DR. MEL'S MESSAGE - From my novels to my other projects, no telling what you will read. This is the only place you will get to read about how I developed a screenplay into a novel and what is the driving force. I will talk about many things from films to books to acting to producing. It really will depend on where my mind takes me. I hope you will join me on this journey.
In our vast tapestry of human history, storytelling has been an omnipresent constant. From oral traditions to parchment scrolls and now to digital screens, our stories have been the heartbeat of our civilizations. Among these tales, superhero comic books have claimed a unique and enduring space in our collective consciousness. But have we ever stopped to truly understand their depths, to explore the marrow of what makes them so compelling? "Understanding Superhero Comic Books: A History of Key Elements, Creators, Events and Controversies" by Alex Grand is not merely an exposition—it's a revelation. This masterpiece meticulously peels back the layers of the world of superhero comic books, offering us a front-row seat to their evolution, and the societal zeitgeist they encapsulated. The heroes we adore, from Batman to Captain America, are not mere figments of imagination; they are crystallizations of their epochs, bearing the weight of the world's hopes, fears, and aspirations.
Through the pages of this book, we journey with the luminaries who've sculpted this realm—Julius Schwartz, whose interplay with science-fiction redefined superhero origins; Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko, the trinity behind the sprawling Marvel Universe; Jim Starlin, who audaciously tread where none had before, delving into the mortality of these immortal figures; John Byrne, who breathed new life into superheroes for a new age; and Alan Moore, whose critical eye deconstructed and reimagined the very idea of a superhero.
I've had the privilege of reviewing an array of literary works over the years, but "Understanding Superhero Comic Books" stands in a league of its own. Alex Grand has crafted a lens, sharpened by diligent research and profound insights, allowing us to view our beloved superheroes not just as icons, but as mirrors reflecting our ever-evolving world.
Bestowing a five-star rating feels almost insufficient for a tome of this caliber. This isn't just a book; it's an invitation—a call to dive deep into the heart of what makes our superheroes truly super.
To the fans, the historians, the curious, and the uninitiated—take action now. Embark on this enlightening voyage with Alex Grand, and you will emerge with a renewed appreciation not just for superhero comic books, but for the intricate dance of culture, history, and creativity they represent.
A must-read. A tour de force. An unmissable journey.
This work dissects the origin and growth of superhero comic books, their major influences, and the creators behind them. It demonstrates how Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and many more stand as time capsules of their eras, rising and falling with societal changes, and reflecting an amalgam of influences. The book covers in detail the iconic superhero comic book creators and their unique contributions in their quest for realism, including Julius Schwartz and the science-fiction origins of superheroes; the collaborative design of the Marvel Universe by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko; Jim Starlin's incorporation of the death of superheroes in comic books; John Byrne and the revitalization of superheroes in the modern age; and Alan Moore's deconstruction of superheroes.
“No one does comic book history like Alex Grand. He is a meticulous researcher and an insightful interviewer. Understanding Super Hero Comic Books is a fascinating study that weaves together the intricate relationships between comic strips, pulp magazines, old movie serials and comic book super heroes. If you’ve ever been intrigued by the colorful characters that populate comic books―and fill our television and movie screens―this book is for you.”―Tom DeFalco, editor-in-chief of Marvel in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“A complete intensive overview of the superhero comic book industry today with its earlier roots in comic strips.”―Tom Palmer, Silver Age Comic Book inker
“WOW! Incredible insight, fair profiling, and incredibly informative! Alexander Grand has done it! Finally, an accurate in-depth book that is balanced and fair to both creators and publishers! Mr. Grand takes us on an incredibly informed journey through the history of comic books and its creators as no other book I've ever read. Taking us from the very beginning of sequential storytelling to the creation of the comic book, to the comics boom, to the near destruction of comics by Fredric Wertham, to the explosion of Marvel and the Superhero brought to us by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, to the creative wave in the 90's, to rock bottom and to the rebirth of the comic medium by independent creators. Connecting for us the use of comic books throughout popular culture and all types of media and products. I've been in the industry for 30 years and even I was finding myself being more informed with new discoveries than I could have imagined. I found it particularly original in its informative writing about creators of color, women and the comic book illustrator’s plight. Mr. Grand is a wealth of knowledge brought to us in a writing style that keeps you on a fast pace energetic ride. You'll find yourself wanting to turn the page to find out more and more and more. Controversy, Betrayal, Inspiration, Loss, Success! I couldn't put it down!”―Guy Dorian Sr., comic book professional, creator and graphic novelist
“An immersive deep dive into the history and elements of the comic book, from an expert. I was unable to put this down―well-crafted, thoughtful, and meticulously researched, Alex Grand has done a great job.”―Alex Segura, bestselling and acclaimed author of Secret identity, former co-president of Archie Comics and senior vice president at Oni Press
“This book is important. It’s going to start more arguments than it settles. That’s a good thing. Let’s hash it out. Let’s separate the lies and agendas from the truth and fairness. Thank you, Alex. This is a remarkable work.”―Jim Shooter, former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, 1978-1987
“Stories that test a protagonist’s physical and moral strengths let us escape our daily lives while fantasizing about how we might deal with disruptive events ranging from powerful entities in dynamic conflict to emotional cataclysms. Alex Grand’s Understanding Superhero Comic Books gives us insights into the history, people and creative trends of the superhero greenhouse that spawned many of today’s entertainment franchises.”―Carl Potts, former Marvel Comics executive editor, artist and writer
“An in-depth survey-with-commentary of the superhero genre, its triumphs and tragedies―those of the fictional characters and their flesh-and-blood creators―Understanding Superhero Comic Books explains how and why superheroes have had, for the past twenty years (and, really, for the past eighty years) such an enduring hold on us, and why they continue to do so. Sure, it’s quite possible that optho-neurologist Alex Grand wrote such a minutely researched and detailed book as Understanding in order to induce eyestrain and therefore send you running to his office. But that would just be a byproduct of the many joys contained in this book, Grand’s grand survey of superheroes and the medium from which they sprang.”―Danny Fingeroth, former Marvel editor and writer, author of A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee and Superman On The Couch
“In Understanding Super Hero Comic Books, Alex Grand offers a thoughtful, well-written analysis of superheroes and their impact on popular culture and history. Whether a comic book superfan or someone new to the genre, readers will find Grand’s insights into the history meaningful and illuminating. This book proves that we really do live in a superhero age!”―Bob Batchelor, author of Stan Lee: A Life and Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel
States…very detailed and well-researched… it is enjoyable if you know a lot about this material, and it is enjoyable if you DON'T know a lot about the material…an entertaining and informative piece of comic book history.”―Comic Book Resources
About the Author
Alex Grand is an internationally established comics historian, founder of the Comic Book Historians, and a regular panelist at Comic Con International: San Diego, Wonder Con, and San Diego ComicFest. He has been featured in comics-based documentaries, television, and radio programs and has appeared or been published in The Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, The Comics Journal, The Jack Kirby Collector and Alter Ego. He lives in Sacramento, California.