Infographic Theory

I don’t have a lot of time to write a review, so we’re going with something that we’ll be able to talk about pretty quickly.


Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe by Tim Leong

Infographics are great for folks who have trouble grasping complex data analysis — which really means they’re great for almost everyone. It’s really hard to look at a column of statistics and be able to make hide nor hair of them. A good infographic makes data more clear to the layman, and if designed well, they can actually make data fun.

Tim Leong is a very good designer, a very good number cruncher, and he really likes comic books. And so we get “Super Graphic,” a book full of infographics about comic books.

It’s really difficult to show you how good most of these infographics are, because the book is really stiff, and it’s hard to get it set down on the scanner. Still, I found this one online, so here ’tis:

(Click to embiggen)

Among the other infographics in the book are graphs analyzing manga, the heights and weights of various superheroes, the histories (and mergings) of many comic book publishers, the ingredients of pizzas preferred by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a comparison of superhero-themed roller coasters, the political leanings of comic book characters, the stats on Charlie Brown’s baseball team, the influence of comic books on hip hop, a flow chart on how the Punisher determines who he kills, and much, much, much more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an incredibly clever book, beautifully designed, and grand fun to read.

My primary quibble with this book is that I kinda wanted all of the graphics to include useful data, and some of them are just there for the sake of silliness or showing off Leong’s design chops. For example, “A Personal History of Saying ‘Good Grief’ ” is just a black zigzag on a yellow background — in other words, the pattern on Charlie Brown’s shirt. It’s cute, but that’s about all it is.

But again, that’s a quibble. I had a blast reading the book, pored over all the stats, gloried in the graphic design, and found plenty of things to laugh about and learn from. If you love comics — not just superheroes, but all kinds of comics — and you love the statistics and data and minutiae of hardcore comics continuity study, go pick it up.

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