Comic Book Nation - Bradford W. Wright

Although the works I have presented so far have all been theoretical in their focus, a clear understanding of the history and development of comics is also crucial for any comprehensive study of the medium. Bradford W. Wright’s Comic Book Nation (2001) addresses this need by providing a socio-cultural history of the comics from their origins until today. It should be noted from the beginning that Wright focuses almost solely on the mainstream American comics but given the longevity and overall cultural influence of the genre, such a focus is only adequate.
Wright starts by the birth of the Superman and the superhero genre it spawned. Following the burgeoning medium into its first golden age, Wright also presents a very interesting and incisive analysis of the socio-cultural environment that provided such a fertile ground for the proliferation of comics.
Covering the reactionary movement against the comic books in the late 40's and 50's that has almost killed the industry, Wright covers the rejuvenation of the medium, consistently providing a very comprehensive analysis all the way up to the beginning of the twentieth century.
As I mentioned earlier, although it presents a through narrative of the history of mainstream comics in America, the real brilliance of Wright's work is its ability to provide a very solid commentary on this narrative.
With the authority of a historian who has done his research properly, Wright provides much valued insights into the causes and effects of significant events in the comics' history. His insights into the motivations and intentions of some of the great figures, like William Gaines and Jack Kirby, prove to be very useful in understanding what these pioneers really achieved.
It should also be noted that although Wright is an avid comic book fan himself, he achieves in being objective while assessing the merits and harms of the cases he presents. I have never got the impression that he is pushing a personal point of view on some figure or work.
Overall, Comic Book Nation is an immensely helpful book that anyone who is interested in studying comics would benefit from. By combining a through historical overview with an illustrative analysis objectively, Wright's work serves a great need in comic book studies and is certainly a highly recommended read.