The Great Comic Book Heroes

Overview

Jules Feiffer's historic essay, available again in a compact and affordable size.Fantagraphics is proud to publish Jules Feiffer's long out-of-print and seminal essay of comics criticism, The Great Comic Book Heroes, in a compact and affordable size. In 1965, Feiffer wrote what is arguably the first critical history of the comic book superheroes of the late 1930s and early 1940s, including Plastic Man, Batman, Superman, The Spirit and others. In the book, Feiffer writes about the unique the place of comics in the...

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Overview

Jules Feiffer's historic essay, available again in a compact and affordable size.Fantagraphics is proud to publish Jules Feiffer's long out-of-print and seminal essay of comics criticism, The Great Comic Book Heroes, in a compact and affordable size. In 1965, Feiffer wrote what is arguably the first critical history of the comic book superheroes of the late 1930s and early 1940s, including Plastic Man, Batman, Superman, The Spirit and others. In the book, Feiffer writes about the unique the place of comics in the space between high and low art and the power which this space offers both the creator and reader.The Great Comic Book Heroes is widely acknowledged to be the first book to analyze the juvenile medium of superhero comics in a critical manner, but without denying the iconic hold such works have over readers of all ages. Out of print for over 30 years, Feiffer's book discusses the role that the patriotic superhero played during World War II in shaping the public spirit of civilians and soldiers, as well as the escapist power these stories held over the zeitgeist of America. With wit and insight Feiffer discusses what the great comic book heroes meant to him as a child and later as an artist.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Reader
Today's cartoonists owe huge debts of gratitude to Jules Feiffer.
Will Eisner
One of—if not the first of—the early writer/artists to emerge from the comic book ghetto into the literary/art world.
Publishers Weekly
Feiffer ends his fabulous 1965 essay on comic book history with an argument that comics are "junk," but that junk is good, even necessary. Taken on their own terms, comics deliver exactly what they should: base, escapist entertainment. This work was first published as a hardcover volume accompanied by 127 pages of color reprints, now omitted. The new, slim volume is a personal and critical history of the medium from 1937 to the early 1950s, mixing Feiffer's impressions of comics, and labor in them, with a powerful history of the business. He begins by recounting his love of comic strips, then dissects the appeal of the first comic books: "The daily strips, by their sleek professionalism, held an aloof quality which comic books, being not quite professional, easily avoided. They were closer to home, more comfortable to live with, less like grown-ups." He follows the comic book medium as it births Superman, Batman and all of the rest and cheekily examines various art techniques. Feiffer also looks at the comic book/juvenile delinquency controversy of the 1950s and the effect WWII had on the medium. His commentary is still relevant (and still among the best) today because it explains comics' appeal panel by panel, making immediately clear why this "junk" is so exciting. In the final chapter, Feiffer describes his own late entry into comic books (he worked for Will Eisner, of Spirit fame) with awe and regret. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The original version of this long out-of-print book was first published in 1965 by Dial Press and featured more than 100 pages of comic-book stories from 1939 to 1950 starring Superman, the Human Torch, the Spirit, and many others. All of that is regrettably omitted in this new edition, which features only Feiffer's introduction and afterword from the original. Editorial cartoonist and writer Feiffer (The Man in the Ceiling) grew up reading first newspaper comic strips and then early comic books, and this essay is in part a memoir of his life as a reader and then, somewhat later, as a comic-book artist and writer himself. But this is also a very early example of the serious study and analysis of comics and their heroes, regarding which Feiffer has many cogent, interesting, and even provocative things to say. Numerous newly added illustrations taken from early comics do make up to some extent for the loss of the stories themselves. Even truncated, this is still a worthwhile purchase, and the price is right; recommended for all libraries that don't own the original. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560975014
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jules  Feiffer

Jules Feiffer is a cartoonist, playwright, children’s book author and illustrator, and member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches a humor writing class at Stony Brook Southampton College and lives in Southampton, New York.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 26, 1929
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      The Pratt Institute, 1951

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