Book Review: “Super Graphic” by Tim Leong

In the past few years displaying information in a visually appealing manner has become an art form.  Every internet denizen or news network viewer is familiar with the term infographic and I’m positive the majority of us have some of our favorites bookmarked or sitting in boards on Pinterest.  Whether the information is about important or topical subjects, scary and downright saddening, just plain off the wall, or simply fun infographics have become and integral part of our visual lives.  “Super Graphic: a visual guide to the comic book universe” seeks to apply this new infovisual art form to the world of comics and does so with great aplomb!  “Holy introduction, Batman!  Let’s get to the review!”

Publisher Marketing:

“Super Graphic: a visual guide to the comic book universe” by Tim Leong

The comic book universe is adventurous, mystifying, and filled with heroes, villains, and cosplaying Comic-Con attendees. This book by one of Wired magazine’s art directors traverses the graphic world through a collection of pie charts, bar graphs, timelines, scatter plots, and more. Super Graphic offers readers a unique look at the intricate and sometimes contradictory storylines that weave their way through comic books, and shares advice for navigating the pages of some of the most popular, longest-running, and best-loved comics and graphic novels out there.

My Review: 4.5/5 Venn Diagrams of Fun

I am a librarian, so it is no surprise that I’m a proud geek.  Though there are many types of geek, as I have the stated vocation, it should be no surprise that I enjoy comics of all sorts.  Like many of us, I cut my teeth on super hero comics and though my tastes have matured, I still love losing myself in the adventures of these heralds of righteousness dressed in spandex.  So, it was fated that I would love this book.  And love it I do.  I intend to buy myself two copies: one to read again and again and one to tear pages out to frame and hang around home and office.

The idea is simple and its execution good: infographics to enlighten and entertain regarding the world of comics.  These including references from “The Yellow Kid” to modern superhero  comics and comics with a mature sensibility.  The infographics range from simple (the frequency of seeing those Calvin urinating on something stickers in relation to one’s faith in humanity) to the extremely complex (relation and interaction tree for the characters from Miller’s “Sin City”).  Each one is beautifully illustrated with bright colors and an eye to readability.  The majority of the subject matter included focuses on the superhero world (predominantly DC Comics).  This sometimes made me wish for more variation, but not enough to lose my enjoyment in exploring the graphs, Venn diagrams, pie charts, and other means of visual representations of comic book joy and knowledge.

You don’t need to be an expert in comics and comic history to enjoy this book, which is one of its strengths.  Old hats may wish for a little more in-depth information and often find themselves exploring familiar ground, but that doesn’t lessen the impact or fun of the book .  If you are not a current comic book geek, I would wager a casual exploration of Leong’s infographics will spur you on to explore the comics universe a bit more.  That last bit is one of the biggest reasons I love this book . . . there is so much out there in comics, far too much to but scratch the surface with a book like Leong’s.  But that scratch touches an itch that many people may find they didn’t know they had, thus introducing people to the beginnings of a journey into a wider world of comics and graphic novels.  A journey I’d wager they will find well worth the trip, leaving them hoping (like myself) that Leong will expand upon this book with more fun infographics.

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