“When it comes to comics, Hillary Chute asks all the right questions.”
— Scott McCloud, Author of Understanding Comics and The Sculptor
“In her wonderful book, Hillary L. Chute suggests that we’re in a blooming, expanding era of the art… Chute’s often lovely, sensitive discussions of individual expression in independent comics seem so right and true.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Hillary Chute, who may be to comics studies what Art Spiegelman is to comics, brings her academic rigor to an examination of this oft-underappreciated art form. Her supple, nuanced understanding of how to read comics—not only why—begins with an emphasis on the difference between simply reading comics and knowing how to read comics, and continues with a deep dive into genres and themes.”
— Karen Green, Curator for Comics and Cartoons, Columbia University
“Why Comics? is a riveting compendium of history, humor, politics, punk, sex, violence, and the occasional superhero. Hillary Chute has given us the stories behind some of the most subversive literature of our time. You want to read this book.”
— Lauren Redniss, MacArthur Fellow and Author of Radioactive and Thunder & Lightning
“Hillary Chute is the scholar comics has been waiting for—passionate, eloquent, encyclopedically knowledgeable, and profoundly in sync with the medium.”
— Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians
The massive impact that comics have had on our culture becomes more and more clear every day, from the critically acclaimed musical Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s groundbreaking comic, to the dozens of superhero films hitting cinemas every year. What is it that makes comics so special? What can this unique art form do that others can’t?
In Why Comics?, comics scholar Hillary Chute reveals the history of comics, underground comics (or comix), and graphic novels, through deep thematic analysis, and fascinating portraits of the fearless men and women behind them.
As Scott McCloud revealed the methods behind comics and the way they worked in his classic Understanding Comics, Chute will reveal the themes that comics handle best, and how the form is uniquely equipped to explore them.
WHY THE SUBURBS?
WHY ILLNESS & DISABILITY?
CODA: WHY FANS?
Chute has created an indispensable guide to comics for those new to the genre, or those who want to understand more about what lies behind their favorite works.
Filled with beautiful full-color art, dynamic storytelling, and insightful analysis, Why Comics? reveals what makes one of the most critically acclaimed and popular art forms unique and so appealing, and how it got that way.
Whether you’ve read every comic you can get your hands on or you’re just starting your journey, Why Comics? has something for you. Author Hillary Chute chronicles comics culture, explaining underground comics (also known as “comix”) and graphic novels, analyzing their evolution, and offering fascinating portraits of the creative men and women behind them. Chute reveals why these works—a blend of concise words and striking visuals—are an extraordinarily powerful form of expression that stimulates us intellectually and emotionally.
Focusing on ten major themes—disaster, superheroes, sex, the suburbs, cities, punk, illness and disability, girls, war, and queerness—Chute explains how comics gets its messages across more effectively than any other form.
“Why Disaster?” explores how comics are uniquely suited to convey the scale and disorientation of calamity, from Art Spiegelman’s representation of the Holocaust and 9/11 to Keiji Nakazawa’s focus on Hiroshima.
“Why the Suburbs?” examines how the work of Chris Ware and Charles Burns illustrates the quiet joys and struggles of suburban existence; and “Why Punk?” delves into how comics inspire and reflect the punk movement’s DIY aesthetics—giving birth to a democratic medium increasingly embraced by some of today’s most significant artists.
Featuring full-color reproductions of more than one hundred essential pages and panels, including some famous but never-before-reprinted images from comics legends, Why Comics? is an indispensable guide that offers a deep understanding of this influential art form and its masters
Format: New, Hardcover
Published: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Harper; Illustrated edition
Dimensions: 6" x 1.28" x 9
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2 (For more information, see Contact Us/FAQS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hillary Chute is an expert on comics and graphic narratives, professor of English and Art + Design at Northeastern University, and the author of Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics; Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists; and Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form.
She is also the associate editor of Art Spiegelman’s MetaMaus. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.