Rise of the Graphic Novel: everything you need to know about the comics field in 70 pages

Stephen Weiner's seminal Rise of the Graphic Novel has had a second edition. Rise builds on Weiner's influential work in cataloging and charting a course through the field of graphic novels for librarians around America and the world, spinning out a compact, fascinating narrative of the history of graphic novels, from the Yellow Kid to the modern explosion of Pulitzer-winning, "respectable," multi-media, highly lucrative graphic novels of today. For such a short book -- 70 pages -- Rise covers a huge amount of ground, from The Spirit to R Crumb, from indie comix to Cavalier and Clay, from Death Note to Understanding Comics and Sandman. Even Boing Boing's own Elfquest gets a chapter.

This is a perfect book for anyone trying to wrap her or his head around the field of comics, a quick and smart overview of the field that spans both decades and genres. Whether you're developing a syllabus, improving your library's collection, or just trying to get a better sense of the field and the good stuff you might have missed, Rise is well worth a read, and worth keeping around afterwards for reference.

Plus: there's a dandy introduction by Will Eisner himself!

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Rise of Graphic Novel (Second Edition)


  1. I sure hope that “The complete history of this popular format” include non-anglophone examples.  I’ll just assume it include non-US example.

    /..”paging Captain Canuck”

    1. Since Death Note is manga, I’m hoping it means that they do cover the non-US stuff (and even then not just Tintin, Tintin, Tintin and some Asterix…). Looking forward to check it out though.

    1. Hear, hear. “Understanding Comics” is also an excellent primer for interaction design in that it deftly explores and explains human response to visual stimulus.

      It’s a classic, and I always recommend it to students as a companion to Tufte’s works, which are also essential, but which ignore some very fundamental aspects of human cognition.

  2. When long-form comics became “graphic novels” that’s when I bailed on most of the genre. The experimental side of graphic novels should have lasted three maybe four years max, but here we are in 2013 still allowing comic artists to fill entire 128-page graphic novels with stories that could have been edited down to 12-pages. Experimentation is great in any art form, but experimentation without self-editing is kinda dull

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