This work is a reference book compiled about the rich and enduring genre of comic books and graphic novels, from their emergence in the 1930s to their late-century breakout into the mainstream. Comic books have captivated readers since the Famous Funnies of 1930s and have remained popular ever since, even through the censorious 1950s when they were considered to be corrupting the nation's youth. But with the advent of the graphic novel in the late 1970s, such as Will Eisner's early classic, A Contract with God, his form of reading entertainment truly came of age as a revealing literature of our culture. At a time when graphic novels have expanded beyond their fan cults to become mainstream bestsellers and sources for Hollywood entertainment, This volume serves as an exploration of the genre's history, its landmark creators and creations, and its profound influence on American life and culture. It focuses on English-language comics, plus a small selection of influential Japanese and European works available in English, with special emphasis on the new graphic novel format that emerged in the 1970s. Entries cover influential comic artists and writers such as Will Eisner, Alan Moore, and Grant Morrison, major genres and themes, and specific characters, comic book imprints, and landmark titles, including the pulp noir 100 Bullets, the post-apocalyptic Y: The Last Man, the revisionist superhero drama, Identity Crisis, and more. Key franchises such as Superman and Batman are the center of a constellation of related entries that include graphic novels and other imprints featuring the same characters or material.