What comic books are made of

In Super Graphic, Tim Leong presents an infographic guide to the comic book universe. It maps, charts and Venn diagrams its way through facts and figures about characters and storylines – and is utterly charming with it

Detail from Venn diagram of Superhero Tropes

In Super Graphic, Tim Leong presents an infographic guide to the comic book universe. It maps, charts and Venn diagrams its way through facts and figures about characters and storylines – and is utterly charming with it…

The Batman theme, on left, made up of “Batman!” and “Da”; The Joker’s Favourite Question for Batman, on right, is “Why so serious?”

There isn’t a single image of a superhero or supervillain in Leong’s book, but the skill and humour with which he deconstructs their worlds ensures some of the most famous characters, from Batman and Spiderman, through to Magneto and Juggernaut, leap off the page.

People dressed as The Hulk at Comic-Con: just bare (green) skin and padded costume

Stan Lee has author credits on many very famous comics – and some others that you’ve probably never heard of

And it’s not just the superhero landscape that falls under Leong’s analysis: everything from Tintin and Sin City, to Charles Schultz and Cosplay is examined in some way. (There’s even an infographic introduction page which reveals that around a third of the charts and diagrams concern ‘non-superheroes’.)

Detailed guide to the Watchmen, above; and chart showing Changes in Costume Colour

There are graphics revealing Changes in Costume Colour (The Hulk went from grey to green, but Iron Man started out iron-coloured, too?); How Long Characters Stayed Dead; a Chris Ware Sadness Scale, and even a comparison of the respecitve ‘utility belts’ belonging to The Joker and Robin.

The good guys are all about primary colours

Leong clearly loves his subject – and his knowledge of comic books comes across almost as strongly as his unabashed devotion to the medium.

Super Graphic is published by Chronicle (£11.99). Tim Leong is the founder of Comic Foundry magazine and the design director of Fortune magazine, having previously been director of digital design at Wired. More details on the book at Abram and Chronicle’s Facebook page.

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