August 2, 2009

The Not-So-Secret History of Comics

To be honest, I love urban legends. I love reading about not just the "official" history, but those stories that kind of lie in the back of people's minds. There's something about friend-of-a-friend tales that adds an added layer of mystique - granted, they're not always true, but I kind of wish they were. That's probablywhy I enjoy reading about trivia, and the not-quite-official record: there's something about folklore that's instantly appealing.

I have to admit, Comic Book Legends Revealed appeals to me in that spirit (in fact, that and Greg's writings are the only reason I read that particular site). So when Brian Cronin's book, Was Superman a Spy? came out, I ordered it and read it from cover to cover.

It's a pretty easy read - although the prose, at times, seems a little spotty, it's quite an enjoyable book that looks at some of the "hidden" history of comics, telling some well-known (and some not-quite-well-known) tales of comics history.

Unlike Comic Book Legends, Cronin's book avoids using a question-and-answer format, and attempts to share information in a more linear way. Unfortunately, although the book is a relatively simple read, there is a lack of flow to the book - it seems to jump around, and lacks a real cohesion. While I enjoyed reading the book as a way of exploring some obscure (and not quite obscure) facts about comics, there were times when the book was tough to read.

However, despite some relatively spotty writing, the book is really enjoyable. It's pretty much organized the way one would expect - first DC and spotlighting its major characters, then Marvel, then pretty much other companies. It's the kind of book that makes good commuter reading, and is also the kind of book that's worth sharing. I liked it a lot, despite my problems with the prose - however, it's also a book that is sorely needed.

And of course, it only means that more bloggers can write books. For example, I could see Rich whipping up a novel called Please Pertwee Don't Hurt 'Em. Or Mr. Bacardi writing a hard boiled pulp novel. Or even the ultimate: Mike Sterling's Complete and Utter History of Swamp Thing, Which You Will Buy And Love, Or I Will Come and Do Rude Things To Your Pets

But until then, enjoy Was Superman A Spy?

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