Peter Sanderson
Sanderson at the 2015 East Coast Comicon in Secaucus, New Jersey
Born (1952-04-25) April 25, 1952 (age 71)
Milton, Massachusetts
Area(s)Writer, historian, critic, academic
Notable works
Marvel Saga
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

Peter Sanderson Jr. (born April 25, 1952)[1] is a comic book critic and historian,[2] as well as an instructor/lecturer in the New York area concerning the study of graphic novels/comic books as literature.[3][dubious ]

He is best known for his work as a researcher at the two main American comics companies, DC and Marvel, where he helped to catalog the various fictional characters that comprised their respective continuities, including Victor Timely.


As a teenager, and later, at Columbia University, Sanderson's first involvement in the comics field was as a "letterhack," a frequent contributor to comic book letter columns. His missives impressed DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz enough for Schwartz expand the letter columns in some titles to a second, separate page (such as "Flash-Grams — Extra", "Letters To the Batcave — Extra", and "JLA Mailroom — Special Peter Sanderson Edition") to facilitate Sanderson's analysis.[4] In the early 1980s Sanderson wrote for comics hobbyist magazines, including The Comics Journal, Amazing Heroes,[5] and Comics Feature.

From there, Sanderson broke into the comic book industry proper. He was first hired by DC Comics, where he was given the task of reading every comic book published by the company since 1935. His research was used by Len Wein to write Who's Who in the DC Universe.[6] Sanderson then went to work for Marvel Comics, where he was mentored by writer/editor Mark Gruenwald as Marvel's first scholar and archivist, which saw Sanderson placed in charge of Marvel's library.[7] Sanderson contributed as a researcher on the various Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe series in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Sanderson was also the writer of the Marvel Saga and Wolverine Saga limited series. These titles did not follow the typical art-centered comic book format. Instead, the two series were prose chronicles of the fictional histories of comic book characters, which Sanderson culled from previous titles Marvel had published over the years. The text was supplemented by individual panels excerpted from the comic books that served as Sanderson's sources.

Sanderson writes an online column entitled Comics in Context, which (in Sanderson's own words) is "a weekly series of critical essays on comics, cartoon art, and related subjects" (those "related subjects" can run the gamut from film adaptations of comic books, to other media that have been influenced by comics, such as Star Wars). The series started on July 8, 2003 on the website IGN, but then moved to the Kevin Smith-affiliated website Quick Stop Entertainment on June 23, 2006; according to Sanderson, the "Powers That Be" in charge of IGN's comics section began to tamper with the titles of his columns and complain about some of the topics he covered, whereby a "change of scenery" was necessary.[8] After a seventeen-month hiatus, Comics in Context returned to the newly rebranded A Site Called Fred on January 19, 2010.[9]

Outside of his online writings, Sanderson has also had a number of books published (including The Marvel Vault and The Marvel Travel Guide to New York),[10] taught the class The Graphic Novel as Literature at New York University,[11] curated an exhibition on Stan Lee for the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art,[12] and reviews the latest in comics and comics-related material for Publishers Weekly.

In April 2017, Sanderson contributed a segment of a retrospective article on his late mentor Mark Gruenwald for Back Issue! magazine #103. The segment focused on the academic and scholarly nature of Sanderson and Gruenwald's working relationship.[7]

Personal life

In April 2017 Sanderson was hospitalized with hip fracture resulting from a fall. This prevented him from writing a retrospective article on his mentor, Mark Gruenwald, that he had suggested to editor Michael Eury for the April 2018 issue of Back Issue! magazine, though he did contribute a segment for that article.[7]






  1. ^ Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2010. In print issue #1650 (February 2009), p. 107
  2. ^ "Vital Statistics", The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition, #4 (March 1985)
  3. ^ Comics in Context #58: Crisis of Conscience
  4. ^ Hembeck, Fred. "The Fred Hembeck Show: Episode 21." IGN Entertainment, August 2, 2005. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
  5. ^ Sanderson entry, Who's Who of American Comics Books, 1928–1999. Retrieved Nov. 26, 2020.
  6. ^ Index to Comic Art Collection Archived 2007-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b c Schuller, Catherine (April 2018). "Gru the Influencer: Leaving an Indelible Mark", Back Issue! #103. p. 35.
  8. ^ Comics in Context #134: Cineplex-Men Archived 2007-12-19 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ A Site Called Fred
  10. ^ The Beat’s Annual Survey 2008 Edition Part 2 Archived 2012-07-14 at
  12. ^ MoCCA Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine