Essential geek library: The works of Les Daniels

marvel_five_decades les daniels

I come to praise Les Daniels, not to bury him. But it turns out one of my favorite authors of comic book histories died and I didn’t even hear the sad news.

Daniels – who died in November 2011 at age 68 – is one of those authors to whose work I have returned again and again.

And no wonder. While he wrote fiction, his non-fiction work lines a shelf near by bedside.

In 1971, he wrote one of the early serious histories of comic books, “Comix: A History of the Comic Book in America.”  He followed this up with some of the most readable “official” histories of comic book publishers and characters in print, including “Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics” in 1991, “DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes” in 1995, and what I consider his best modern-day work, a three-volume history of DC Comics’ Trinity, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

These  three”Complete History” volumes were published in the late 1990s and early 2000s and, in addition to his clear and concise writing, feature some of the best design in comic book histories to that day. These volumes include covers by Chip Kidd, a star of the book design world.

Daniels was also an author of historical fiction and historical fiction with a supernatural bent.

There’s so much online – and so much crap online – about comic books these days, Daniels’ work seems – and is -authoritative and comprehensive and first-rate by comparison.

RIP Mr. Daniels.

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