Comic Books Incorporated tells the story of the US comic book business, reframing the entire history of the medium through an industrial and transmedial lens. Comic books wielded their influence from the margins and in-between spaces of the entertainment business for half a century before moving to the center of mainstream film and television production. This extraordinary history begins at the medium's origin in the 1930s, when comics were a reviled, disorganized, and lowbrow mass medium. Visiting critical moments along the way--market crashes, corporate takeovers, upheavals in distribution and financial transformations--Shawna Kidman concludes this revisionist history in the early 2000s, once Hollywood had fully incorporated comic book properties and strategies into its business models. The medium had transformed into the heavily exploited, exceedingly corporate, and highly esteemed niche art form we know so well today.
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Comic Books Incorporated brings an industrial-history perspective to comics studies, addressing aspects, such as copyright, licensing, distribution, regulation, and creative networks, that often have been ignored. Comics are integral to today's media landscape, but this account thoughtfully outlines how they became so and sheds light on their paradoxical status as both niche and mainstream content. Comic Books Incorporated is rock solid in its historical contribution and yet accessible to general readers seeking to know more about the business considerations that shaped their favorite comics publishers.--Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide A much-needed book. Its singular focus on institutional history, encompassing financial and legal histories of the industry, gives it freshness and real value.--Scott Bukatman, author of Hellboy's World: Comics and Monsters on the Margins Shawna Kidman makes fascinating and important connections between comics publishing and distribution and wider issues in media culture that scholars haven't made or even approached before.--Derek Kompare, editor of Making Media Work: Cultures of Management in the Entertainment Industries An extraordinary achievement and a major contribution to the field of film and media studies.--Eric Hoyt, author of Hollywood Vault: Film Libraries before Home Video