Greetings, and welcome to Brave and Bold! As a historian and a comic book connoisseur, I have a collection of books related to comic book study and history. Today I would like to recommend to you the brilliant work of Mr Arlen Schumer. Arlen is a member of the Society of Illustrators, creating comic book style art for advertising and editorial usage, and a foremost comic book historian. He has been an inspiration to me ever since I started my research and has become a great friend of mine. In this article I would like to explore his book and give it the review it deserves.
As Jon B. Cooke’s writing in the opening section of Arlen Schumer’s The Silver Age of Comic Book Art’s dust cover states, it is “a book unlike any ever before seen, The Silver Age of Comic Book Art is multi-talented Arlen Schumer’s dazzling pop-art tribute to the great mainstream artists working in the field of sequential art during the 1960s.”
Arlen’s book focusses on eight brilliant artists of the Silver Age including two of my personal favourites: The great Steve Ditko, and the incredible Joe Kubert. As both of these chapters are going to be used for the work I am completing for my Masters degree I will focus on them here to show how much work and artistic flair has gone into this incredible book.
We shall begin with his chapter on Steve Ditko. As you can see from this page, Arlen’s book is a pure visual treat for any silver age comic fan and seeing the art displayed in this way like a museum is truly mind-blowing. By replacing the original text from the speech balloons and thought bubbles with quotes from Ditko himself, Arlen creates a dynamic and exciting window into the history of comic book art and proves just how important the art is to the study of comic books as history.
Of course, there are some amazing books out there about the history of comic books that are standard, academic works, but Arlen’s coffee table book surpasses all of them as it respects the art, the stories, and the history in a way that I have not seen before or since.
You can see in every page of this book that Arlen has a passion for comic books that cannot be denied. There are some historians that have taken comic books, looked at the stories, and made some effort into making them a serious part of the historical primary source landscape, but I do not think anybody has done a better job of showing how seriously comic books can be taken as art and history than Arlen Schumer.
The copy I have of the book is the hardcover, revised edition, it is printed on glorious, high quality paper, and if you order it from his site you can get it signed just like mine: http://silverageofcomicbookart.com/
This book screams of quality, passion, history, and art. This book and this art should be looked at with the same love and reverence that is given to Taschen’s art books. I would place Steve Ditko and Piet Mondrian in the same realm of beautiful, talented artwork, and Arlen’s glorious work proves this analysis to be not only right but an undeniable fact.
So, to conclude, if you have any interest in comic books, history, or art, Arlen’s book belongs on your shelf, in your library, on your table, wherever you want to place it, you need to read it. Just like the comics that inspired it, digital images do not do it justice. I hope you love it as much as I do, and if you are still not convinced, I will leave you with Arlen’s lecture based on this very book.
Keep reading true believers!
Until next time, Josh signing off!