14 Books from Robert Kanigher’s Summer Reading List
So there’s this magazine called The Comics Journal — perhaps you’ve heard of it? It’s been around since 1977, and it’s known in the industry for printing lengthy interviews with comic creators, pointed editorials (“Todd Loren: First Amendment Advocate or Lying Piece of Shit?”) and its take-no-prisoners approach to reviewing comic books, especially books by the mainstream publishers — all because of its editors’ belief that comic books are serious art forms worthy of literary criticism and discussion. And for a number of years, it was also home to the annual Summer Reading List, a column in which comic writers, artists and editors (among other industry types) were invited to share lists of books they happened to be reading at that moment.
As you might expect, most of the comic professionals approached by the Journal sent back lists filled with how-to art books, biographies of other comic creators, other creators’ latest comics, English Lit classics, history books, political tracts, popular fiction, you name it.
And then there was Robert Kanigher. For those who don’t know him, Kanigher was a bit of a legend during the Silver Age, working on just about every DC property out there, with particularly long runs on Wonder Woman and DC’s stable of war comics during the 1950s and ’60s. He’s also the writer who co-created Sgt. Rock, the Metal Men, the Suicide Squad, Wonder Girl, Poison Ivy, Black Canary, and many other characters still active in the DC Universe.
He was also apparently a bit of a nutter who was known among his colleagues for his violent outbursts and eccentric behavior almost as much as he was for his writing. It was a reputation that Kanigher didn’t exactly dispel with his… let’s call it unique contribution to the Journal’s Summer Reading List.
Call me crazy, but I have a sneaking suspicion only two of the titles below are legit.
1. The Day Comics Ended, Robert Kanigher
2. The Secret Origin of a Comics Editor, Robert Kanigher
3. The Secret Sexual Escapades in Comics, Robert Kanigher
4. Secret Vendettas in Comics, Robert Kanigher
5. Secret Liars in Comics: Julius Schwartz, etc., Robert Kanigher
6. The Secret Brainwashing in Comics, Robert Kanigher
7. The Day Before Comics Ended, Robert Kanigher
8. Comics and the New Impotent, Robert Kanigher
9. Comics and the Old Orgasms, Robert Kanigher
10. Comics: Frontal Lobotomies Without Surgery, Robert Kanigher
11. The Day After Comics Ended, Robert Kanigher
12. How to Make Money Writing for Comics, Cambridge House, 1943 [an early how-t0 book about writing comics that was written by Robert Kanigher, which he did not note in the Journal’s list]
13. Comics: The Ultimate Constipation, Robert Kanigher
14. The Old Testament, Various Anonymous Geniuses