DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book

DC Comics 75th Anniversary

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When I was first getting back into comics in high school, Marvel released a magazine-sized “poster book” that featured something like 30 of their current comic covers printed vertically across two-page spreads. If you wanted to hang a poster on your wall you’d have to disassemble the book by removing each set of pages starting from the middle  and working outward. At the time I thought that book was ridiculously cool, and about 12 of those posters adorned my bedroom wall forever. When I heard about Quirk BooksDC Comics 75th Anniversary Poster Book, I rather thought it’d be the same thing.

But Quirk has done a lot more than merely enlarge cover artwork. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’ve created art themselves. The 75th Anniversary Poster Book is a beautifully put-together celebration of the history of DC Comics through its most important frontpieces. 100 covers are shown in gigantic 11 x 14 cardstock glory, with another 200 cover thumbnails providing supplemental art on each page’s flipside. Every sheet is perforated to allow for the easy removal of favorite pieces, and the backsides of every entry feature a couple paragraphs that bestow pertinent information for the image being celebrated, sometimes from the original artists themselves.

Quirk has done a tremendous job of picking covers that run the gamut from historical (New Fun #1) to modern (Y the Last Man #16, a personal favorite), from iconic (Action #1, Detective #27) to truly bizarre (Strange Adventures #79). All the while writer Robert Schnakenberg provides insightful commentary on what really makes each image pop. My favorite thing about this book, actually, is that Robert isn’t afraid to be a critic. When I reviewed Titan Books’ Icons: Jim Lee a few months ago I became really peeved with how its writer basically spat out a gigantic puff piece with little true insight. That’s not the case here; Schnakenberg seems happy to have a little fun with his subject and point out some of the more ridiculous aspects of DC’s history. You’ll marvel at how often monkeys appear on covers, for instance.

I also like that Schnakenberg provides some dissenting points of view when it’s especially relevant. For instance, after a blurb about Adam Hughes‘ tenure on Wonder Woman, we get a counterpoint from Dave Johnson that essentially dismisses all of Hughes’ work with women as pointless cheesecake. It’s nice that Schnakenberg isn’t afraid to look at both sides of an issue, and the book ends up feeling more like a true history lesson than some laudatory praisefest would have.

I hate to sound like a paid spokesman (believe me, I’m not), but The DC Comics 75th Anniversary Poster Book is something I think a person needs two of to really enjoy. As much as I want to hang some of these tremendous covers on the wall, I can’t bring myself to rip pages out of what’s essentially a brilliant coffee table book. I think that’s really a testament to the fact that Quirk Books has created something that truly surpasses the disposable nature inherent in most poster collections. What they’ve made is an indispensable reference book perfect for any fan of DC, comic history or comic art in general. Here’s to another one in 75 years, eh?

tags: dc comics, quirk books, robert schnakenberg

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