500 Great Comicbook Action Heroes: A Graphic History – Mike Conroy

500 Great Comicbook Action HeroesThis is a very thick book packed with facts, figures, dates and history. It is unfortunately mind numbingly boring. If you use it as a reference book to look up the potted history of a character or occasionally browse some of the more in-depth articles on the history of comics it is fine. Five minute chunks here and there are ok. If you try and read more the giant slabs of text and monotone commentary proves unpalatable.

For a book dealing with visual media there are no helpful timelines or other snazzy graphics to make the facts more digestible. There are a lot of comic covers however and pre-internet this would have been a great chance to see rare art you never would.

The chapters start with male heroes at 193 pages and get progressively shorter as they go through female heroes, teams, newspaper heroes, war heroes, western heroes and sci-fi heroes. There is also a 30 page introduction that takes you through the history of comics.

Good for research but dull as ditchwater.

No thumbs.

War Comics: A Graphic History – Mike Conroy

War Comics A Graphic HistoryThis book presents a potted history and whistle stop tour of war comics spanning almost a century. Highlighting both World Wars as well as Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East in addition to more ancient and modern battles it reveals the true extent of this massive genre.

As this is such a huge field there is very little time to stop and explore at your own pace. As if on a coach tour that never stops you can only look out the window as title after title passes you by. However, Conroy does a good job of selecting both the typical and the quirky from many decades of publication both American and British and there will probably be many titles you are curious to find out more about.

This isn’t a dry academic work and it is hard to find a single page without an illustration as both covers and strips are reproduced. Because space is at a premium you do have to squint at several of the smaller offerings but everything is readable.

Whether specifically interested in war and war comics or just comics in general this is an eye opening read. Many of the comic industry’s well known writers and artists contributed to war comics and often served in wars themselves informing their experiences.

Thumbs Up!