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Perhaps the one thing I like more than comic books seems to be books ABOUT comics. Y’all have probably gathered that one by now, too. I’m also a bit of a Mark Evanier fanboy — turned on to his stuff via Groo which he does with the always brilliant and amazing Sergio Aragonés, though it turns out that he’d done a LOT of other stuff before I was even really aware of him — including writing the Garfield And Friends TV series, which I grew up loving, and still have fond memories of. His website isn’t too shabby either — with histories of comics, animations, comedy (including a pretty complete exploration of Stan Freberg‘s work), among just about everything else of interest for a geek like me. And it helps that he seems to be just a really nice guy.
Comic Books and Other Necessities Of Life is his first volume of his POV columns in the Comic Buyer’s Guide magazine. As such, they’re pretty much exclusively about comics, which is fine by me. See, Mark’s been in the business since 1969 give or take, so he’s either met or worked with all of the greats (including the aforementioned Sergio and Jack Kirby). So, he’s got a lot of great stories about the business… but before being in the business, he was a fan, so he’s got that sort of mindset… not to mention great stories from THAT side, too. There’s lots of stories about the Los Angeles Comic Book Club that he presided over — though not that there was much to preside over, as it was mostly just friends reading and talking about comics and artists.
Mark knows his stuff, too. This volume includes a three volume history of the Comics Code — it’s not as in-depth as Hadju’s The Ten Cent Plague (but Evanier’s piece is only 15 pages, not a whole book), and a bit more fun to read than Seal Of Approval, and like that book a bit more even-handed… even though Mark definitely thinks of Wertham as the bad guy — at least he doesn’t just paint him and Sen. Estes Kefauver as boogeymen.
The book is a very fast read — as one might expect for a collection of magazine columns, as that makes it even easier to just dip into — and very enjoyable. All the more, due to Sergio Aragonés wonderful cartoons running through the book… though, honestly, has Sergio ever done a cartoon that wasn’t wonderful? And, speaking of Sergio, the wonderful essay about him is worth the price of the book alone — there’s a reason he’s called the nicest guy in comics.