Monday, November 9, 2009

Faster than a Speeding Bullet: the Rise of the Graphic Novel

Weiner, Stephen. Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: the Rise of the Graphic Novel. New York: NBM Publishing. 2003.

Weiner's book was a short examination of the emergence of the graphic novel as he sees it, stemming from years of interviews and personal interactions with some key graphic artists and publishers.

Though the book is poorly documented, filled with typos, and is, essentially, one man's unbiased opinion, it does present a loose outline of how America developed from the newspaper comic strip to the graphic novel that we see today. There are certainly better studies of how such a phenomenon happened in America, but there are few that are this short. The chapters are short, present Weiner's take on either a social movement or a key book, and then move on quickly to the next decade. He spent two pages talking about the underground comix movement, whereas Hatfield spent an entire 30 page chapter of his book looking at about six years.

If one needed to know a few key texts (again, though, it should be noted that Weiner gives no evidentiary support for his claims that such texts are key) or the general movement from strip to novel, then this book is fine. It would also provide a good introduction to the world of graphic novels, sequential art, comic books, et al for one who has passing interest.

For a more detailed description of the history, Ten Cent Plague: the Great Comic Book Scare and How it Changed America by Hajdu, Comic Book Culture by Pustz or Comic Book Nation by Wright would better better sources.

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