics, in this engrossing history” http://amzn.to/2DRuIbm

Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor

61gkssY3CKL._AA300_Description from Amazon: “Together again for the first time, here come the greatest comic book superheroes ever assembled between two covers:  down from the heavens Superman and the Mighty Thor or swinging over rooftops the Batman and Spider-Man; star-spangled, like Captain America and Wonder Woman, or clad in darkness, like the Shadow and Spawn; facing down super-villains on their own, like the Flash and the Punisher or gathered together in a team of champions, like the Avengers and the X-Men! Based on the three-part PBS documentary series Superheroes, this companion volume chronicles the never-ending battle of the comic book industry, its greatest creators, and its greatest creations.  Covering the effect of superheroes on American culture in print, on film and television, and in digital media and the effect of American culture on its superheroes, Superheroes: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture appeals to readers of all ages, from the casual observer of the phenomenon to the most exacting fan of the genre. Drawing from more than 50 new interviews conducted expressly for Superheroes! creators from Stan Lee to Grant Morrison, commentators from Michael Chabon to Jules Feiffer, actors from Adam West to Lynda Carter, and filmmakers such as Zach Snyder this is an up-to-the-minute narrative history of the superhero, from the comic strip adventurers of the Great Depression, up to the blockbuster CGI movie superstars of the 21st Century.  Featuring more than 500 full-color comic book panels, covers, sketches, photographs of both essential and rare artwork, Superheroes is the definitive story of this powerful presence in pop culture.” http://amzn.to/2E0a9Jg

Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society by Danny Fingeroth

518Vc8rcPqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “With its roots in ancient mythologies and modern obsessions, the idea of the superhero is one that permeates our entertainment as well as our daily lives. This book examines how the key superhero archetypes – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman etc. – touch primal needs and experiences in Western culture.” http://amzn.to/2Fx9XhG

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed by Brian Cronin

61qFdXFsecL._SX350_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “Was Superman a Spy? demystifies all of the interesting stories, unbelievable anecdotes, wacky rumors, and persistent myths that have piled up like priceless back issues in the seventy-plus years of the comic book industry, including: Elvis Presley’s trademark hairstyle was based on a comic book character (True). Stan Lee featured a gay character in one of Marvel’s 1960s war comics (False). Wolverine of the X-Men was originally meant to be an actual wolverine! (True). What would have been DC’s first black superhero was changed at the last moment to a white hero (True). A Dutch inventor was blocked from getting a patent on a process because it had been used previously in a Donald Duck comic book (True). With many more legends resolved, Was Superman a Spy? is a must-have for the legions of comic book fans and all seekers of “truth, justice, and the American way.” http://amzn.to/2nudaan

War, Politics and Superheroes: Ethics and Propaganda in Comics and Film by Marc DiPaolo

111673_s0Description from Amazon: “Superhero adventure comics have a long history of commenting upon American public opinion and government policy, and surge in the popularity of comics since the events of September 11, 2001, ensures their continued relevance. This critical text examines the seventy-year history of comic book superheroes on film and in comic books and their reflections of the politics of their time. Superheroes addressed include Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Superman, the Invisible Woman and the X-Men, and topics covered include American wars, conflicts, and public policy.” http://amzn.to/2E2NP1u

The Supergirls: Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines by Mike Madrid

51gWPpBpr5L._SX365_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “Mike Madrid has become known as a champion of women in comics and as the expert in Golden Age female characters. And now here is where it all began, as informative and entertaining as ever, in a revised and updated edition, including new illustrations and a new introduction, as well as an afterword bringing us up-to-date on what’s happening with women in comics now.” http://amzn.to/2FuMGwA

The Essential Guide to World Comics by Tim Pilcher and Brad Brooks

61NPKS977NL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Description from Amazon: “Most people’s perception of comicbooks is one of superheroes like Spider-Man and Batman. But it belies an art form that is not unique to the UK and USA. Practically every country in the world has its own thriving comicbook industry. In some countries like France, they are a highly regarded form of expression – The Ninth Art. While in Japan, comics are so integral to its culture and society that it would be impossible to imagine the country without them. The cultural impact of comics cannot be underestimated. Did you know that sales of Mexico’s leading comic outstrip those of the country’s bestselling daily newspaper by six to one? Or that comicbooks are often used to convey a very serious message (only recently a comic featuring Superman was distributed to 500,000 children in Kosovo to teach them how to spot and avoid land mines)? Arranged geographically, this book assesses the medium in every major area of the world, discussing the history of the genre, the comics and characters, the publishers, creators and artists. Regions covered include the UK and United States, central Europe (France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy), Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Japan and Asia, Africa, India, Central and South America, and Australasia. Including key feature spreads and a wealth of colour images – many of them unseen – this book is the first of its kind to provide a global picture of an often-underrated art form.” http://amzn.to/2DTimiX

Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen by Various

6full500Description from Amazon: “MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT examines WATCHMEN from a variety of perspectives and uncovers surprising answers about the history of scientific theory, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, WATCHMEN’s murder mystery, Rorschach and Steve Ditko, the secrets of Captain Metropolis and the Minutemen, whether the Comedian was right, who shouldn’t read WATCHMEN, and how the motion picture adaptation illuminates the original text. From Sequart Research & Literacy Organization.” http://amzn.to/2DPPcgB


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