Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 3, 2006

A history of fantasy and adventure

By Mark Allen

Editor’s Note: The Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection Spotlight is a new monthly feature for the Daily Democrat.

Written by Michael Vance and Mark Allen, this column will include reviews of current comic book series as well as features on Oklahoma Cartoonists. Pauls Valley’s Toy and Action Figure Museum is the home of The Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection.

For more columns by Vance and Allen, go to the Daily Democrat’s web site at and click on the OCC link in the Arts and History section of the web site or go to

Ron Goulart is the author of an incredibly informative and fun (that's right, FUN) history book published in 2001 called Great American Comic Books.

What, you never considered the world of comics having a history? You'd be shocked, my friend, at what an

interesting, and colorful (pun intended) history it is. You see, Goulart doesn't just cover the progression of the genre, from collections of comic strip reprints, to the first comics containing original stories containing pulp heroes, the emergence of super heroes, the age of crime comics, horror comics, etc., etc.

He also includes details of many creators, themselves. People such as Major Malcom Wheeler-Nicholson, a retired cavalry officer who founded the company today known as D.C. Comics.

Stories such as this prove the point that reality is sometimes as interesting as fiction.

Goulart also sheds light on important events in the history of comics, such as the flames of the "anti-comic hysteria" of the '50's, which were fanned by injurious articles in magazines such as Collier's, Saturday Review, Newsweek and Time, as well as blunt criticism from psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, in his book Seduction of The Innocent. Not to mention the Senate hearings to which it all eventually led.

Perhaps even more entertaining, however, are the hundreds of color illustrations of strips, panels and covers Goulart includes in his book. A fan can easily get caught up in them, alone.

This is far more, however, than reference material. It is to be read and enjoyed, that one may, hopefully, better appreciate the progression of comics themselves.

Great American Comic Books is recommended for anyone interested, not just in the history of the genre, but the genre in general. I can sum it up no better than a blurb from the description on the dust jacket: "It's as much fun as comic books themselves!"

Now out of print, shop bookstores and online retailers and auctions for the best deals.