When you get a flyer for a $395 scholarly compendium on comics, you think it must be some kind of scam.

Then you see it was edited by Bart H. Beaty and Stephen Weiner, and you decide you want it badly.

Salem Press publishes expensive research volumes, essentially for library purchase. Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Independents & Underground Classics is the second set in Salem’s comics survey—it’s a 1500 page, three-volume set covering the history of comics indie and literary comics. It’s $395 for the print or digital version but both come with a database.

A previous set, Heroes and Superheroes weighed in at two volumes, 800 pages, and $295.

Each book contains over one hundred essays on crucial works with characters, plot synopses, bibliographies and so on. The first book focuses on the tights crowd, while the next one covers….well, here’s a the entry on LOVE AND ROCKETS.
Are you sold? We are!

And that’s not all. Coming in August is a one-volume manga survey and in March of next year, “Thematic Overviews”:

This one-volume set contains over 65 essays covering themes and concepts of graphic novels, including genres, time periods, foreign-language traditions, social relevance, and craftsmanship such as penciling and inking.

Obviously these books are aimed at the academic audience. But they look like a sturdy research tool, especially for all those kids who are always asking for help writing their theses. From here on out we’ll tell them to just go to the library.


  1. Terry – your comment makes me cry a little inside. But maybe the value of this vs. After Watchmen demonstrates the difference between a public library and a college library.

  2. I’ve ordered the digital edition for Columbia, but have been told by the vendor that the first volume doesn’t release until June 30th.

  3. There’s also this:

    “The classic canon of Western civilization meets the artists and illustrators who have remade reading in the last years of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century in Russ Kick’s magisterial, three-volume, full-color Graphic Canon.
    This special slipcase edition includes all three volumes of the series in an attractively designed slipcase, allowing graphic novel collectors and fans to quickly add this seminal work to their library.”

    $90, 25% discount online.