Review :: Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics

September 3, 2012 at 8:00 am By:

This is for all of you out there in Heroesland who were unfamiliar with Joe Kubert and did not understand the importance of his his place in comic’s history or the importance of his (and other’s) stature in the history of our beloved medium.¬†There is nothing to be ashamed of–comics has a long rich history and it is hard to get involved in comics’ past when the present is moving so quickly toward the future.
Now, I love comic books and there is only one thing I love more than Comic Books (besides my wife, daughter, and  those fresh Harris Teeter donuts with the sprinkles) and that is Books about Comics. I am a Comic Lit junkie and I try to read every book that gets published about Comic History and Comics Analysis.  And there is a lot out there.  Some of it is OK, some of it is good and some of it is great.  Most books are for the experienced Comic Enthusiast but  sometimes a book is published for fans who are new to our rich history. And Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics by writer Christopher Irving and photographer Seth Kushner is an ideal place for the initiate to annoint themselves in the rich history of Comic book past. In all honesty, the book is really a Photography Portrait album peppered with quite a few fascinating quotes from the creators themselves.
But the important thing for the newbie is getting to know something about these big name creators included. ¬†For those new to comic history, you get to meet the aforementioned Joe Kubert along with¬†Will Eisner,¬†Neal Adams and dozens of others from the¬†thirties¬†to the present ¬†The book culminates with a section that focuses on today’s young creators who make comics in the digital world.
But essentially,  Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics focuses on the creators rather than the specific works that made them famous.
Each creators section is only about 2-3 pages long and they are filled to the brim with illustrations. And the career recaps are brimming with delightful (and insightful) quotes. ¬†I like to avoid spoilers, so I’ll just direct you to Jim Shooter and Jules Feiffer’s sections to see just what I mean!
Although the book never claims to be all-encompassing,¬†Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics has a few glaring ommisions–namely Jack Cole, the writer/artist of Plastic Man, the Immortal¬†Disney¬†Duck Man Carl Barks and Underground legend¬†Robert¬†Crumb. To these aged eyes, no history of the art form is complete without these three giants.¬†The¬†writer/artist¬†team¬†figured out a way to include Jack Kirby and Siegel & Shuster–they could have just as easily included these three.
There is one other thing I wish the book had providedРa bibliography or Selected Reading List for each creator.  This way the reader would know where to go next while the informative text is still fresh in the memory.
Regardless, this is a solid “first” book for anyone’s Comic History library. ¬†It is available in the Art Book section right next to the comic strip collections!
And for you newbies–why is¬†Leaping Tall Buildings used¬†as the¬†title?
Here is an old cliche: A wife yells “Leap” and a husband responds, “How high?”
In my comic filled, history drenched four-color comic house:¬†My wife screams “Leap” and I respond with “Over Which Tall Building in a single bound??”
That’s why.
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