Comics : Comic Characters (Wow! Facts)
This review was first published on: Dec 2015.
This is a children's book published in England as part of the "Wow! Facts" series.
Comic Characters (Wow! Facts)
Oct 2014 : Review (No SM)
Find ISBN 9781784640361
Summary: Children's Book about the History of Comics (UK)
The book is 5.8" x 8.3", 32 full-color pages with a square-bound glossy cover.
The story outlines the history of comics from a UK point of view, beginning with their origins as single-panel cartoons in Victorian broadsheets, and then to Popeye in the U.S in 1929. At this point, the story takes a uniquely British turn and features classic UK magazines "The Dandy" and "The Beano", and the major star of British Comic books – Dennis The Menace.
From here we skip back across the Atlantic to the United States, covering Batman, Superman, Horror Comics, and the subsequent reign of the Comics Code Authority. The glorious rise of Marvel Comics is the next major point, with particular mention of Spider-Man (described as "Marvel's most famous creation").
The story finishes with a mention of the current proliferation of super-heroes movies, and a discussion of digital comics (the comics of the future).
Despite the references to Popeye, DC, and Marvel, the book has a strong slant towards the British view of comic books. If this book were written by an American, I suspect the UK wouldn't even get a mention!
The version of events is (quite naturally) brutally truncated and incomplete. Stan Lee isn't mentioned by name. In fact no real person is mentioned by name. Other than mentioning the chilling effects of the CCA, there's no reference at all to the multiple occasions on which the entire comics industry tottered on the edge of collapse.
But I guess that's perfectly understandable – writing a global history of comic books in 1,500 words can't be an easy task!
This is the first such book I've ever encountered which attempts a non-fiction discussion of the origins of comic books at a junior reader's level.
As an adult reader and aficionado of comic book history, it's very easy to focus on the myriad of fascinating details which are not included. It takes a conscious effort to readjust my view of this book to instead concentrate on the seven interesting topics which have been included.
I know just how hard it can be to get young kids interested in books. Girls are easily lured by "pony stories" and "babysitter club". But getting an eight year old boy to pick up a book of his own accord is a more challenging task indeed.
Books like this are a vital tool in that struggle to get kids reading. We need more of them.