A Brief History of Comic Book Movies traces the meteoric rise of the hybrid art form of the comic book film. These films trace their origins back to the early 1940s, when the first Batman and Superman serials were made. The serials, and later television shows in the 1950s and 60s, were for the most part designed for children.
But today, with the continuing rise of Comic-Con, they seem to be more a part of the mainstream movie going experience than ever, appealing to adults as well as younger fans. This book examines comic book movies from the past and present, exploring how these films shaped American culture from the post-World War II era to the present day, and how they adapted to the changing tastes and mores of succeeding generations.
Organized in rough chronological order, the book's five chapters cover Origins, The DC Universe, The Marvel Universe, Animé Films, and Indies and Outliers, examining not only Hollywood films, but European, Asian, and French animated films as well.
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Wheeler Winston Dixon is the James Ryan Professor of Film Studies, Coordinator of the Film Studies Program, and Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Richard Graham is an associate professor and Media Services Librarian at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA, and a nationally recognized authority on comic books, graphic novels, and comic book movies.
"Engaging and very accessible . . . its value to readers will continue even as many more films enter into production and distribution."- Cynthia J. Miller, co-editor of 1950s 'Rocketman' TV Series and Their Fans: Cadets, Rangers, and Junior Space Men
"This history of an under-studied field is original, enlightening, and exemplary. I recommend it highly." - David Sterritt, Editor-in-Chief, Quarterly Review of Film and Video
"Comic book / superhero movies have become extremely popular in recent years. This book explores their history.
In the 1930's, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers were among the first comic book characters to make it to the big screen. They were multi-chapter movie serials (the film equivalent to a radio serial) to get children to come to the theater week after week. In the 1950's and 1960's, TV shows like Superman (with George Reeves) and Batman (with Adam West) were still aimed at children. With the booming popularity of annual conventions like San Diego Comic-Con (attended by upwards of 100,000people), comic books are now marketed for adults.
The authors look more specifically at DC Comics, home to Batman and Superman. A number of films have been produced over the last 30 years with each character, with varying levels of quality and level of box office receipts. DC has also produced a number of lower-budget animated Batman and Superman films over the years. The average comic book fan has not heard about them because they went straight to video or straight to streaming.
Marvel Comics, on the other hand, has a seemingly infinite number of superheroes, and combinations of superheroes, from which to choose. Examples included Spiderman, the Avengers and Iron Man. The first few Marvel films were underwhelming, in regards to quality and box office receipts, so Marvel Studios was created. The quality of the films, and their receipts, increased dramatically.
No book on comic book movies would be complete without a look at Japanese anime.It started after World War II when American brought comic books to Japan. The reader will learn a lot about anime. The book also explores movies that began life as comic books from companies other then DC and Marvel, like Barb Wire, Tank Girl and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Comic book fans and pop culture fans will love this book (despite the high price). It is short, very easy to read and well worth the reader's time. This easily gets five stars." - Paul Lappen, Midwest Book Review
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