The best comic book history books

Who am I?

I’m the author of Is Superman Circumcised? The Complete Jewish History of the World's Greatest Hero, which won the 2021 Diagram Prize, and The Darkness in Lee's Closet and the Others Waiting There. I write about pop culture for The Forward and CNN.com. My writing has appeared in a range of publications, including New York Daily News, Jerusalem Post, and Philosophy Now. I’ve taught English and writing at the City University of New York and am a former writer-in-residence fellow at the New York Public Library.


I wrote...

Is Superman Circumcised?: The Complete Jewish History of the World's Greatest Hero

By Roy Schwartz,

Book cover of Is Superman Circumcised?: The Complete Jewish History of the World's Greatest Hero

What is my book about?

Superman is the most famous character in the world. He's the first superhero, an American icon—and he's Jewish! Exploring the underlying themes of a beloved modern mythology, Is Superman Circumcised? is a fascinating journey through comic book lore, American history, and Jewish tradition, sure to give readers a newfound appreciation for the Mensch of Steel!

The books I picked & why

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A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee

By Danny Fingeroth,

Book cover of A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee

Why this book?

There are several biographies of comics luminary Stan Lee, official and unofficial, and this one is the best. It’s insightful, evenhanded, and engaging. As a former longtime editor of the Spider-Man titles at Marvel who’s worked with Lee in different capacities and is now a pop culture historian, author Danny Fingeroth combines an industry insider’s knowledge with a wider context. Highly recommended! 


Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero

By Larry Tye,

Book cover of Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero

Why this book?

Larry Tye brings a lifelong fan’s passion and a renowned journalist’s research skills to the ultimate biography of the Man of Steel. It’s comprehensive and full of amazing stories and facts that weren’t known before, but more impressively it’s entertaining to read, from start to finish. It’s a great book for anyone interested in Americana, pop culture, or Superman.


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

By Michael Chabon,

Book cover of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Why this book?

This novel won the Pulitzer Prize for a reason. It’s a remarkable story about family, friendship, identity, America, and so many other things. Michael Chabon, a bona fide comic book fan, set it in the early days of the industry, weaving in real and fictionalized versions of its history. The book is highly recommended to anyone, but it’s a must-read for anyone who considers themselves a real comic book fan.


75 Years of DC Comics. the Art of Modern Mythmaking

By Paul Levitz,

Book cover of 75 Years of DC Comics. the Art of Modern Mythmaking

Why this book?

Paul Levitz was a writer, editor, editor in chief, publisher, and president of DC Comics for decades. This oversized coffee table book is a treasure trove of his insights, memories, and analysis. It’s the definitive history of DC, which only he could write. And it’s full of fun colorful images, making it interesting to younger readers as well as a perfect gift to any pop culture or comics lover.


The Fantastic Four Omnibus Volume 1

By Stan Lee,

Book cover of The Fantastic Four Omnibus Volume 1

Why this book?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be this edition, but do yourself a favor and read the original Stan Lee & Jack Kirby run on Fantastic Four. It’s a comic that revolutionized the industry, established Marvel as we know it, and it’s fun, exciting, inventive, and straightforward in a way that few comics are today. It’s Lee & Kirby’s high-water mark, before or since.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in cartoonists, pop culture, and superheros?

5,716 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about cartoonists, pop culture, and superheros.

Cartoonists Explore 32 books about cartoonists
Pop Culture Explore 78 books about pop culture
Superheros Explore 41 books about superheros

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Sapiens, A Gentleman in Moscow, and The Ten-Cent Plague if you like this list.