Okay, so I very rarely buy books anymore. But, when I started reading my library’s copy of Tim Leong’s book of comics facts and figures told through charts and diagrams, I knew that I must have it for always and forever in my personal collection. Super Graphic: a Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe is a book that readers will return to again and again.
Leong, founder of my favorite now-defunct comics publication, Comic Foundry, put together this visual guide full of interesting topics that readers didn’t even know they wanted to know more about. Wondering who’s who in Sin City? Well, a bubble chart will spell it out for you. Want to know more about the multiple Earths that exist in the DC Universe? A two-page spread of the multiverse will let you know that we live on New Earth and Batman is a vampire on Earth 43. And, it’s not all superhero information, either – there is a Chris Ware sadness scale and a line graph mapping oppression and rebellion in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. My favorite? A network diagram leading us through a “If You Were the Punisher, What Would You Do” situation. Spoiler alert – “kill him” is always the answer.
This book will appeal to all readers due to the extremely fun, visual nature that the book imparts in addition to the fact that Tim’s book doesn’t contain information about really specialized or specific areas of the genre. In other words, the comic book references throughout are pretty mainstream and will be easily understood and appreciated by both dedicated comics fans and readers who are only vaguely aware of their existence.
Each subject, shown in graph or chart form over a one or two-page spread, is somehow related to comics or the industry itself. Flipping through the book, readers will see that this reading adventure will be a totally visual experience. Everything contained within is very colorful, bright, and cleverly indicative of the subject matter. For example, an “Archer Appeal” section, comparing DC’s Green Arrow and Marvel’s Hawkeye, is done through using bullseyes and the characters’ respective colors to spotlight all the different arrows both archers use. A pie chart depicting the Gotham City Police Department’s utility bill ends up looking like the Bat-Signal.
Super Graphic is a dense book full of fun facts, interesting tidbits, and informational panels. Every topic is represented by interesting and eye-catching graphs and charts, and readers really must see it to believe it. This well-designed and researched book is a great addition to other reference materials on comics and manga such as DK’s DC and Marvel encyclopedias.
Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe
by Tim Leong
Chronicle Books, 2013