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bam! prisoners! Comic books can be so dazzling with the colors and shapes that they seem larger than the pages they’re printed on, whether it’s superheroes battling villains, or a colorful world of home appliances. But while we’re used to seeing what’s on the page, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of comic books. There is the same comic book world where creators dream of new characters and worlds. There are also the politics of writers and artists competing for gigs.
Then there’s the world of comic book stores that nurture our love of comics and the beauty and silliness of comic book conventions where fans and creators gather and celebrate their favorite works. Of course, there are text books that take a page from the world of superheroes that we’re used to seeing in floppy disks (and yes, I see how many times I can use the page as a pun) and books about people who really love comics.
In honor of the comic book world, I’ve compiled a list of fiction books about the comic book world. These books cover a variety of genres from murder mystery to youth fiction.
Secret Identity by Alex Segura
I wrote this list entirely in honor of this recently published work. While we now live in a world of blockbuster comic book movies, this murder mystery takes place in 1975 New York when people thought the comic industry was dying. Carmen Valdez loves comics, and all she wants to do is be a part of them. She’s got a job as an assistant to the president of Triumph Comics, but he won’t even consider her ideas. When a work friend comes to her with the idea of a collaboration, she dives in to bring out a new superhero, Lethal Lynx. But when her friend was murdered, she also found out that he had sent the material without her approval. She decided to bring justice to her colleague and herself. Furthermore, there are incredible illustrations of Lethal Lynx by artist Sandy Jarrell with lettering by Taylor Esposito. There will be a follow-up focused on Lethal Lynx, like Chabon The quitter.
Verona Caricature of Jennifer Duggan
Think Romeo and Juliet but with comic book stores. Jubilee works at her mom’s independent comic book store when she’s not playing cello, and Ridley’s parents own the largest comic book store chain in the country. When the two accidentally meet at a prom at a comedy convention, they fall in love with each other, despite the fact that their families can’t stand each other. Could they meet though with daggers from both sides? Can Jubilee win the major competition or has to choose?
The Amazing Boy composed by Rabindranath Maharaj
When Samuel’s mother died, he was sent from his home in Trinidad to live with his father in Toronto. As he discovers he was not particularly welcomed by his father, he explores this new city using his love of comic books as his guide. It’s a story about Toronto, finding oneself, and how comics can be a bridge through childhood, adulthood, home, and new places.
The Adventures of Cavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
This book should be on the list. Segura has said in several interviews how he was the inspiration for this book. It’s easy to see why. Set in America before World War II, two cousins from different backgrounds collaborate to create new superheroes. Joe Cavalier is an escape artist/magician who uses his skills to get out of Europe when the Nazis take over. His cousin Sam Clay was born and raised in Brooklyn. The two combine their skill sets The quitterAnd the Luna the moth, and others. It is a true window into the region, the comic book industry in its golden age, and the lives of these two men. In addition to having a comic independent of The quitter.
A Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love By Sarvinaz Tash
Graham and Roxy first met via a fantasy series and became close friends. Eight years later, they are now big comics fanatics. Graham is very fond of Roxy. So when their favorite comic book maker shows up at the local comic book convention, he gets tickets and plans to profess his love. But the comic book convention is weirder than he expected… including his girlfriend Roxy. Can he find out?
One Hundred Thousand Scientists by Bob Broil
This book is set in the world of comic book conventions where creators and stars travel from hoax to prankster. It shows the behind-the-scenes creators who make friendships, partnerships, and even enemies. While he focuses heavily on the story of Valerie Toure, a hugely popular science fiction show actress, who drives her son across the country to his father. The narrative weaves in and out of the various characters who attended the show.
Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks
It’s another Romeo and Juliet story but this time it’s about intellectual property. Miriam’s grandfather created the blockbuster The TomorrowMen, but he sold his rights decades ago. Now, Myriam is trying to see if she can even think about college while her family is struggling. But when a new boy comes to town, she has a new distraction until she learns that he’s the grandson of the man who bought the rights to TomorrowMen…
Not your buddy by CB Lee
Last but not least, here’s a book that sounds like a comic book with a whimsical touch. Despite having superhuman parents, Jessica Tran is an ordinary kid who doesn’t have super skills. She is still able to get an internship, which will help her with her university applications. But she finds out that it’s with the super villain in her town… so that’s not ideal. But she will continue to deal with it until she discovers a secret that may affect everyone. It is the first in a series of books called Sidekick Squad.
I hope you find these works about the world of comics as fun and engaging as the pages of the comics you read! I hope to see more books of this kind in the future as well.
Want more storyboards? Here’s an overview of the history of comic books, and here’s a list of books about comic book authors.