Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics (1993) is a fantastic look at comics, describing the art form as a medium of storytelling and not as a genre of other forms of storytelling. McCloud, accomplished creator of a series Zot!, uses this book, in the form of a comic (or graphic novel), to dissect the comics art form (and often simultaneously other media) into its basic components.
McCloud defines comics by presenting the history of comics, and often art and writing in general, which go back thousands of years. Also contained in this book is the vocabulary of comics, and an explanation of the interaction between a comic reader and a comic, as opposed to how a viewer of TV or a movie might interact with those particular media in a less involved manner. He also shows/tells of the composition of storytelling, bringing up ideas like pacing, types of lines used, and what information is conveyed based in those lines, and much more.
Understanding Comics also acts as an index, though minimally, for other comicsmith's works. McCloud imitates many famous and popular comics artists to provide examples of their styles and often cites who he is copying, so if you see something you like, you can look at the text above, below or next to the panel, or in several cases, the final page of the book acts as a bibliography of copyright information that will give you ideas on where to look, which titles and publishers, to discover these artists' works for yourself.
This is a well-studied explanation of how comics work and what potential thier future might hold, which may be explained more in depth in his next book, 2000's Reinventing Comics. In 2006/2007, Scott McCloud will be visiting all 50 states to promote his latest book, Making Comics. You can visit Scott McCloud on the internet and find out more about the man and his creations at Scott McCloud.com .
The previously mentioned work is available at finer libraries, comic book shops and independent book dealers everywhere, in addition to those other places that may not need your support as much.