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Masters of American Comics

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Comic strips and comic books were among the most popular and influential forms of mass media in 20thcentury America. This fascinating book focuses on fifteen pioneering cartoonists—ranging from Winsor McCay to Chris Ware—who brought this genre to the highest level of artistic expression and who had the greatest impact on the development of the form.Organized chronologicall Comic strips and comic books were among the most popular and influential forms of mass media in 20thcentury America. This fascinating book focuses on fifteen pioneering cartoonists—ranging from Winsor McCay to Chris Ware—who brought this genre to the highest level of artistic expression and who had the greatest impact on the development of the form.Organized chronologically, Masters of American Comics explores the rise of newspaper comic strips and comic books and considers their artistic development throughout the century. Presenting a wide selection of original drawings as well as progressive proofs, vintage printed Sunday pages, and comic books themselves, the authors also look at how the art of comics was transformed by artistic innovation as well as by changes in popular taste, economics, and printing conventions.First appearing in newspaper Sunday supplements, the comic strip became immediately successful and created the largest audience of any medium of its time. The comic book first began as a way to print existing newspaper comics, then subsequently established the mass popularity of superheroes in the 1940s and 1950s before it matured as a vehicle for independent personal expression in the underground comic books and graphic novels of the 1960s.Included in the book are insightful and entertaining essays on individual artists written by major figures in the fields of comics, narrative illustration, literature, popular culture, and art history. Masters of American Comics convincingly positions the genre of comics into the history of art and is destined to become a classic text for years to come.


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Comic strips and comic books were among the most popular and influential forms of mass media in 20thcentury America. This fascinating book focuses on fifteen pioneering cartoonists—ranging from Winsor McCay to Chris Ware—who brought this genre to the highest level of artistic expression and who had the greatest impact on the development of the form.Organized chronologicall Comic strips and comic books were among the most popular and influential forms of mass media in 20thcentury America. This fascinating book focuses on fifteen pioneering cartoonists—ranging from Winsor McCay to Chris Ware—who brought this genre to the highest level of artistic expression and who had the greatest impact on the development of the form.Organized chronologically, Masters of American Comics explores the rise of newspaper comic strips and comic books and considers their artistic development throughout the century. Presenting a wide selection of original drawings as well as progressive proofs, vintage printed Sunday pages, and comic books themselves, the authors also look at how the art of comics was transformed by artistic innovation as well as by changes in popular taste, economics, and printing conventions.First appearing in newspaper Sunday supplements, the comic strip became immediately successful and created the largest audience of any medium of its time. The comic book first began as a way to print existing newspaper comics, then subsequently established the mass popularity of superheroes in the 1940s and 1950s before it matured as a vehicle for independent personal expression in the underground comic books and graphic novels of the 1960s.Included in the book are insightful and entertaining essays on individual artists written by major figures in the fields of comics, narrative illustration, literature, popular culture, and art history. Masters of American Comics convincingly positions the genre of comics into the history of art and is destined to become a classic text for years to come.

30 review for Masters of American Comics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    Warning: this is a big heavy art book; it's not for reading in bed, or on the bus. You will need to make time to peruse it at a substantial, well-lighted table or desk, but it's worth the effort. The catalogue of a 2005 exhibit at MOCA, it spans both comic strips and comic books, and features an excellent selection of artists ranging chronologically from Winsor McCay to Chris Ware and stylistically from Charles Schultz to Gary Panter. The first half of the book is the best part, a long survey es Warning: this is a big heavy art book; it's not for reading in bed, or on the bus. You will need to make time to peruse it at a substantial, well-lighted table or desk, but it's worth the effort. The catalogue of a 2005 exhibit at MOCA, it spans both comic strips and comic books, and features an excellent selection of artists ranging chronologically from Winsor McCay to Chris Ware and stylistically from Charles Schultz to Gary Panter. The first half of the book is the best part, a long survey essay by John Carlin accompanying substantial excerpts from the comics themselves. Carlin does a great job of putting each artist in context both within the time period in which the work appeared and within the overall history of comics. And the comic reproductions are well chosen to spotlight the artwork while also demonstrating how it functions as part of the narrative whole. All of the work included is interesting and well presented but I found the sections on the early newspaper strips (McCay, Herriman, Feininger, E.C. Seegar and Frank King)particularly fascinating, maybe because it was less familiar. I'm a long-time Gasoline Alley fan but the strips from the 20s and 30s were a revalation; I had no idea it ever looked like that. The short essays on individual artists in the second part of the book are uneven in quality and the reproductions lean heavily on out-of-context splash pages and cover art, making this section of the book generally less interesting. But overall this is a great introduction to a broad range of some of the best American comics and their creators.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael P.

    One way to state the intellectual quality of this book is to say it was published by Yale University Press, and they were not slumming. It is the first I have seen to evaluate comic art in the context of twentieth century fine art. By surveying only the best, they find several who are deemed to rank as fine modern artists. Not every ranks so highly, the writers admit, so E. C. Segar and Chester Gould, for example, are included for their influence of comic strips. Overall, very well done, though One way to state the intellectual quality of this book is to say it was published by Yale University Press, and they were not slumming. It is the first I have seen to evaluate comic art in the context of twentieth century fine art. By surveying only the best, they find several who are deemed to rank as fine modern artists. Not every ranks so highly, the writers admit, so E. C. Segar and Chester Gould, for example, are included for their influence of comic strips. Overall, very well done, though some of the individual essays are uneven. Matt Groening’s on Gary Panter is biographical and not insightful and Raymond Pettibon’s on Will Eisner is a mere exercise in Pettibon’s overwhelming ego. Most, such as that by Jules Feiffer on E. C. Segar and Karal Ann Marling on Frank King are very fine indeed, as is the half-book length introduction by John Carlin.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Northpapers

    An informative, artfully assembled walk through the history of American comics. I was unaware of how rich the early history of newspaper funnies was, and when and why they evolved into what they are today. Writers like Jonathan Safran Foer and David Eggers compose lively reviews of the importance and impact of the comic artists they love.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mike Horne

    This book is the catalogue of an exhibition with with Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. It does a great job of providing art work and articles (by important comic book artists) of everyone from Winsor McCay, George Herriman, Will Eisner, to Chris Ware. A nice introduction to comics.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Hayton

    This would have been the book that changed my life, if I hadn't quit on my life. Winsor McKay ought to be embraced as the father of modernism.

  6. 4 out of 5

    James

    So glad I could be a part of this landmark exhibition.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maya

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joel Priddy

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gert Van eechoute

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kent Kleinowski

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sherrie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan Price

  15. 5 out of 5

    John

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kate Merriman

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Flick

  22. 4 out of 5

    Casey

  23. 4 out of 5

    Peyton

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adam Janusz

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karl Hickey

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robin Goodfellow

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark Schomburg

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris Oliveria

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dunkindean

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bill

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