#CBR6 Review #11 – Super Graphic

Super GraphicTarget: Tim Leong’s Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe

Profile: Comics!, Non-fiction?

After Action Report:

Super Graphic is an aggregation of information.  A sequence of colorful graphs, diagrams and charts that serve up a dizzying variety of information about comic books, the worlds they contain and the industry that produces them.  It isn’t so much a book to be read cover to cover as it is an adventure, every page turn revealing something new and delightful.  That is, if you’re a comic book nerd.  Which is not to say that Super Graphic can’t be appreciated by a lay person.  The data is Marvelously (tee hee) accessible and easy to digest, assisted by the tight focus of every page and the slightly-more-than-occasional joke that helps alleviate the march of trivia.

To understand Super Graphic, it’s probably best to start at the author.  Tim Leong is a graphic designer and has worked at or contributed to a huge swath of entertainment and tech magazines including Wired, Fortune and Entertainment Weekly.  A lot of the work he did at Wired is similar to the Super Graphic project; interesting visual representations of information.  And on the surface, that’s really all Super Graphic is.  But at the same time, it’s also an homage to the geeky obsessiveness of comic fans, and an intriguing taste of a very strange world for neophytes and dilettantes.

For the record, I am at best a comic book dilettante.  I like the medium, and I have amassed a surprising amount of knowledge about their respective worlds, but I’m far from the obsessive collectors that run the various fan websites and online databases.  In some ways, I’m kind of an ideal reader for Super Graphic.  I know enough to smile and nod along with the inside jokes, but I’m also ignorant enough to be really interested and surprised by some of the pages, particularly those about the industry itself.  Not that others can’t get enjoyment out of it.

Leong does a good job of including unusual and obscure information along with the more basic stuff.  He also does a lot of comparison between the ‘Big Two’ of Marvel and DC, some of which is very interesting.  Leong is pretty transparently more of a DC fan than a Marvel fan, an opinion that isn’t currently in the majority in the comic book world.  That bias does flavor some of the book’s content, but not to the point of disparaging Marvel or irrationally praising DC.

And before I scare off the few non-comic people still reading this, Super Graphic isn’t just about superhero comics, though they make up a large majority of the pages.  The book also covers a wide selection of the best of the comic world; Peanuts, The Walking Dead, Tintin, Spy vs Spy and Persepolis, just for starters.  Japanese Manga even make an appearance, blowing out my quota for geekery for a single book.  While some of these mentions are just that: mentions or single page graphics, there’s enough non-superhero stuff here to keep pretty much anyone interested.

But the primary reason to read Super Graphic is just to be entertained and surprised by the trivia.  I was surprised by a page about how Chris Evans has appeared in more comic book movies than any other starring actor (I didn’t know about his voice gig in 2007s TMNT), and intrigued by a pair of pages about the coloration of hero and villain costumes (Green in this case does not stand for good).

All off this gushing comes with a hefty dose of ‘your-mileage-may-vary.’  Certainly if you have no interest in comics, or the pop-culture empire that has sprung up around them in the past decade, there is absolutely nothing present in Super Graphic that will engage you.  But I feel pretty confident that in this community, there are probably more than a few of you who will enjoy this colorful exploration of a colorful medium.

Posted on April 1, 2014, in Cannonball Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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