Posted Mar 7, 2010 in Arts | 0 Comments

The Coffee Table Book Explosion


Comics have come a long way in the last decade. The basic stapled comic format still exists, but it is now published on high-quality glossy paper that supports millions of vibrant colours. Recently, graphic novels have also grown in popularity. These books can be original stories, but often are multi-issue collections of the standard comics most of us remember from corner store racks.

Perhaps to win some legitimacy and to fight the interminable image that comics are for kids, comics are now taking their rightful place on the coffee table. Here are some great examples:

X Men

Though not as stunning as other coffee table books, Marvel’s Omnibus editions contain stories spanning several years. Check out the best X-Men story ever written, Grant Morrison’s New X-Men Omnibus bible, clocking in at 1096 pages!

Sandman Absolute

The Sandman Absolute Editions are the most impressive hardcovers ever produced. Each simulated-leather, hardcover tome is sheathed in a thick, cardboard stock slipcase. Written by Neil Gaiman, the Shakespeare of comics, the Sandman opus was originally published in 1989, garnering new adult fans like no other comic before or since.

The Rocketeer

Remember the 1991 Rocketeer movie, one of the best comic-to-movie adaptations ever made? Just released, Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures marvelously reprints and re-colours every Rocketeer comic. Rich with sketches, promo art, and commentary, it is a fitting post mortem tribute to a master artist. Sadly, Dave Stevens died of leukemia in 2008.

Hellboy V2

Hellboy Library Editions are my personal favourite coffee table graphic novels. Each includes two complete stories, along with sketches and commentary. The whole is packaged handsomely in a jet-black, fabric-wrapped hardcover book. If you like the movies, hell, even if you don’t, check out Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. No comic book artist in history has ever been able to accomplish so much with so few lines.

With these wonderful suggestions, it’s time to push aside that dusty book of Impressionist art or Soho lofts you never crack open and make room on your table for something that you’ll actually want to read.

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