I am trying to really broaden my reading horizons and get some more interesting genres into my reportoir. So I saw many good reviews on the book Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can
Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison and thought this would be a good opportunity to read some non-fiction while impressing my husband with my newly acquired nerdy knowledge. The title sounded so promising…
For those of us not in the know, Grant Morrison is a comic book writer – a very famous comic book writer. In fact, he wrote the best selling graphic novel of all time (Batman: Arkham Asylum) a fact which he never misses an opportunity to let the reader know. We get it dude- you have made lots of the moneys with this comic book thing and should therefore be respected. This is where the book really has its’ downfall.
The first two thirds of the book deal with the early ages of comic books – the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee dominated eras filled with the names we all know – Superman, Spiderman, Batman, The Green Lantern, The Hulk, etc… Morrison does an excellent job of detailing the genesis of the most popular superheroes. He relates it not only to what was going on in the States but also to his own childhood in England. And it is interesting! We find out what not only motivated him but what he thinks motivates anybody who is interested in comic books. I was REALLY digging this part.
Then we get to the part where he is actually writing graphic novels and we get to the self-aggrandizing/putting other people down part. This is where the book took a very steep sharp turn for the worse. Not my fave. I am willing to admit that this may be partly due to the fact that I LOVE Watchmen (arguably the greatest graphic novel of all time) and Morrison puts it down throughout the book. It is only later that you learn that Morrison and Alan Moore (the author of Watchmen) have had an ongoing feud for a good ten+ years. Enough already!
So I’m really split on this book review : I give the first two thirds a resounding eight shoes and the last third an even more deafening two shoes – barely readable.
Three Appeals: Comic book history, interesting personal anecdotes, literary quality
Red Flags: Language, Drug use – Does hubris count??
If you want to read more non-fiction about comic books then try:
1) The Comic Book Heroes: The First History of Modern Comic Books – From the Silver Age to the Present by Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs
A comprehensive history of comic books.
2) Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution by Ronin Ro
What happened between two of the greatest comic book creators – a great feud and lots of wrangling over money.
3) Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean by Douglas Wolk
Want some non-fiction about other genres in literature? Try:
1) Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance edited by Jayne Krentz
A book of essays by romance writers on what draws readers to the romance genre.
2) Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon
A book of essays by the Pulitzer Prize winning author on his own love of different genres and how he writes his books.
3) Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
A must read for anybody who loves books! This small tome is a collection of essays on reading – how it affects your life, your relationships and the relationship you can only have with a book.
My final recommendation is to read Watchmen! This is one of my favorite books of all time let alone my favorite graphic novel. It is the only graphic novel to be on the Time’s 100 best novels. It is amazing and would definitely garner my 10 shoe review. Amazing story, interesting art, engrossing characters….can you ask for anything more?
Fair warning- this is chock full of sex, violence, language, everything else. This is NOT appropriate for children.
Thanks and happy reading!