Themed Book Lists

20 Books on Comics and Cartoons

DC Comics, Ben Katchor, Scott McCloud, and more

October 14, 2013

Updated, October 7, 2014. Comic Con—the anime, manga, and comic book lover’s annual conference—takes place in New York, October 9–12. Here are 20 books on comics, cartoons, and related subjects from our designers and other contributors to mark the occasion.

Comics Sketchbooks Steven Heller

From the Publisher. From cartoons to graphic novels, from humor to superheroes, comics are the world’s most popular form of illustration. And, as in all forms of illustration, artists and designers experiment with visual ideas, image-and-word play, narrative sequencing, and stylistic flourishes through sketching. What we rarely see is the creative thinking—the doodling—that leads to fully formed visual ideas and stories.

Comics Sketchbooks presents the private notebooks of eighty-two of the world’s most inventive, innovative, and successful artists alongside new talents and emerging illustrators. The artists have been selected by the world’s leading critic and most knowledgeable source in the field of graphic design and illustration, Steven Heller, who has had personal access to some of the most private and unseen material. Although there have been several comic-book compilations over the years, none has the visual excitement, insight, and mind-blowing creativity— and fun—of this one.

Steven Heller is Co-chair of the MFA Design/Designer as Author and Entrepreneur program at New York's School of Visual Arts. He is the author of many books on graphic design, including Handwritten, New Ornamental Type, and Scripts.

Caution: Small Ensembles Edward Koren

Collection of work by New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren.

Hand-Drying in America Ben Katchor

From the Publisher. From one of the most original and imaginative American cartoonists at work today comes a collection of graphic narratives on the subjects of urban planning, product design, and architecture—a surrealist handbook for the rebuilding of society in the twenty-first century.

Ben Katchor, a master at twisting mundane commodities into surreal objects of social significance, now takes on the many ways our property influences and reflects cultural values. Here are window-ledge pillows designed expressly for people-watching and a forest of artificial trees for sufferers of hay fever. The Brotherhood of Immaculate Consumption deals with the matter of products that outlive their owners; a school of dance is based upon the choreographic motion of paying with cash; high-visibility construction vests are marketed to lonely people as a method of getting noticed. With cutting wit Katchor reveals a world similar to our own—lives are defined by possessions, consumerism is a kind of spirituality—but also slightly, fabulously askew. Frequently and brilliantly bizarre, and always mesmerizing, Hand-Drying in America ensures that you will never look at a building, a bar of soap, or an ATM the same way.

Batman Animated Chip Kidd
With Paul Dini

Chronicles the creation of and evolution of the animated Batman television program.

Batman Collected Chip Kidd

From the Publisher. The Batman mythology has fired the American imagination since 1939. Its ever-growing popularity right up until today has spawned thousands of toys, gadgets, plastic figurines, night-lights, wind-up toys, wristwatches,and many other collectibles. Drawing upon the author’s own personal collection, as well as those of such notable fans as Andy Warhol and the DC Comics archives, Batman Collected brings these memorabilia to life. Perfect for the comic lover, here is a remarkable wealth of rare, never-before-photographed Batman treasures. 

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Frank Miller

From the Publisher. This masterpiece of modern comics storytelling brings to vivid life a dark world and an even darker man. Together with inker Klaus Janson and colorist Lynn Varley, writer/artist Frank Miller completely reinvents the legend of Batman in his saga of a near-future Gotham City gone to rot, ten years after the Dark Knight’s retirement.

Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan Chip Kidd

From the Publisher. The two hottest genres in comics gleefully collide head-on, as the most beloved American superhero gets the coolest Japanese manga makeover ever.

From Cave Painting to Comic Strip Lancelot Thomas Hogben

A “kaleidoscope of human communication.”


The Four Elements Roz Chast

A collection of satirical cartoons from New Yorker staff cartoonist Roz Chast on subjects that include daily life, family, and childhood.

The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days Chip Kidd

An illustrated volume features original comic book artwork that depicts DC Comics' most significant characters and artists, in a tribute that showcases both pop culture favorites and lesser-known classics.

The Incal Jean “Moebius” Giraud
Alejandro Jodorowsky

When private investigator John DiFool inherits a powerful crystal called the Light Incal from a dying alien, various political factions pursue him across the galaxy, intent on securing the crystal for themselves.

The Juggler of Our Lady R. (Robert) O. Blechman

Medieval legend retold by cartoonist R. O. Blechman (b. 1930).

Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District Ben Katchor

From the Publisher. Join Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, on a leisurely stroll past The Institute for Soup-Nut Research and The Municipal Birthmark Registry. Savor the smell of a phone booth, circa 1961. Sign up for a guided tour of the oldest continually vacant storefront in America. Attend a championship grave-digging competition, or, should you feel you've wasted yet another day, you can check in for help at a local Misspent Youth Center.

In The Beauty Supply District, a new 24-page story, Knipl attends an evening concert and unwittingly enters the world of wholesale empathizers and chiaroscuro brokers who make the decisions critical to the production of aesthetic pleasure in all its forms—from the shape of an olive jar to the score of a string quartet.

Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur Hal Foster

Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur is a comic strip created by Hal Foster, running from 1937 to the present (Foster's last strip was drawn in 1971), that recounted the adventures of the eponymous Norse prince and his family and friends.

Prince Valiant Fights Attila the Hun Hal Foster

The second volume of the deeds of the adventuresome Sir Valiant, Prince and Knight of King Arthur's Round Table. Prince Val embarks with his father to reclaim their rightful throne in Thule and then wields his singing sword in aid of a Europe aflame with the ravages and plunderings of Attila's barbaric hordes.

Tintin: Le scèptre d’Ottokar (Tintin: King Ottokar’s Sceptre) Hergé The classic graphic novel. Tintin meets Professor Alembick, an expert with a very rare royal seal in his collection-the seal of King Ottokar the IV of Syldavia. Tintin joins the professor on his trip to this foreign land, but can the Professor be trusted?
Tintin in Tibet Hergé

— Graphic designer Angus Hyland comments:

“The book that changed my life.”

Steinberg Saul Steinberg

Cartoons and graphic art by Saul Steinberg (1914–99).

Understanding Comics Scott McCloud

From the Publisher. Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, this innovative comic book provides a detailed look at the history, meaning, and art of comics and cartooning.

Watchmen Alan Moore
Dave Gibbons Illustrator

This stunning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of superheroes plagued by all too human failings. The concept of the super hero is dissected and inverted as strangely realistic characters are stalked by an unknown assassin. Originally published as a 12 issue series in 1986 and 1987, WATCHMEN remains one of DC Comics' most popular graphic novels.

comments powered by Disqus