Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Independents and Underground Classics

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Independents and Underground Classics

Article excerpt

Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Independents and Underground Classics. Ed. by Bart H. Beaty and Stephen Weiner. Critical Survey of Graphic Novels Series. Ipswich, MA: Salem, 2013. 3 vols. acid free $395 (ISBN: 9781587659508). Online access included with purchase of print.

Independents and Underground Classics is the second title in the Critical Survey of Graphic Novels series from Salem Press. The stated intention of this title is to provide "clear, concise, and accessible analysis of not only the historic and current landscape of the interdisciplinary medium and its consumption, but the wide range of genres, themes, devices, and techniques that the graphic novel medium encompasses" (xi). Fortunately, the work lives up to its stated purpose very well. Through detailed analysis of individual graphic novels, Independents and Underground Classics does an admirable job of demonstrating how the graphic novel form is just as effective in engaging readers and portraying the human condition as more established art forms.

Independents and Underground Classics provides alphabetically arranged entries on more than 200 graphic novels published from the advent of the underground comics movement in the 1960s until the present. Most of the graphic novels discussed were published by the creators themselves or by smaller publishing houses rather than by larger comics companies such as DC Comics and Marvel Comics. The brief but insightful introduction attributes the evolution of the modern graphic novel to the underground comics of the 1960s and to the direct market of comic book specialty shops. …

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