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Although comics existed in strip and pulp formats for decades prior, the modern American comic book came into popular consciousness with the introduction of Superman in 1938's Action Comics #1. After Superman's success, a veritable cornucopia of superheroes exploded from various publishers, and they have since been described as everything from the modern descendents of ancient myth cycles to corrupting influences on children. Whatever the current view of superheroes is, however, they are indisputably the comic book format's flagship content.
Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Call Number: PN6728.B36 L647 1998
Publication Date: 1998
Taking place early in Batman's career, this volume by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale focuses on the relationship between Batman and Jim Gordon as they struggle to foil the Holiday Killer--a mysterious serial murderer whose crimes coincide with major holidays. Many other familiar faces from Batman's rogues gallery appear as well, making this an excellent introduction to Batman for new readers.
Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
Call Number: PN6728.C7 2000
Publication Date: 1998
For its first half-century of superhero fiction, DC Comics accommodated the varying versions of their characters in an infinite worlds model that would be more familiar to theoretical physicists than English majors. In this series--one of the first examples of the form that would come to be known as "event comics"--a larger-than-life villain threatened those disparate realities, forcing the heroes of all of them to unite. The result was a single, streamlined universe that would remain DC's standard for the next quarter of a century.
Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers, Volume I by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Call Number: PN6728 .M371 1987 v. 4
Publication Date: 1998
A hardcover collection featuring the first 10 issues of The Avengers comic series by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, recolored with modern coloring techniques.
Superman: The Death of Superman by Dan Jurgens and various artists
Call Number: PN6728.S9 D33 1993 (Library West Paged Collection)
Publication Date: 1993
One of the biggest comic stories of all time, capturing mainstream media attention along with the imaginations of millions of readers in the mid-'90s. It has since been adapted in various forms into animated movies and TV shows.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Volume I by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Call Number: PN6728.T461 1988 v. 1
Publication Date: 1984-1988
A collection of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic series, published by Mirage Studios. Although they inspired the various animated series that have made the Ninja Turtles an enduring household name from the '80s to today, the animated content was considerably retooled and toned down from that of the source material.
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Call Number: PN6728.W3 M66 1987c
Publication Date: 1987
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' clever and nuanced deconstruction of superheroes in a Cold War setting had some influence on virtually all superhero comics that followed it.
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont and John Byrne
Call Number: PN6728.U52D37x 1991
Publication Date: 1991
Chris Claremont shifted the dynamic of X-Men comics, launching them to new heights in popularity by focusing on cosmic fantasy and soap operatic interpersonal crises. The Dark Phoenix Saga is considered by many to be the culmination of his style.
Other Comics/Graphic Novels from UF's Library
Superheroes are not the only thing comics excel at. Here are some selections from UF's library of comics and graphic novels from a wide array of genres, from crime thrillers to memoirs.
The Complete Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay
Call Number: PN6728.L54M28 1990 v. 1-5 (Library West Oversized)
Publication Date: 1990
A complete collection of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strips, originally published in the 1910s. Many later comic artists would be influenced by McCay's deft work.
A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories by Will Eisner
Call Number: PN6727.E4 C66 1996
Publication Date: 1996
Will Eisner is a true innovator in the graphic storytelling format, expanding the limits of the medium with his expressive style and his insistence that comics could and should be literature. This book, A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories, is one of the first to expand the comic book format to full book length, transforming the prevailing notion of comics from funny paper strips to the more literary graphic novel form. Eisner's impact on the industry is so great that he's been immortalized in the form of the Eisner Awards, the comic book industry's equivalent of the Oscars or Grammys.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Call Number: PN6727.B3757Z46 2006
Publication Date: 2006
Maus: A Survivor's Tale, I: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
Call Number: D810.J4 S643 1986
Publication Date: 1986
Maus: A Survivor's Tale, II: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman
Call Number: D804.3 .S66 1991
Publication Date: 1991
The Sandman, Volume I: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman and various artists
Call Number: PN6737.G3 S361 1995
Publication Date: 1995
The Sandman is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable comic book series, thanks in no small part to its author Neil Gaiman's forays into other media, including novels and movies. It also exemplifies the British-tinged fantasy surrealism that DC's Vertigo imprint made its trademark style in the 1990s. Preludes and Nocturnes is the first volume of Gaiman's impressive series.
Too Cool to be Forgotten by Alex Robinson
Call Number: PN6727.R53 T66 2008
Publication Date: 2008
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
Call Number: PN6710 .M335 1994
Publication Date: 1994
Often referred to as “a comic about comics,” Scott McCloud’s book is just that: an exploration of what comics are as an art form, how to approach them, and how to understand them. If you’ve never opened a comic before, this book is an ideal place to start.
The Suzy Covey Comic Book Collection and its sub-collections comprise comics from every era of comics history, from pulp magazines to Silver Age superhero milestones to collections of newspaper strips like Blondie and Prince Valiant. They are used in conjunction with the Comics Studies Program offered by UF's Department of English and housed in the Special Collections area of Smathers Library East. Due to the rarity and requirement for delicate handling of much of the material, the collection is non-circulating. The library occasionally hosts exhibits featuring rare comics from the collection.
ImageTexT is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to visual storytelling, founded by Donald Ault and published for free online by the University of Florida’s English department. The publication is notable both for its wealth of scholarly articles on comics and for the annual comics conventions it hosts at UF.
SAW is a school for sequential artists in Gainesville, Florida founded by Tom Hart, an award-winning independent comics creator. It offers individual workshops as well as formal year-long programs in sequential art.
The Anime Art Museum is dedicated to the art of anime and manga, including displays by UF students. It was founded by artist and UF alumna Carmen CJ Marrero-Akin in 2013.
Comic Reference Books from UF's Libraries
The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide by Robert M. Overstreet
Call Number: PN6725 .O94
Publication Date: Annual
First compiled by Robert M. Overstreet in 1970, The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide is an annual periodical that acts as the bible of comic book collecting. It lists the market value for major publishers’ comics based on the condition the comics are in (the guidelines for the grading of which are published in another Overstreet publication).