American Comics: A History

Norton. Nov. 2021. 496p. ISBN 9780393635607. $25. LIT
Comics and cartoons play a major role in everyday American life. However, no one has ever tied this history closer to societal events and told it in a more sweeping manner than Dauber (Yiddish language, literature, and culture, Columbia Univ.; Jewish Comedy) has done in this latest work. Dauber’s history of comics begins in the mid-1800s, examining the role of artists such as Thomas Nast, who sold his drawings depicting political issues to a few of the original American weeklies, including Harper’s. These depictions evolved into comic strips that told stories and introduced new characters, like Superman, heroes who could save the world from evil. As Dauber recounts, these comic strips soon appeared in popular magazines and weekend editions of newspapers. The author effectively tells how several recent blockbuster films are based on comic book narratives and relays the history of graphic novels as a popular medium. Charts and illustrations will draw in readers and help them keep track of the numerous comic book characters, titles, and plot lines that Dauber mentions.
VERDICT There are several recent histories of comics; however, none are as comprehensive or well-researched as this one. Dauber’s book sets itself apart, and comics enthusiasts will be enthralled.
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