Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere (Hardcover)
The massive impact that comics have had on our culture becomes more and more clear every day, from the critically acclaimed musical Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s groundbreaking comic, to the dozens of superhero films hitting cinemas every year. What is it that makes comics so special? What can this unique art form do that others can’t?
In Why Comics?, comics scholar Hillary Chute reveals the history of comics, underground comics (or comix), and graphic novels, through deep thematic analysis, and fascinating portraits of the fearless men and women behind them. As Scott McCloud revealed the methods behind comics and the way they worked in his classic Understanding Comics, Chute will reveal the themes that Comics handle best, and how the form is uniquely equipped to explore them.
The topics Why Comics? include:
• Why Disaster: with such major works focusing on disasters, from Art Spiegelman’s work, which covers the Holocaust and 9/11 to Keiji Nakazawa’s work covering Heroshima, comics find themselves uniquely suited to convey the scale and disorientation of disaster.
• Why Suburbs: through the work of Chris Ware and Charles Burns, Chute reveals the fascinating ways that Comics illustrate the quiet joys and struggles of suburban existence.
• Why Punk: With an emphasis on DIY aesthetics and rebelling against what came before, the Punk movement would prove to be a fertile ground for some of the most significant modern cartoonists, creating a truly democratic art form.
Chute has created an indispensable guide to comics for those new to the genre, or those who want to understand more about what lies behind their favorite works.
“In her wonderful book, Hillary L. Chute suggests that we’re in a blooming, expanding era of the art… Chute’s often lovely, sensitive discussions of individual expression in independent comics seem so right and true.”
“[Chute] has been leading the charge with some of the most sophisticated comics criticism to date… From Chute’s spectacular close readings it becomes clear that comics is, unquestionably, literature.”
“Anyone seeking a persuasive and perceptive entryway to the world of comics need look no further.”
“Chute clearly has a deep understanding of, experience with, and affinity for comics culture. Best of all, though she analyzes with an academic’s rigor and supports her themes with extensive research, she doesn’t write like a professor… For anyone who wants a crash course in contemporary comics, or wants to teach one, this is your book.”
“Chute elevates comics to literature when dissecting panels, text, and drawing techniques in the more than 100 reprints within the book.”
“Now that Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home have found both commercial and critical success, at last there is a brilliant investigation into the unique powers of the medium.”
“As charmingly illustrated and approachable as the works it considers.”
“Why Comics? is a must-read, filling in a significant portion of the vast jigsaw puzzle of understanding comics.”
“9.5 out of 10”
“When it comes to comics, Hillary Chute asks all the right questions.”
“Why Comics? is a riveting compendium of history, humor, politics, punk, sex, violence, and the occasional superhero. Hillary Chute has given us the stories behind some of the most subversive literature of our time. You want to read this book.”
“Hillary Chute is the scholar comics has been waiting for—passionate, eloquent, encyclopedically knowledgeable, and profoundly in sync with the medium.”
“Why Comics? is as entertaining as it is revelatory, and Hillary Chute is one of the most engaging thinkers afoot in criticism today. Ideas tumble from these pages.”
“Hillary Chute, who may be to comics studies what Art Spiegelman is to comics, brings her academic rigor to an examination of this oft-underappreciated art form. Her supple, nuanced understanding of how to read comics—not only why—begins with an emphasis on the difference between simply reading comics and knowing how to read comics, and continues with a deep dive into genres and themes.”