iFanboy Video Podcast

iFanboy #120 – Big Books About Comics

Show Notes

Books about comics are in no short supply. Stacked in thick, heavy piles in your local bookstores, these impressive volumes are very often given to comic readers at the holidays. “We know you like Spider-Man, so we got you this…” But rather than induce eye-rolling, a lot of these kinds of books can be a whole lot of information, and a whole lot of fun.

This week, Ron, Josh, and Conor take a look at some of their favorite giant books about comic books, such as the DC Vault, Marvel Chronicle, Watching the Watchmen, an encyclopedia of comics from Dark Horse, and even one that has Stan Lee talk to you, among others.

Stock your shelves, or perhaps your bathroom, while learning all about the history behind the stories with some of these great big books about comics.


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  1. Oh my god….that Batman Animated Series book and the Stan Lee commentary book…..*drools* Great for completely different reasons. The BTAS book is just great because it’s just a huge retrospective of the series. If you love that cartoon (and who doesnt?) it’s a must have. For that Stan Lee audio book; man I had so much fun reading and listening on what Stan Lee remembers about the important moments of Marvel. I need to find another copy though; cause I think the voice chip broke for my copy….

    Three books that werent mentioned but are equally as great:

    Spider-Man: The Icon (A retrospective of Spider-Man from his creation to modern day. It has many pages referencing his toys, memorabilia, important story arcs, and tv/film franchises.)

    Kirby: King of Comics (Been mentioned a lot but obviously a must have for anyone interested in the greatest artist to ever make comics)

    Mythology (A mini-biography of sorts for artist Alex Ross. I’m an uber Ross fan so I am a bit bias on this. But it’s great to see the process of how he does his work; and a great insight on some his most famous peices of artwork. I hope someday we do get a whole book dedicated to all of work in one big book. Maybe like: Complete Alex Ross Covers….or something)

  2. Marvel Chronice is a FANTASTIC book. Even after over two decades of comic fandom, I still learned a lot from that book.

  3. Damn, I really need to get these. I remember having a tiny one for Spider-man (one of those short ones made for elementary school kids).

  4. HOLY. SHIT!
    I HAVE THAT WATCHMEN BOOK CHECKED OUT FROM THE LIBRARY! It’s amazing! This book helped me understand the comic book production process a little more.

    By the way I really got back into Marvel because of that Ultimate X-men Encyclopedia in 2001 during middleschool.

  5. edit: =| I meant 2000.

  6. Great show guys.

    I got the Marvel Vault book as a gift and I love it. I didn’t realize there was a DC version as well. I want to get that and the Batman Animated book which also looks awesome.

  7. I haven’t watched the episode yet but I hope the book Comic Wars by Dan Raviv.  I believe it is essential reading for ALL comic fans.


    the Tiki 

  8. Great show and great books.

  9. Great episode – I am as much a junkie for these kinds of books as I am for comics themselves. And the discount tables/racks at the big box book stores are often a gold mine for these kinds of things. In the last year, I’ve picked up the Super Villian book, the Comic Book Encyclopedia, that Stan Lee talking book, the DK Wonder Woman book, and the Marvel Vault. Although, it must be said, I’ve paid full retail for the Marvel, DC and Vertigo encyclopedias and the Marvel Chronicles, so I’ve paid my fair share.

    Also don’t forget the TwoMorrows books – the Image and Flash books are among the best behind-the-scenes books I’ve read about comics. 

  10. @Tiki – There was a Mini on Comic Wars.  And I would disagree about the essential nature of that work. Some people just want to read comic stories, not know every backroom dealing.

    Also, I’ve had the book for years, and haven’t read it.

  11. I haven’t had a chance to watch the ep yet, but I’d like to recommend "Kimota" which chronicles the history of Miracleman and all the mess surrounding the character, including interviews with everyone involved.  Even if you’ve never read a single panel of Marvelman/Mircleman, it’s utterly fascinating.  It’s probably out of print now, but you can find copies on eBay.

  12. I picked up the Chipp Kidd Alex Ross book a few years back.  Lots of supplemental material for all of his series.  It’s pretty bad ass. 


    I don’t know if it’s just where I live or not but I rarely see these things on the cheap book piles here.  It’s alwas amazing to me to make a trip to the States and see books that are $50 here selling for $7 in the US.

  13. Yap. Very expensive and here it’s mostly just books about the development of manga or European comics over the years. The European stuff looks good but costs an arm and a leg.

  14. Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    Good show, guys.  I liked Josh’s bemused face as Ron and Conor have a little Star Wars geek moment about three minutes in.

    I was hoping you’d talk about more books dealing with the history of the publishers of comics or comic book creators, like "The Comic Book Heroes" by Gerald Jones and Will Jacobs or "Comic Book Nation" by Bradford W. Wright.  Ah well.  The stuff you did talk about was interesting.

  15. @JeffR: Those books aren’t "big books".

  16. Nice, I think I have the Star Wars one you guys mentioned too, I love it!  Also have the Batman Encyclopedia that came out last year, which I actually do reference when I’m reading the comics, and I find myself just reading pages at a time.  Fun stuff!

  17. "Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan" is another interesting one. I am not a fan of Manga, but I love Batman.

  18. Enjoyed the show, I like fandom books too, plus I agree one of the draws in these books is better production values and the artwork pops, so always a draw (no pun intended). 

    I’d mention the big book: The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book, Black Bay Books publisher, huge size & if you just want an overview of Crumb’s works, plus colorized versions of some of them, this is a great one.

    From Aargh! to Zap!  Harvey Kurtzman’s Visual History of the Comics A Byron Preiss Book, probably oop, but big sized and nice colors and overview of comics.

    The Comic Book in America: An Illustrated History by Mike Benton–he put out a series of these by books, one on SF, and others too, this one is an overview of the history of comics, covers DC & Marvel, but also Golden Age and humor books like Bob Hope or Jerry Lewis, Dennis the Menace and stuff like that. Probably not essential, but nice color covers.

    The same could be said for Over 50 Years of American Comic Books by Ron Goulart, but maybe better than the above at covering odd comics: Spin & Marty Walt Disney comics, Beany & Cecil, EC comics, and etc.

    Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics by Frederik L. Schodt–overview of Manga comics

    A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics Edited by Michael Barrier & Martin Williams–presents classic creators and full color reproductions of some comic stories like Little Lulu, Pogo, The Spirit, Captain Marvel, Basil Wolverton, and others.

    The New Comic Anthology Edited by Bob Callahan–overview of indie/alt cartoonist and strips by them, perhaps doesn’t exactly fit in the Big Book catagory, but maybe a topic for another videocast.

  19. only half way through, but surprised that it looks like both the DC and marvel encyclopedias were not mentioned……

  20. Those DK Ultimate Guide books basically pulled me back into comics. I read them in the early 2000’s and got excited about comics again. The ones I had were X-Men, Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The knowledge cultivated from these books made me seem like king of the comic nerds, back in that day. I wonder if those have been updated and are still around? I think I want to check out Marvel Chronicles, as well, and some books to give me more knowledge on DC.

  21. Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    @psyguy411:  DK tends to release updated editions of their books every few years, but only for a few titles.  I’m assuming they do so based on if the last edition sold well and if there’s a new movie coming out.  For instance, they re-released "Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide" in Spring, 2007 just before "Spider-Man 3" hit theaters.  The same goes for the last X-Men and Superman films.

  22. @JeffR.  I have the same observation with DK Publishing and I am reluctant to buy any of these big-books for that reason.  I don’t want to buy an "ultimate guide" knowing that they will release an update (with a few added pages) two years later.  As suggested by Ron @ iFanboy, I wrote to DK Publishing about what I have in mind.  I suggested that they release the books based on decades.  (For example: Spiderman in the 80s) That way each release will have new content as opposed to just a few updated pages.
    Haven’t heard from them.  They probably trashed my idea in the can.  

  23. Awesome show

    The book that came out when I was born: Amazing Spider-Man 252 first apperance of the Black Costume in Amazing.  I own two copies, overkill? I don’t think so.

  24. Great show guys. I always got books about indie stuff and drawing comics when I was a kid. Specifically, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way and the Robotech Art books. Which leads me to my question.

    Could there be an addendum to this video about books about the ceation of comics. You could mention Marvel Way, the Will Eisner and Scott McCloud books, but I wonder if there are any other recommendations in this area?

    Also, just wanted to mention The Jack Kirby Collector, published by Two Morrows. Techncally not a book since it’s an ongoing magazine, but it has a lot of great articles about Kirby and the early days of comics plus beautiful reproductions of Kirby’s original pencils which amazed me at how much better they were than the inked and colored versions we get in the published works. 

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