Cover image for Faster than a speeding bullet : the rise of the graphic novel
Faster than a speeding bullet : the rise of the graphic novel
Weiner, Stephen, 1955-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : NBM, [2003]

Physical Description:
xi, 64 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN6710 .W44 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



It took a few years of false starts, but now it's official: the graphic novel form is the fastest growing new area in publishing. Stephen Weiner (author of The 101 Best Graphic Novels), grabs hold of this rising meteor to offer his readers a historical tour of this format with a bit of background on comics as a whole.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

A quickie guide to the history of comics by the author of The 101 Best Graphic Novels, this slim tome covers the usual ground in few new ways. Weiner begins with the rise of the commercial comic strip, follows the medium into comic books and superheroes, then up through the turbulent 1960s underground, and on into Will Eisner's work, the mature superheroics of the '80s, the epochal Maus and the new alternative comics. Along the way, Weiner does something unique: he describes the history of the graphic novel in the book trade. Though his facts are a little fuzzy (e.g., the first graphic novel from a mainstream publisher remains far murkier than his claim for Eisner's A Contract With God), this is a noteworthy attempt to trace the current boom in the industry and to distance thematic and commercial relatives such as Eisner, or Jules Feiffer's Tantrum. But this one diversion aside, the effort reeks of a quick cash-in. Although it purports to be history, it focuses only on what's strong in the marketplace today (e.g., Neil Gaiman, Bone, etc.), and ignores lesser known but equally available titles. And so while Weiner can put all those bestsellers in some context, his book won't take readers, buyers or librarians anywhere new. The graphic novel is, as Weiner claims, an exciting new frontier with old roots, and as such it needs a stronger treatment than this. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

In this useful short history, Weiner (The 101 Best Graphic Novels) discusses the history of comic strips and books in the United States, citing some highlights of various periods before launching into a more extensive account of the rise of the GN format as a way of packaging and selling comics stories. Weiner discusses many of the format's milestone works, including Will Eisner's seminal 1978 book, A Contract with God (for which Eisner first coined the term graphic novel), along with Maus, Watchmen, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Elfquest, Bone, Sandman, and Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. Weiner also traces the increasing attention given to GNs over the past two decades by mainstream publishers, movie producers, the book trade, the general media, academia, and libraries. More information about European and, especially, Japanese GNs would have been welcome (they're dealt with only briefly here), but this is a solid work on American publications. With a cover by Jeff Smith and a foreword by Eisner, this is recommended for all collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Will Eisner
Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xi
1. The First Comics: Americans Embrace a New Art Formp. 1
2. The 1950s: The Shadow of McCarthyismp. 5
3. The 1960s: Troubled Heroes for Troubled Timesp. 9
4. The Comic Book Store: Fans Find a Homep. 13
5. The Graphic Novel: Comics Take Themselves Seriouslyp. 17
6. Trade Publishers and Comics: An Uneasy Alliancep. 21
7. Opening the Gates: The Comics Field Growsp. 25
8. The New Heroes: Would You Let this Man Marry Your Sister?p. 29
9. Maus: Surviving and Thrivingp. 35
10. The Sandman: A New Mythologyp. 39
11. Bone Wars: The Paradigm Shifts into High Gearp. 43
12. Understanding Comics: The Dream of a Common Languagep. 47
13. A Message in a Bottle: Notes from the Undergroundp. 51
14. The Future: Ready, Set, It's Comingp. 59
Further Readingp. 63