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The Greatest Comic Book of All Time: Symbolic Capital and the Field of American Comic Books

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Bart Beaty and Benjamin Woo work to historicize why it is that certain works or creators have come to define the notion of a "quality comic book," while other works and creators have been left at the fringes of critical analysis. Bart Beaty and Benjamin Woo work to historicize why it is that certain works or creators have come to define the notion of a "quality comic book," while other works and creators have been left at the fringes of critical analysis.


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Bart Beaty and Benjamin Woo work to historicize why it is that certain works or creators have come to define the notion of a "quality comic book," while other works and creators have been left at the fringes of critical analysis. Bart Beaty and Benjamin Woo work to historicize why it is that certain works or creators have come to define the notion of a "quality comic book," while other works and creators have been left at the fringes of critical analysis.

34 review for The Greatest Comic Book of All Time: Symbolic Capital and the Field of American Comic Books

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Rhode

    I was sent a proof of this by Bart Beaty, and I'm glad I sat down to read it. The two authors do an incisive job at looking at the how and why of how a comic book creator becomes part of a canon, or a classic. The book is so good that I wish it took them longer to find a publishing contract - the academic price is ridiculous, and I actually would have liked to have seen a few more examples in new chapters. I was sent a proof of this by Bart Beaty, and I'm glad I sat down to read it. The two authors do an incisive job at looking at the how and why of how a comic book creator becomes part of a canon, or a classic. The book is so good that I wish it took them longer to find a publishing contract - the academic price is ridiculous, and I actually would have liked to have seen a few more examples in new chapters.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nick Nguyen

    Well argued, well structured and well written. The authors should be congratulated for a substantial contribution to the field of comics studies, of which this book should be considered a seminal text. My only gripe, which is actually more of a compliment, is that I wanted more. This book also makes one want to revisit Dylan Horrock's HICKSVILLE immediately. Well argued, well structured and well written. The authors should be congratulated for a substantial contribution to the field of comics studies, of which this book should be considered a seminal text. My only gripe, which is actually more of a compliment, is that I wanted more. This book also makes one want to revisit Dylan Horrock's HICKSVILLE immediately.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    A breezy read, but the book has a really strong premise: what are the factors that determine which comics are considered good, important, and/or popular, and how would the world of comics have to change in order for other (types of) comics to be seen as the best or most important. The book uses an interesting selection of case studies, and I got something interesting or new out of every single chapter.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dominick

    Interesting, accessibly-written book, despite its theoretical framework and grounding in Bourdieu. It addresses questions of canonicity--why are the comics that are regarded as the greatest ones so regarded, and what other factors might lead to a very different canon? (Of course, in doing so, it does challenge the notion of such a thing as an objective canon.) It charts work in terms of cultural prestige (how much academic attention has a work received?) and economic sucesss (how well has it sol Interesting, accessibly-written book, despite its theoretical framework and grounding in Bourdieu. It addresses questions of canonicity--why are the comics that are regarded as the greatest ones so regarded, and what other factors might lead to a very different canon? (Of course, in doing so, it does challenge the notion of such a thing as an objective canon.) It charts work in terms of cultural prestige (how much academic attention has a work received?) and economic sucesss (how well has it sold?) to create four categories, basically: cultural AND economic capital, cultural but NOT economic capital, economic but NOT cultural capital, and of course, neither kind of capital. Unsurprisingly, the works that have made the canon are, for the most part, the ones with both kinds of capital, but as Beaty and Woo usefully point out, many uncelebrated comics have been hugely successful financially (and indeed may well not have been celebrated precisely because they are TOO commercial), and that some extremely poor-selling comics have nevertheless achieved at least some cultural capital. (But of course if a book is too inaccessible--either because nobody can get hold of it, or if it is not available in English--its odds of earning cultural capital go down precipitously.) The book claims in each of its chapters to be exploring "what if" a particular comic was the greatest comic of all time (ranging from obvious choices like Maus to exceedingly unlikely ones like a comic by Rob Leifeld), and to be making a case for what conditions would have to apply for the work in question to be deemed the greatest comic book of all time. Mostly it does not deliver on that promise, instead offering insightful, if brief, histories of the comic in question and commenting on why it does or does not have cultural capital. I would have been much more interested in a genuine case for how or why a Leifeld comic could be regarded as great, frankly. It is choices like that-and of Archie comics, or of Dave Sim's Cerebus - that give the book its edge of tendentiousness. Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile and provocative book, probably more likely to appeal to comics scholars than to comics fans (especially at its price point), but it is eminently readable.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eszter Szép

    This is one of the most interesting and most enjoyable books on comics I've read recently. It is about how institutions and social practices influence the canon, and it contains a lot of "what if"-situations: what if different conventions dominated our appreciation of comics. This book constantly makes me think about the way I see comics (in Eastern Europe) and revisit what I believed I already understood. I highly recommend it! This is one of the most interesting and most enjoyable books on comics I've read recently. It is about how institutions and social practices influence the canon, and it contains a lot of "what if"-situations: what if different conventions dominated our appreciation of comics. This book constantly makes me think about the way I see comics (in Eastern Europe) and revisit what I believed I already understood. I highly recommend it!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Noe

    One of the most valuable comic studies books to my work thus far.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  8. 5 out of 5

    Martin Lund

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robert Boyd

  10. 5 out of 5

    jâĉk spàrrow

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marc Raymond

  12. 5 out of 5

    A. David Lewis

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  14. 5 out of 5

    Raisu

  15. 5 out of 5

    CCC

  16. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Podraza

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brent

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nbar

  19. 5 out of 5

    Esther Wahrhaftig

  20. 4 out of 5

    Evan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Assaf

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eric Federspiel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lotta

  24. 5 out of 5

    Barry Welsh

  25. 4 out of 5

    Magdalena

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jules

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  28. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Wong Schirmer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aarnoud Rommens

  30. 5 out of 5

    cognitive dissident

  31. 5 out of 5

    Hatem Aly

  32. 5 out of 5

    Irina

  33. 4 out of 5

    Tux

  34. 5 out of 5

    Petar Šego

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