Comic Review: Comic Book History of Comics: Comics For All #1 (IDW)

IDW’s Comic Book History of Comics, now into Volume 2, starts off again at #1. This issue is about the birth of the Graphic Novel, entwined with its history in […]

IDW’s Comic Book History of Comics, now into Volume 2, starts off again at #1. This issue is about the birth of the Graphic Novel, entwined with its history in Belgium, France, and USA, from 1831-1986.

Let’s start with the cover before we judge the book. Cover A shows a trio of hands, raised in the air in solidarity. One has a brush, one has a pencil, and one a nib. Pretty good cover, and eye-catching. Cover B, however, gets the gong. It’s a jam-packed collage of 5 frames, each of them jam-packed to the gunnels with text about comics in India. Too much, wayyy too much, especially for a cover.

I mention Cover B because it’s something that recurs throughout the issue: page after page of facts, figures and more facts. Sure, it’s a comic book about comic books, and that’s a cool concept, but it reads like Fred Van Lente (writer) and Ryan Dunlavey (art, with color by Adam Guzowski) want to condense an entire universe of knowledge into an illustrated Powerpoint.

There’s hundreds and hundreds of words per page in this issue, along with sometimes amusing illustrations. But its been done better, especially by Will Eisner, and Joe Kubert, in the official US Army magazine entitled PS Magazine. That Preventative Maintenance magazine is published for the purpose of educating the military about (mostly) machine maintenance and safety. Its content is some of the driest and factual that you could imagine, but the artists did a wonderful job in pairing the content with wonderful illustrations.

The Comic Book History of Comics is well-intentioned, and reading it will surely educate you on the amazing history of international comics. I think the cartooning could be made more consistent, (line weights vary, and some of the caricatures are a little rough) but there’s no doubt that this comic covers ground that is not being covered by other creators.

IDW, Comic Book History of Comics, Volume 2, issue 1 $3.99 for 23 pages of content

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!