Understanding Superhero Comic Books

A History of Key Elements, Creators, Events and Controversies

Not Yet Published


New 2022 Pre-Order

Available for pre-order / backorder

About the Author(s)

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 appearances and has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, The Comics Journal, The Jack Kirby Collector and Alter Ego. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Bibliographic Details

Alex Grand
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 50 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9039-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4861-3
Imprint: McFarland

Book Reviews & Awards

• “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 meticulously 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