Books about comic books and comic book characters have grown in volume over the past few years. While some, such as Bob Handelman’s biography of Will Eisner, have received mainstream notice, many others fly under the radar.
Texas-based publisher BenBella Books has begun including comic book characters in their SmartPop series of essay collections. They dipped into the world of four-color heroes last year with collections pondering the X-Men and Superman.
Just out, in plenty of time for May 3’s release of Spider-Man 3, is their latest volume Webslinger: Unauthorized Essays on Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Essayists include comic professionals, science fiction authors and other pop culture mavens. Guest editing is television writer and former DC and Marvel Comics editor Gerry Conway, who wrote a long, celebrated run of Amazing Spider-Man and provides some personal insights into the character in his introduction. The other writers are Darren Hudson Hick, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Robert B. Taylor, Lou Anders, Richard Hanley, Matthew Pustz, Michael A. Burstein, Joseph McCabe, Keith DeCandido, Robert Greenberger, Brett Chandler Patterson, J.R. Fettinger, Adam-Troy Castro, Paul Lytle, David Hopkins, Robert Burke Richardson, and Michael Marano.
SmartPop will also devote volumes to Wonder Woman and Batman, although neither are scheduled.