Lately, I've picked up a couple of books about comics. They're pretty different in tone and content, but both are well-worth checking out.
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America is concerned with the "Comic Book Panic" of the late 40s-50s, while giving the era context by briefly covering comics' beginnings and the players involved. In fact, Hadju's coverage of this topic is as good as any book on comics history I've read. To it's main concern: If you only know Wertham and Seduction of the Innocent, you don't know even half of the story. While the traditional narrative of comic book fans of artists standing against oppressive moral scolds, their is also more than a little hubris in the tale of publishers and creators pursuing the freedom and the money, heedless of the looming darkness on the horizon.
The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris covers some less than stellar moments in comics history from a creative standpoint. The characters are grouped by era, Golden Age through Modern Age. They range from unoriginal (The Fab Four) to really strange (the Eye), with a whole lot of poorly executeds in-between. More than a few of the characters (like ROM) I don't find regrettable at all, while several are perfectly serviceable, except for costumes that have aged poorly. Still, whether you agree with Morris's assessment of these characters or not, his coverage is interesting.
4 hours ago