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Friday, August 20, 2010

DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book

Celebrating 75 years of DC Comics in an original and entertaining fashion, Quirk Books have just published their oversized selection of 100 covers ranging from the classics—Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27—to the bizarre—Leave it to Binky anyone?—and touching base with many of the major characters and genres that DC have published over the years.

This isn't just a collection of superhero covers, although they do dominate the book. I guess when you're the publisher of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Justice League, etc., etc., etc., that's going to happen. It's the covers from slightly off the superhero trail that can be the most interesting: the first appearances of superheroes are iconic images that you're likely to have seen time and time again, but how about Mr. District Attorney or Heart Throbs which featured the kind of image that had Lichtenstein reaching for his tracing paper.

Printed chronologically, you do notice the sea change that occurred in the 1980s: Frank Miller's boldly executed Ronin and Dark Knight covers, Steve Bissette & John Totleben's lush, romantic Swamp Thing, the simplicity and power of Dave Gibbons' Watchmen smiley badge image. From there into the Vertigo era of Dave McKean, Brian Bolland and Glenn Fabry and up-to-date with the death of Batman, via Alex Ross, Dave Johnson and James Jean. The modern DC comic ranges from the photoreal of Alex Ross to the stylised pop art of Darwyn Cooke with plenty of variation in between, breathing new life into characters that are, as the title implies, upwards of 75 years old and have been depicted thousands of times on covers.

As well as reprinting the covers at a much larger size than their original appearance—about 36 x 28 cm (or 14 x 11 inches for anyone who hasn't converted to metric yet)—each page is perforated so you can strip out your favourites and they're ready to pin to your wall. But why would you want to spoil the book that way...?

DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book with commentary by Robert Schnakenberg. Quirk Books ISBN 978-159474462-4, 18 August 2010.

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