Winner, John G. Cawelti Award for the Best Textbook/Primer, Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, 2019
MPCA/ACA Book Award, Midwest Popular Culture Association / Midwest American Culture Association, 2020
Taking a multifaceted approach to attitudes toward race through popular culture and the American superhero, All New, All Different? explores a topic that until now has only received more discrete examination. Considering Marvel, DC, and lesser-known texts and heroes, this illuminating work charts eighty years of evolution in the portrayal of race in comics as well as in film and on television.
Beginning with World War II, the authors trace the vexed depictions in early superhero stories, considering both Asian villains and nonwhite sidekicks. While the emergence of Black Panther, Black Lightning, Luke Cage, Storm, and other heroes in the 1960s and 1970s reflected a cultural revolution, the book reveals how nonwhite superheroes nonetheless remained grounded in outdated assumptions. Multiculturalism encouraged further diversity, with 1980s superteams, the minority-run company Milestone’s new characters in the 1990s, and the arrival of Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani-American heroine, and a new Latinx Spider-Man in the 2000s. Concluding with a discussion of contemporary efforts to make both a profit and a positive impact on society, All New, All Different? enriches our understanding of the complex issues of racial representation in American popular culture.
Angelitos: A Graphic Novel
Ilan Stavans and Santiago Cohen The Ohio State University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PN6727.S677A83 2018 | Dewey Decimal 741.5973
From internationally renowned Ilan Stavans, in collaboration with award-winning illustrator Santiago Cohen, comes Angelitos: A Graphic Novel, an explosive new graphic novel about a college student and his interactions with Padre Chinchachoma, a charismatic Catholic priest who devotes himself to rescuing homeless children in Mexico. Though his work gives hope to the desperate masses of children on the streets of Mexico City, his efforts interfere with and infuriate the police—with dire consequences. Set in a deeply classist society and against the backdrop of the tragic destruction of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, the core of the story also revolves around the student’s fear that Padre Chincha might be sexually abusing the children he rescues, at a time and place when such actions went unchecked by the Catholic Church.
Though Angelitos: A Graphic Novel is a fictional retelling of a desperate time, it draws on autobiographical elements to tell the real-life story of Alejandro García Durán de Lara, popularly known as Padre Chinchachoma, a complicated figure revered by some and reviled by others.
In Anime’s Media Mix, Marc Steinberg convincingly shows that anime is far more than a style of Japanese animation. Beyond its immediate form of cartooning, anime is also a unique mode of cultural production and consumption that led to the phenomenon that is today called “media mix” in Japan and “convergence” in the West.
According to Steinberg, both anime and the media mix were ignited on January 1, 1963, when Astro Boy hit Japanese TV screens for the first time. Sponsored by a chocolate manufacturer with savvy marketing skills, Astro Boy quickly became a cultural icon in Japan. He was the poster boy (or, in his case, “sticker boy”) both for Meiji Seika’s chocolates and for what could happen when a goggle-eyed cartoon child fell into the eager clutches of creative marketers. It was only a short step, Steinberg makes clear, from Astro Boy to Pokémon and beyond.
Steinberg traces the cultural genealogy that spawned Astro Boy to the transformations of Japanese media culture that followed—and forward to the even more profound developments in global capitalism supported by the circulation of characters like Doraemon, Hello Kitty, and Suzumiya Haruhi. He details how convergence was sparked by anime, with its astoundingly broad merchandising of images and its franchising across media and commodities. He also explains, for the first time, how the rise of anime cannot be understood properly—historically, economically, and culturally—without grasping the integral role that the media mix played from the start. Engaging with film, animation, and media studies, as well as analyses of consumer culture and theories of capitalism, Steinberg offers the first sustained study of the Japanese mode of convergence that informs global media practices to this day.
Mainstream narratives of the graphic novel’s development describe the form’s “coming of age,” its maturation from pulp infancy to literary adulthood. In Arresting Development, Christopher Pizzino questions these established narratives, arguing that the medium’s history of censorship and marginalization endures in the minds of its present-day readers and, crucially, its authors. Comics and their writers remain burdened by the stigma of literary illegitimacy and the struggles for status that marked their earlier history.
Many graphic novelists are intensely aware of both the medium’s troubled past and their own tenuous status in contemporary culture. Arresting Development presents case studies of four key works—Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Charles Burns’s Black Hole, and Gilbert Hernandez’s Love and Rockets—exploring how their authors engage the problem of comics’ cultural standing. Pizzino illuminates the separation of high and low culture, art and pulp, and sophisticated appreciation and vulgar consumption as continual influences that determine the limits of literature, the status of readers, and the value of the very act of reading.
Born in Mallorca, Pere Joan Riera (known professionally as Pere Joan) thrived in the underground comics world, beginning in the mid-1970s with the self-published collections Baladas Urbanas and MuŽrdago, both of which were released almost immediately after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco and Spain's transition to democracy. The first monograph in English on a comics artist from Spain, The Art of Pere Joan takes a topographical approach to reading comics, applying theories of cultural and urban geography to Pere Joan’s treatment of space and landscape in his singular body of work.
Balancing this goal with an exploration of specific works by Pere Joan, Benjamin Fraser demonstrates that looking at the thematic, structural, and aesthetic originality of the artist's landscape-driven work can help us begin to newly understand the representational properties of comics as a spatial medium. This in-depth examination reveals the resonance between the cultural landscapes of Mallorca and Pere Joan's metaphorical approach to both rural and urban environments in comics that weave emotional, ecological, and artistic strands in revolutionary ways.
The advent of the Atomic Age challenged purveyors of popular culture to explain to the general public the complex scientific and social issues of atomic power. Atomic Comics examines how comic books, comic strips, and other cartoon media represented the Atomic Age from the early 1920s to the present. Through the exploits of superhero figures such as Atomic Man and Spiderman, as well as an array of nuclear adversaries and atomic-themed adventures, the public acquired a new scientific vocabulary and discovered the major controversies surrounding nuclear science. Ferenc Morton Szasz’s thoughtful analysis of the themes, content, and imagery of scores of comics that appeared largely in the United States and Japan offers a fascinating perspective on the way popular culture shaped American comprehension of the fissioned atom for more than three generations.
Authorizing Superhero Comics examines the comic book superhero as a lasting phenomenon of US popular serial storytelling. Moving beyond linear- or creator-centered models of genre development, Daniel Stein identifies authorization conflicts that have driven the genre’s evolution from the late 1930s to the present. These conflicts include paratextually mediated exchanges between officially authorized comic book producers and, alternatively, authorized fans that trouble the distinction between production and its reception; storyworld-building processes that subsume producers and fans into a collective rooted in a common style; parodies that ensure the genre’s longevity by deflating criticism through self-reflexive humor; and collecting and archiving as forms of memory management that align the genre’s past with the demands of the present. Taking seriously the serial agencies of the superhero comic book as a material artifact with a particular mediality, the study analyzes letter columns, editorial commentary, fanzines, encyclopedias, and other forms of comic book communication as critical frameworks for understanding the evolution of the genre—assessing rarely covered archival sources alongside some of the most treasured figures from the superhero’s multi-decade history, from Batman and Spider-Man to Wonder Woman and Captain America.
In Bad Language, Naked Ladies, and Other Threats to the Nation, Anne Rubenstein examines how comic books—which were overwhelmingly popular but extremely controversial in post-revolutionary Mexico—played an important role in the development of a stable, legitimate state. Studying the relationship of the Mexican state to its civil society from the 1930s to the 1970s through comic books and their producers, readers, and censors, Rubenstein shows how these thrilling tales of adventure—and the debates over them—reveal much about Mexico’s cultural nationalism and government attempts to direct, if not control, social change. Since their first appearance in 1934, comic books enjoyed wide readership, often serving as a practical guide to life in booming new cities. Conservative protest against the so-called immorality of these publications, of mass media generally, and of Mexican modernity itself, however, led the Mexican government to establish a censorship office that, while having little impact on the content of comic books, succeeded in directing conservative ire away from government policies and toward the Mexican media. Bad Language, Naked Ladies, and Other Threats to the Nation examines the complex dynamics of the politics of censorship occasioned by Mexican comic books, including the conservative political campaigns against them, government and industrial responses to such campaigns, and the publishers’ championing of Mexican nationalism and their efforts to preserve their publishing empires through informal influence over government policies. Rubenstein’s analysis suggests a new Mexican history after the revolution, one in which negotiation over cultural questions replaced open conflict and mass-media narrative helped ensure political stability. This book will engage readers with an interest in Mexican history, Latin American studies, cultural studies, and popular culture.
The first-ever graphic biography of Paul Robeson, Ballad of an American, charts Robeson’s career as a singer, actor, scholar, athlete, and activist who achieved global fame. Through his films, concerts, and records, he became a potent symbol representing the promise of a multicultural, multiracial American democracy at a time when, despite his stardom, he was denied personal access to his many audiences.
Robeson was a major figure in the rise of anti-colonialism in Africa and elsewhere, and a tireless campaigner for internationalism, peace, and human rights. Later in life, he embraced the civil rights and antiwar movements with the hope that new generations would attain his ideals of a peaceful and abundant world. Ballad of an American features beautifully drawn chapters by artist Sharon Rudahl, a compelling narrative about his life, and an afterword on the lasting impact of Robeson’s work in both the arts and politics. This graphic biography will enable all kinds of readers—especially newer generations who may be unfamiliar with him—to understand his life’s story and everlasting global significance.
Ballad of an American: A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson is published in conjunction with Rutgers University’s centennial commemoration of Robeson’s 1919 graduation from the university.
2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominee, Best Academic/Scholarly Work
In Between Pen and Pixel: Comics, Materiality, and the Book of the Future, Aaron Kashtan argues that paying attention to comics helps us understand the future of the book. Debates over the future of the book tend to focus on text-based literature, particularly fiction. However, because comics make the effects of materiality visible, they offer a clearer demonstration than prose fiction of how the rise of digital reading platforms transforms the reading experience. Comics help us see the effects of alterations in features such as publication design and typography, whereas in print literature, such transformations often go unnoticed.
With case studies of the work of Alison Bechdel, Matt Kindt, Lynda Barry, Carla Speed McNeil, Chris Ware, and Randall Munroe, Kashtan examines print comics that critique digital technology, comics that are remediated from print to digital and vice versa, and comics that combine print and digital functionality. Kashtan argues that comics are adapting to the rise of digital reading technologies more effectively than print literature has yet done. Therefore, looking at comics gives us a preview of what the future of the book looks like. Ultimately, Between Pen and Pixel argues that as print literature becomes more sensitive to issues of materiality and mediacy, print books will increasingly start to resemble to comic books.
Winner of the 2016 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work
Winner of the 2016 Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Edited Collection in Popular Culture and American Culture by the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association
Winner of the 2016 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature
When many think of comic books the first thing that comes to mind are caped crusaders and spandex-wearing super-heroes. Perhaps, inevitably, these images are of white men (and more rarely, women). It was not until the 1970s that African American superheroes such as Luke Cage, Blade, and others emerged. But as this exciting new collection reveals, these superhero comics are only one small component in a wealth of representations of black characters within comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels over the past century.
The Blacker the Ink is the first book to explore not only the diverse range of black characters in comics, but also the multitude of ways that black artists, writers, and publishers have made a mark on the industry. Organized thematically into “panels” in tribute to sequential art published in the funny pages of newspapers, the fifteen original essays take us on a journey that reaches from the African American newspaper comics of the 1930s to the Francophone graphic novels of the 2000s. Even as it demonstrates the wide spectrum of images of African Americans in comics and sequential art, the collection also identifies common character types and themes running through everything from the strip The Boondocks to the graphic novel Nat Turner.
Though it does not shy away from examining the legacy of racial stereotypes in comics and racial biases in the industry, The Blacker the Ink also offers inspiring stories of trailblazing African American artists and writers. Whether you are a diehard comic book fan or a casual reader of the funny pages, these essays will give you a new appreciation for how black characters and creators have brought a vibrant splash of color to the world of comics.
A documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the Rocky theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? Eyes on the Prize, the great civil rights documentary, was pulled from circulation because the filmmakers’ rights to music and footage had expired. What’s going on here? It’s the collision of documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law, and it’s the inspiration for this comic book. Follow its heroine Akiko as she films her documentary and navigates the twists and turns of intellectual property. Why do we have copyrights? What’s “fair use”? Bound by Law? reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property, and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture.
Comics studies has reached a crossroads. Graphic novels have never received more attention and legitimation from scholars, but new canons and new critical discourses have created tensions within a field built on the populist rhetoric of cultural studies. As a result, comics studies has begun to cleave into distinct camps—based primarily in cultural or literary studies—that attempt to dictate the boundaries of the discipline or else resist disciplinarity itself. The consequence is a growing disconnect in the ways that comics scholars talk to each other—or, more frequently, do not talk to each other or even acknowledge each other’s work.
Breaking the Frames: Populism and Prestige in Comics Studies surveys the current state of comics scholarship, interrogating its dominant schools, questioning their mutual estrangement, and challenging their propensity to champion the comics they study. Marc Singer advocates for greater disciplinary diversity and methodological rigor in comics studies, making the case for a field that can embrace more critical and oppositional perspectives. Working through extended readings of some of the most acclaimed comics creators—including Marjane Satrapi, Alan Moore, Kyle Baker, and Chris Ware—Singer demonstrates how comics studies can break out of the celebratory frameworks and restrictive canons that currently define the field to produce new scholarship that expands our understanding of comics and their critics.
In this entertaining cultural history of British comic papers and magazines, James Chapman shows how comics were transformed in the early twentieth century from adult amusement to imaginative reading matter for children.
Beginning with the first British comic, Ally Sloper—known as “A Selection, Side-splitting, Sentimental, and Serious, for the Benefit of Old Boys, Young Boys, Odd Boys generally, and even Girls”—British Comics goes on to describe the heyday of comics in the 1950s and ’60s, when titles such as School Friend and Eagle sold a million copies a week. Chapman also analyzes the major genres, including schoolgirl fantasies and sports and war stories for boys; the development of a new breed of violent comics in the 1970s, including the controversial Action and 2000AD; and the attempt by American publisher, Marvel, to launch a new hero for the British market in the form of Captain Britain. Considering the work of important contemporary comic writers such as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Ian Edginton, Warren Ellis, and Garth Ennis, Chapman’s history comes right up to the present and takes in adult-oriented comics such as Warrior, Crisis, Deadline,and Revolver, and alternative comics such as Viz.
Through a look at the changing structure of the comic publishing industry and how comic publishers, writers, and artists have responded to the tastes of their consumers, Chapman ultimately argues that British comics are distinctive and different from American, French, and Japanese comics. An invaluable reference for all comic collectors and fans in Britain and beyond, British Comics showcases the major role comics have played in the imaginative lives of readers young and old.
Nationalist superheroes—such as Captain America, Captain Canuck, and Union Jack—often signify the “nation-state” for readers, but how do these characters and comic books address issues of multiculturalism and geopolitical order? In his engaging book Captain America and the Nationalist Superhero, geographer Jason Dittmer traces the evolution of the comic book genre as it adapted to new national audiences. He argues that these iconic superheroes contribute to our contemporary understandings of national identity, the righteous use of power, and the role of the United States, Canada, and Britain in the world.
Tracing the nationalist superhero genre from its World War II origins to contemporary manifestations throughout the world, Captain America and the Nationalist Superhero analyzes nearly one thousand comic books and audience responses to those books. Dittmer also interviews key comic book writers from Stan Lee and J. M. DeMatteis to Steve Englehart and Paul Cornell.
At a time when popular culture is saturated with superheroes and their exploits, Captain America and the Nationalist Superhero highlights the unique relationship between popular culture and international relations.
Climate change is no laughing matter-but maybe it should be. The topic is so critical that everyone, from students to policy-makers to voters, needs a quick and easy guide to the basics. The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change entertains as it educates, delivering a unique and enjoyable presentation of mind-blowing facts and critical concepts.
"Stand-up economist" Yoram Bauman and award-winning illustrator Grady Klein have created the funniest overview of climate science, predictions, and policy that you’ll ever read. You’ll giggle, but you’ll also learn-about everything from Milankovitch cycles to carbon taxes.
If those subjects sound daunting, consider that Bauman and Klein have already written two enormously successful cartoon guides to economics, making this notoriously dismal science accessible to countless readers. Bauman has a PhD in economics and has taught at both the high school and college level, but he now makes a living performing at comedy clubs, universities, and conferences, sharing the stage with personalities as diverse as Robin Williams and Paul Krugman.
The authors know how to get a laugh-and they know their facts. This cartoon introduction is based on the latest report from the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and integrates Bauman’s expertise on economics and policy.
If economics can be funny, then climate science can be a riot. Sociologists have argued that we don’t address global warming because it’s too big and frightening to get our heads around. The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change takes the intimidation and gloom out of one of the most complex and hotly debated challenges of our time.
The history of comics has centered almost exclusively on men. Comics historians largely describe the medium as one built by men telling tales about male protagonists, neglecting the many ways in which women fought for legitimacy on the page and in publishers’ studios. Despite this male-dominated focus, women played vital roles in the early history of comics. The story of how comic books were born and how they evolved changes dramatically when women like June Tarpé Mills and Lily Renée are placed at the center rather than at the margins of this history, and when characters such as the Black Cat, Patsy Walker, and Señorita Rio are analyzed.
Comic Book Women offers a feminist history of the golden age of comics, revising our understanding of how numerous genres emerged and upending narratives of how male auteurs built their careers. Considering issues of race, gender, and sexuality, the authors examine crime, horror, jungle, romance, science fiction, superhero, and Western comics to unpack the cultural and industrial consequences of how women were represented across a wide range of titles by publishers like DC, Timely, Fiction House, and others. This revisionist history reclaims the forgotten work done by women in the comics industry and reinserts female creators and characters into the canon of comics history.
The modern comic book shop was born in the early 1970s. Its rise was due in large part to Phil Seuling, the entrepreneur whose direct market model allowed shops to get comics straight from the publishers. Stores could then better customize their offerings and independent publishers could access national distribution. Shops opened up a space for quirky ideas to gain an audience and helped transform small-press series, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Bone, into media giants.
Comic Shop is the first book to trace the history of these cultural icons. Dan Gearino brings us from their origins to the present-day, when the rise of digital platforms and a changing retail landscape have the industry at a crossroads. When the book was first published in 2017, Gearino had spent a year with stores around the country, following how they navigated the business. For this updated and expanded paperback edition, he covers the wild retail landscape of 2017 and 2018, a time that was brutal for stores and rich for comics as an art form.
Along the way he interviews pioneers of comics retailing and other important players, including many women; top creators; and those who continue to push the business in new directions. A revised guide to dozens of the most interesting shops around the United States and Canada is a bonus for fans.
Latin American comics and graphic novels have a unique history of addressing controversial political, cultural, and social issues. This volume presents new perspectives on how comics on and from Latin America both view and express memory formation on major historical events and processes. The contributors, from a variety of disciplines including literary theory, cultural studies, and history, explore topics including national identity construction, narratives of resistance to colonialism and imperialism, the construction of revolutionary traditions, and the legacies of authoritarianism and political violence. The chapters offer a background history of comics and graphic novels in the region, and survey a range of countries and artists such as Joaquín Salvador Lavado (a.k.a Quino), Héctor G. Oesterheld, and Juan Acevedo. They also highlight the unique ability of this art and literary form to succinctly render memory. In sum, this volume offers in-depth analysis of an understudied, yet key literary genre in Latin American memory studies and documents the essential role of comics during the transition from dictatorship to democracy.
It is hard to discuss the current film industry without acknowledging the impact of comic book adaptations, especially considering the blockbuster success of recent superhero movies. Yet transmedial adaptations are part of an evolution that can be traced to the turn of the last century, when comic strips such as “Little Nemo in Slumberland” and “Felix the Cat” were animated for the silver screen. Representing diverse academic fields, including technoculture, film studies, theater, feminist studies, popular culture, and queer studies, Comics and Pop Culture presents more than a dozen perspectives on this rich history and the effects of such adaptations.
Examining current debates and the questions raised by comics adaptations, including those around authorship, style, and textual fidelity, the contributors consider the topic from an array of approaches that take into account representations of sexuality, gender, and race as well as concepts of world-building and cultural appropriation in comics from Modesty Blaise to Black Panther. The result is a fascinating re-imagination of the texts that continue to push the boundaries of panel, frame, and popular culture.
Eszter Szép’s Comics and the Body is the first book to examine the roles of the body in both drawing and reading comics within a single framework. With an explicit emphasis on the ethical dimensions of bodily vulnerability, Szép takes her place at the forefront of scholars examining comics as embodied experiences, pushing this line of inquiry into bold new territory. Focusing on graphic autobiography and reportage, she argues that the bodily performances of creators and readers produce a dialogue that requires both parties to experience and engage with vulnerability, thus presenting a crucial opportunity for ethical encounters between artist and reader. Szép considers visceral representations of bulimia, pregnancy, the effects of STIs, the catastrophic injuries of war, and more in the works of Lynda Barry, Ken Dahl, Katie Green, Miriam Katin, and Joe Sacco. She thus extends comics theory into ethical and psychological territory that finds powerful intersections and resonances with the studies of affect, trauma, gender, and reader response.
Japanese comics, commonly known as manga, are a global sensation. Critics, scholars, and everyday readers have often viewed this artform through an Orientalist framework, treating manga as the exotic antithesis to American and European comics. In reality, the history of manga is deeply intertwined with Japan’s avid importation of Western technology and popular culture in the early twentieth century.
Comics and the Origins of Manga reveals how popular U.S. comics characters like Jiggs and Maggie, the Katzenjammer Kids, Felix the Cat, and Popeye achieved immense fame in Japan during the 1920s and 1930s. Modern comics had earlier developed in the United States in response to new technologies like motion pictures and sound recording, which revolutionized visual storytelling by prompting the invention of devices like speed lines and speech balloons. As audiovisual entertainment like movies and record players spread through Japan, comics followed suit. Their immediate popularity quickly encouraged Japanese editors and cartoonists to enthusiastically embrace the foreign medium and make it their own, paving the way for manga as we know it today.
By challenging the conventional wisdom that manga evolved from centuries of prior Japanese art and explaining why manga and other comics around the world share the same origin story, Comics and the Origins of Manga offers a new understanding of this increasingly influential artform.
Comics Studies: A Guidebook
Charles Hatfield Rutgers University Press, 2020 Library of Congress PN6710.C6664 2020 | Dewey Decimal 741.5072
Nominee for the 2021 Eisner Awards Best Academic/Scholarly Work
In the twenty-first century, the field of comics studies has exploded. Scholarship on graphic novels, comic books, comic strips, webcomics, manga, and all forms of comic art has grown at a dizzying pace, with new publications, institutions, and courses springing up everywhere. The field crosses disciplinary and cultural borders and brings together myriad traditions. Comics Studies: A Guidebook offers a rich but concise introduction to this multifaceted field, authored by leading experts in multiple disciplines. It opens diverse entryways to comics studies, including history, form, audiences, genre, and cultural, industrial, and economic contexts. An invaluable one-stop resource for veteran and new comics scholars alike, this guidebook represents the state of the art in contemporary comics scholarship.
The first collection of critical essays on Maus, the searing account of one Holocaust survivor's experiences rendered in comic book form.
In 1992, Art Spiegelmans two-volume illustrated work Maus: A Survivor’s Tale was awarded a special-category Pulitzer Prize. In a comic book form, Spiegelman tells the gripping, heart-rending story of his father's experiences in the Holocaust. The book renders in stark clarity the trials Spiegelman's father endured as a Jewish refugee in the ghettos and concentration camps of Poland during World War II, his American life following his immigration to New York, and the author's own troubled sense of self as he grapples with his father's history. Mixing autobiography, biography, and oral history in the comic form, Maus has been hailed as a daring work of postmodern narration and as a vivid example of the power of the graphic narrative.
Now, for the first time in one collection, prominent scholars in a variety of fields take on Spiegelman's text and offer it the critical and artistic scrutiny it deserves. They explore many aspects of the work, including Spiegelman’s use of animal characters, the influence of other "comix" artists, the role of the mother and its relation to gender issues, the use of repeating images such as smoke and blood, Maus's position among Holocaust testimonials, its appropriation of cinematic technique, its use of language and styles of dialect, and the implications of the work’s critical and commercial success.
Informed readers in many areas of study, from popular culture and graphic arts to psychoanalysis and oral history, will value this first substantial collection of criticism on a revered work of literature.
A visually stunning graphic memoir of an Argentinian immigrant’s experience during the civil rights movement.
Cuarto oscuro: Recuerdos en blanco y negro is the long-awaited Spanish-language translation of Lila Quintero Weaver’s critically acclaimed Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White. An arresting and moving memoir about childhood, race, ethnicity, and identity in the American South, Cuarto oscuro is animated by Weaver’s stunning illustrations. Her drawings are visually understated but striking and dramatically embolden her heartfelt storytelling.
In 1961, when the author was five, she emigrated with her family from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Marion, Alabama, located in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt. As educated, middle-class Latino immigrants in a region that was defined by segregation, the Quinteros occupied a privileged vantage from which to view the racially charged culture they inhabited. Weaver and her family were firsthand witnesses to key moments in the civil rights movement.
Weaver chronicles what it was like being a Latina girl in the Jim Crow South, struggling to understand both a foreign country and the horrors of our nation’s race relations. Weaver, who was neither black nor white, observed very early on the inequalities in American culture with its blond-haired and blue-eyed feminine ideal. Throughout her life, Weaver struggled to find her place in this society and fought against the discrimination around her. Cuarto oscuro is her testament, in words and images, to that struggle. This personal and historic account is translated into Spanish by Karina Elizabeth Vázquez.
Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White is an arresting and moving personal story about childhood, race, and identity in the American South, rendered in stunning illustrations by the author, Lila Quintero Weaver.
In 1961, when Lila was five, she and her family emigrated from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Marion, Alabama, in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt. As educated, middle-class Latino immigrants in a region that was defined by segregation, the Quinteros occupied a privileged vantage from which to view the racially charged culture they inhabited. Weaver and her family were firsthand witnesses to key moments in the civil rights movement. But Darkroom is her personal story as well: chronicling what it was like being a Latina girl in the Jim Crow South, struggling to understand both a foreign country and the horrors of our nation’s race relations. Weaver, who was neither black nor white, observed very early on the inequalities in the American culture, with its blonde and blue-eyed feminine ideal. Throughout her life, Lila has struggled to find her place in this society and fought against the discrimination around her.
How is it that comic books—the once reviled form of lowbrow popular culture—are now the rage for Hollywood blockbusters, the basis for bestselling video games, and the inspiration for literary graphic novels? In Demanding Respect, Paul Lopes immerses himself in the discourse and practices of this art and subculture to provide a social history of the American comic book over the last 75 years.
Lopes analyzes the cultural production, reception, and consumption of American comic books throughout American history. He charts the rise of superheroes, the proliferation of serials, and the emergence of graphic novels. Demanding Respect explores how comic books born in the 1930s were perceived as a “menace” in the 1950s, only to later become collectors’ items and eventually “hip” fiction in the 1980s through today.
Using a theoretical framework to examine the construction of comic book culture—the artists, publishers, readers and fans—Lopes explains how and why comic books have captured the public’s imagination and gained a fanatic cult following.
In this hybrid memoir, Alberto Ledesma wonders, At what point does a long-time undocumented immigrant become an American in the making? From undocumented little boy to “hyper documented” university professor, Ledesma recounts how even now, he sometimes finds himself reverting to the child he was, recalling his father’s words: “Mijo, it doesn’t matter how good you think your English is, la migra will still get you.”
Exploring Ledesma’s experiences from immigrant to student to academic, Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer presents a humorous, gritty, and multilayered portrait of undocumented immigrant life in urban America. Ledesma’s vignettes about life in the midst of ongoing social trauma give voice to a generation that has long been silent about its struggles. Delving into the key moments of cultural transition throughout his childhood and adulthood—police at the back door waiting to deport his family, the ex-girlfriend who threatens to call INS and report him, and the interactions with law enforcement even after he is no longer undocumented—Ledesma, through his art and his words, provides a glimpse into the psychological and philosophical concerns of undocumented immigrant youth who struggle to pinpoint their identity and community.
In hard-hitting accounts of Auschwitz, Bosnia, Palestine, and Hiroshima’s Ground Zero, comics have shown a stunning capacity to bear witness to trauma. Hillary Chute explores the ways graphic narratives by diverse artists, including Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Keiji Nakazawa, Art Spiegelman, and Joe Sacco, document the disasters of war.
Drawing on Anger: Portraits of U.S. Hypocrisy is a collection of Eric J. García’s most unabashed political cartoons about U.S. history and politics from 2004 to the present. They offer a scathing indictment of Republicans, Democrats, and the self-proclaimed greatest country on earth. Garcia reconstructs pivotal moments in history—such as U.S. complicity in the disappearance of forty-three Mexican students, genocide and torture in Iraq, and femicide along the U.S.—Mexico border—and reflects on the larger themes of anti-immigration laws, global imperialism, veterans affairs, and the conquest of the Americas. His cartoons are equally critical of both political parties and of both the United States and Mexico–lobbing criticism and satire in every direction.
For over a decade García has been serving up inked visuals with the sharpest of political critiques through a Chicano lens. If you’re looking for funny punch lines, these aren’t the cartoons for you. But if you want to pull down Uncle Sam’s pants and see what’s really going on, this is your book.
Drawing the Line: Comics Studies and INKS, 1994–1997 collects some of the most important essays from INKS: Cartoon and Comic Art Studies, the first peer-reviewed scholarly journal devoted exclusively to comics studies. The volume, edited by Lucy Shelton Caswell, the journal’s founding editor, and Jared Gardner, editor of the new Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, celebrates this foundational moment in the fast-growing field of comics studies and also serves as a call to contemporary scholars to revisit the roads-not-taken mapped out by these scholars and cartoonist critics.
Included in the volume are essays by pioneering comics scholars on newspaper comic strips, Japanese manga, Chinese lianhuanhua, comic books, graphic novels, and editorial cartoons, alongside writings and artwork by celebrated cartoonists such as Will Eisner, Oliver Harrington, Charles Schulz, and Frank Stack. This volume serves as an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the history and study of the comics form, visual culture, or the history of journalism.
Winner of the Best Book Award in Comics History from the Grand Comics Database Honorable Mention, 2019-2020 Research Society for American Periodicals Book Prize
The term “graphic novel” was first coined in 1964, but it wouldn’t be broadly used until the 1980s, when graphic novels such as Watchmen and Maus achieved commercial success and critical acclaim. What happened in the intervening years, after the graphic novel was conceptualized yet before it was widely recognized?
Dreaming the Graphic Novel examines how notions of the graphic novel began to coalesce in the 1970s, a time of great change for American comics, with declining sales of mainstream periodicals, the arrival of specialty comics stores, and (at least initially) a thriving underground comix scene. Surveying the eclectic array of long comics narratives that emerged from this fertile period, Paul Williams investigates many texts that have fallen out of graphic novel history. As he demonstrates, the question of what makes a text a ‘graphic novel’ was the subject of fierce debate among fans, creators, and publishers, inspiring arguments about the literariness of comics that are still taking place among scholars today.
Unearthing a treasure trove of fanzines, adverts, and unpublished letters, Dreaming the Graphic Novel gives readers an exciting inside look at a pivotal moment in the art form’s development.
2020 Eisner Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work
Entertaining Comics Group (EC Comics) is perhaps best-known today for lurid horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and for a publication that long outlived the company’s other titles, Mad magazine. But during its heyday in the early 1950s, EC was also an early innovator in another genre of comics: the so-called “preachies,” socially conscious stories that boldly challenged the conservatism and conformity of Eisenhower-era America.
EC Comics examines a selection of these works—sensationally-titled comics such as “Hate!,” “The Guilty!,” and “Judgment Day!”—and explores how they grappled with the civil rights struggle, antisemitism, and other forms of prejudice in America. Putting these socially aware stories into conversation with EC’s better-known horror stories, Qiana Whitted discovers surprising similarities between their narrative, aesthetic, and marketing strategies. She also recounts the controversy that these stories inspired and the central role they played in congressional hearings about offensive content in comics.
The first serious critical study of EC’s social issues comics, this book will give readers a greater appreciation of their legacy. They not only served to inspire future comics creators, but also introduced a generation of young readers to provocative ideas and progressive ideals that pointed the way to a better America.
El Eternauta, Daytripper, and Beyond examines the graphic narrative tradition in the two South American countries that have produced the medium’s most significant and copious output. Argentine graphic narrative emerged in the 1980s, awakened by Héctor Oesterheld’s groundbreaking 1950s serial El Eternauta. After Oesterheld was “disappeared” under the military dictatorship, El Eternauta became one of the most important cultural texts of turbulent mid-twentieth-century Argentina. Today its story, set in motion by an extraterrestrial invasion of Buenos Aires, is read as a parable foretelling the “invasion” of Argentine society by a murderous tyranny. Because of El Eternauta, graphic narrative became a major platform for the country’s cultural redemocratization. In contrast, Brazil, which returned to democracy in 1985 after decades of dictatorship, produced considerably less analysis of the period of repression in its graphic narratives. In Brazil, serious graphic narratives such as Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá’s Daytripper, which explores issues of modernity, globalization, and cross-cultural identity, developed only in recent decades, reflecting Brazilian society’s current and ongoing challenges.
Besides discussing El Eternauta and Daytripper, David William Foster utilizes case studies of influential works—such as Alberto Breccia and Juan Sasturain’s Perramus series, Angélica Freitas and Odyr Bernardi’s Guadalupe, and others—to compare the role of graphic narratives in the cultures of both countries, highlighting the importance of Argentina and Brazil as anchors of the production of world-class graphic narrative.
Superman may be faster than a speeding bullet, but even he can't outrun copyright law. Since the dawn of the pulp hero in the 1930s, publishers and authors have fought over the privilege of making money off of comics, and the authors and artists usually have lost. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman, got all of $130 for the rights to the hero.
In Empire of the Superheroes, Mark Cotta Vaz argues that licensing and litigation do as much as any ink-stained creator to shape the mythology of comic characters. Vaz reveals just how precarious life was for the legends of the industry. Siegel and Shuster—and their heirs—spent seventy years battling lawyers to regain rights to Superman. Jack Kirby and Joe Simon were cheated out of their interest in Captain America, and Kirby's children brought a case against Marvel to the doorstep of the Supreme Court. To make matters worse, the infant comics medium was nearly strangled in its crib by censorship and moral condemnation. For the writers and illustrators now celebrated as visionaries, the "golden age" of comics felt more like hard times.
The fantastical characters that now earn Hollywood billions have all-too-human roots. Empire of the Superheroes digs them up, detailing the creative martyrdom at the heart of a pop-culture powerhouse.
Ethics in the Gutter: Empathy and Historical Fiction in Comics explores an often-overlooked genre of graphic narratives: those that fictionalize historical realities. While autographics, particularly those that place the memoirist in the context of larger cultural conversations, have been the objects of sustained study, fictional graphic narratives that—as Linda Hutcheon has put it—both “enshrine and question” history are also an important area of study. By bringing narratology and psychological theory to bear on a range of graphic narratives, Kate Polak seeks to question how the form utilizes point of view and the gutter as ethical tools that shape the reader’s empathetic reactions to the content.
This book’s most important questions surround how we receive and interpret representations of history, considering the ways in which what we think we know about historical atrocities can be at odds with the convoluted circumstances surrounding violence. Beginning with a new look at Watchmen, and including examinations of such popular series as Scalped and Hellblazer as well as Bayou and Deogratias, the book questions how graphic narratives create an alternative route by which to understand large-scale violence. Ethics in the Gutter explores how graphic narrative representations of violence can teach readers about the possibilities and limitations of empathy and ethics.
Experiencing Visual Storyworlds illuminates how comics express what characters and narrators see, think, and feel. Drawing on the narratological concept of focalization, which describes the filtering of a story through the minds of characters and narrators, Silke Horstkotte and Nancy Pedri analyze comics from a range of genres, including graphic memoir, graphic historiography, silent comics, and metafictional comics. Through a series of close readings—including Jason Lutes’s Berlin, Charles Burns’s Black Hole, Ellen Forney’s Marbles, Eric Drooker’s Flood!, and Craig Thompson’s Habibi—Horstkotte and Pedri argue that the visual form of comics storytelling is uniquely suited to invite readers into storyworld experiences. The authors break down the ways focalization in comics is cued by features such as color, style, panel size and positioning, and genre—showing how these features regulate how readers access the experiences of characters and narrators.
2017 EISNER AWARD NOMINEE for Best Academic/Scholarly Work
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, writer-artist Frank Miller turned Daredevil from a tepid-selling comic into an industry-wide success story, doubling its sales within three years. Lawyer by day and costumed vigilante by night, the character of Daredevil was the perfect vehicle for the explorations of heroic ideals and violence that would come to define Miller’s work.
Frank Miller’s Daredevil and the Ends of Heroism is both a rigorous study of Miller’s artistic influences and innovations and a reflection on how his visionary work on Daredevil impacted generations of comics publishers, creators, and fans. Paul Young explores the accomplishments of Miller the writer, who fused hardboiled crime stories with superhero comics, while reimagining Kingpin (a classic Spider-Man nemesis), recuperating the half-baked villain Bullseye, and inventing a completely new kind of Daredevil villain in Elektra. Yet, he also offers a vivid appreciation of the indelible panels drawn by Miller the artist, taking a fresh look at his distinctive page layouts and lines.
A childhood fan of Miller’s Daredevil, Young takes readers on a personal journey as he seeks to reconcile his love for the comic with his distaste for the fascistic overtones of Miller’s controversial later work. What he finds will resonate not only with Daredevil fans, but with anyone who has contemplated what it means to be a hero in a heartless world.
Other titles in the Comics Culture series include Twelve-Cent Archie, Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948, and Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics.
From the influential work of Los Bros Hernandez in Love & Rockets, to comic strips and political cartoons, to traditional superheroes made nontraditional by means of racial and sexual identity (e.g., Miles Morales/Spider-Man), comics have become a vibrant medium to express Latino identity and culture. Indeed, Latino fiction and nonfiction narratives are rapidly proliferating in graphic media as diverse and varied in form and content as is the whole of Latino culture today.
Graphic Borders presents the most thorough exploration of comics by and about Latinos currently available. Thirteen essays and one interview by eminent and rising scholars of comics bring to life this exciting graphic genre that conveys the distinctive and wide-ranging experiences of Latinos in the United States. The contributors’ exhilarating excavations delve into the following areas: comics created by Latinos that push the boundaries of generic conventions; Latino comic book author-artists who complicate issues of race and gender through their careful reconfigurations of the body; comic strips; Latino superheroes in mainstream comics; and the complex ways that Latino superheroes are created and consumed within larger popular cultural trends. Taken as a whole, the book unveils the resplendent riches of comics by and about Latinos and proves that there are no limits to the ways in which Latinos can be represented and imagined in the world of comics.
The history of America’s civil rights movement is marked by narratives that we hear retold again and again. This has relegated many key figures and turning points to the margins, but graphic novels and graphic memoirs present an opportunity to push against the consensus and create a more complete history. Graphic Memories of the Civil Rights Movement showcases five vivid examples of this:Ho Che Anderson's King (2005), which complicates the standard biography of Martin Luther King Jr.; Congressman John Lewis's three-volume memoir, March (2013–2016); Darkroom (2012), by Lila Quintero Weaver, in which the author recalls her Argentinian father’s participation in the movement and her childhood as an immigrant in the South; the bestseller The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell (2012), set in Houston's Third Ward in 1967; and Howard Cruse's Stuck Rubber Baby (1995), whose protagonist is a closeted gay man involved in the movement. In choosing these five works, Jorge Santos also explores how this medium allows readers to participate in collective memory making, and what the books reveal about the process by which history is (re)told, (re)produced, and (re)narrativized. Concluding the work is Santos’s interview with Ho Che Anderson.
This study offers a critical examination of the work of Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Mexican-American brothers whose graphic novels are highly influential. The Hernandez brothers started in the alt-comics scene, where their ‘Love and Rockets’ series quickly gained prominence. They have since published in more mainstream venues but have maintained an outsider status based on their own background and the content of their work. Enrique García argues that the Hernandez brothers have worked to create a new American graphic storytelling that, while still in touch with mainstream genres, provides a transgressive alternative from an aesthetic, gender, and ethnic perspective. The brothers were able to experiment with and modify these genres by taking advantage of the editorial freedom of independent publishing. This freedom also allowed them to explore issues of ethnic and gender identity in transgressive ways. Their depictions of latinidad and sexuality push against the edicts of mainstream Anglophone culture, but they also defy many Latino perceptions of life, politics, and self-representation. The book concludes with an in-depth interview with Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez that touches on and goes beyond the themes explored in the book.
The superheroes from DC and Marvel comics are some of the most iconic characters in popular culture today. But how do these figures idealize certain gender roles, body types, sexualities, and racial identities at the expense of others?
Hot Pants and Spandex Suits offers a far-reaching look at how masculinity and femininity have been represented in American superhero comics, from the Golden and Silver Ages to the Modern Age. Scholar Esther De Dauw contrasts the bulletproof and musclebound phallic bodies of classic male heroes like Superman, Captain America, and Iron Man with the figures of female counterparts like Wonder Woman and Supergirl, who are drawn as superhumanly flexible and plastic. It also examines the genre’s ambivalent treatment of LGBTQ representation, from the presentation of gay male heroes Wiccan and Hulkling as a model minority couple to the troubling association of Batwoman’s lesbianism with monstrosity. Finally, it explores the intersection between gender and race through case studies of heroes like Luke Cage, Storm, and Ms. Marvel.
Hot Pants and Spandex Suits is a fascinating and thought-provoking consideration of what superhero comics teach us about identity, embodiment, and sexuality.
In How Comics Travel: Publication, Translation, Radical Literacies, Katherine Kelp-Stebbins challenges the clichéd understanding of comics as a “universal” language, circulating without regard for cultures or borders. Instead, she develops a new methodology of reading for difference. Kelp-Stebbins’s anticolonial, feminist, and antiracist analytical framework engages with comics as sites of struggle over representation in a diverse world. Through comparative case studies of Metro, Tintin, Persepolis, and more, she explores the ways in which graphic narratives locate and dislocate readers in every phase of a transnational comic’s life cycle according to distinct visual, linguistic, and print cultures. How Comics Travel disengages from the constrictive pressures of nationalism and imperialism, both in comics studies and world literature studies more broadly, to offer a new vision of how comics depict and enact the world as a transcultural space.
Nominated for Eisner Award | Winner of the 2018 Ray and Pat Browne Award | Winner of the Charles Hatfield Book Prize from the CSS
Histories and criticism of comics note that comic strips published in the Progressive Era were dynamic spaces in which anxieties about race, ethnicity, class, and gender were expressed, perpetuated, and alleviated. The proliferation of comic strip children—white and nonwhite, middle-class and lower class, male and female—suggests that childhood was a subject that fascinated and preoccupied Americans at the turn of the century. Many of these strips, including R.F. Outcault’s Hogan’s Alley and Buster Brown, Rudolph Dirks’s The Katzenjammer Kids and Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland were headlined by child characters. Yet no major study has explored the significance of these verbal-visual representations of childhood. Incorrigibles and Innocents addresses this gap in scholarship, examining the ways childhood was depicted and theorized in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century comic strips. Drawing from and building on histories and theories of childhood, comics, and Progressive Era conceptualizations of citizenship and nationhood, Lara Saguisag demonstrates that child characters in comic strips expressed and complicated contemporary notions of who had a right to claim membership in a modernizing, expanding nation.
Every day researchers face an onslaught of irrelevant, inaccurate, and sometimes insidious information. While new technologies provide powerful tools for accessing knowledge, not all information is created equal. Valuable information may be tucked away on a shelf, buried on the hundredth page of search results, or hidden behind digital barriers. With so many obstacles to effective research, it is vital that higher education students master the art of inquiry.
Information Now is an innovative approach to information literacy that will reinvent the way college students think about research. Instead of the typical textbook format, it uses illustrations, humor, and reflective exercises to teach students how to become savvy researchers. Students will learn how to evaluate information, to incorporate it into their existing knowledge base, to wield it effectively, and to understand the ethical issues surrounding its use. Written by two library professionals, it incorporates concepts and skills drawn from the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education and their Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Thoroughly researched and highly engaging, Information Now offers the tools that students need to become powerful consumers and creators of information.
Whether used by a high school student tackling a big paper, an undergrad facing the newness of a university library, or a writer wanting to go beyond Google, Information Now is a powerful tool for any researcher’s arsenal.
Today’s information environments are complex, and learning how to find relevant and reliable information online, as well as how to fact-check and evaluate that information, is essential. Enter Information Now, a graphic guide that uses humor and sequential art to teach students about information, research, and the web.
This second edition of the popular guide incorporates critical analysis of information systems, asking students to think about the biases and problems in how databases and search engines are designed and used. It also addresses how different populations of people are disproportionately affected by the algorithmic biases built into information systems. And it includes revised critical thinking exercises in every chapter.
Written and revised by library professionals, Information Now is a fun and insightful tool for high school and college students, writers, and anyone wanting to improve their research skills.
Kartoon Kings is the first monographic and comprehensive analysis of the graphic artwork of Simon Grennan and Christopher Sperandio. This work showcases a collection of full-color images excerpted from comic book projects, videos, billboards, and more of the artists’ collaborative public contributions created over the past fifteen years. To supplement the images an interview with the artists by Kristina Olson is included, along with essays by Joshua Decter and Paul Krainak. Grennan and Sperandio work together by conspiring about their creative ideas on the Internet. Their teamwork must be done this way because Grennan lives in England, while Sperandio lives in the United States.
Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics
Frederick Luis Aldama; Foreword by John Jennings; Afterword by Javier Hernandez University of Arizona Press, 2017 Library of Congress PN6725.A37 2017 | Dewey Decimal 741.5352968073
Winner of the 2018 Eisner Award Winner for Best Scholarly/Academic Work
Whether good or evil, beautiful or ugly, smart or downright silly, able-bodied or differently abled, gay or straight, male or female, young or old, Latinx superheroes in mainstream comic book stories are few and far between. It is as if finding the Latinx presence in the DC and Marvel worlds requires activation of superheroic powers.
Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics blasts open barriers with a swift kick. It explores deeply and systematically the storyworld spaces inhabited by brown superheroes in mainstream comic book storyworlds: print comic books, animation, TV, and film. It makes visible and lets loose the otherwise occluded and shackled. Leaving nothing to chance, it sheds light on how creators (authors, artists, animators, and directors) make storyworlds that feature Latinos/as, distinguishing between those that we can and should evaluate as well done and those we can and should evaluate as not well done.
The foremost expert on Latinx comics, Frederick Luis Aldama guides us through the full archive of all the Latinx superheros in comics since the 1940s. Aldama takes us where the superheroes live—the barrios, the hospitals, the school rooms, the farm fields—and he not only shows us a view to the Latinx content, sometimes deeply embedded, but also provokes critical inquiry into the way storytelling formats distill and reconstruct real Latinos/as.
Thoroughly entertaining but seriously undertaken, Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics allows us to truly see how superhero comic book storyworlds are willfully created in ways that make new our perception, thoughts, and feelings.
The circ stats say it all: graphic novels’ popularity among library users keeps growing, with more being published (and acquired by libraries) each year. The unique challenges of developing and managing a graphics novels collection have led the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) to craft this guide, presented under the expert supervision of editor Ballestro, who has worked with comics for more than 35 years. Examining the ever-changing ways that graphic novels are created, packaged, marketed, and released, this resource gathers a range of voices from the field to explore such topics as
a cultural history of comics and graphic novels from their World War II origins to today, providing a solid grounding for newbies and fresh insights for all;
catching up on the Big Two’s reboots: Marvel’s 10 and DC’s 4;
five questions to ask when evaluating nonfiction graphic novels and 30 picks for a core collection;
key publishers and cartoonists to consider when adding international titles;
developing a collection that supports curriculum and faculty outreach to ensure wide usage, with catalogers’ tips for organizing your collection and improving discovery;
real-world examples of how libraries treat graphic novels, such as an in-depth profile of the development of the Penn Libraries' manga collection;
how to integrate the emerging field of graphic medicine into the collection; and
specialized resources like The Cartoonists of Color and Queer Cartoonists databases, the open access scholarly journal Comic Grid, and the No Flying, No Tights website.
Impossibly muscular men and voluptuous women parade around in revealing, skintight outfits, and their romantic and sexual entanglements are a key part of the ongoing drama. Such is the state of superhero comics and movies, a genre that has become one of our leading mythologies, conveying influential messages about gender, sexuality, and relationships.
Love, Sex, Gender, and Superheroes examines a full range of superhero media, from comics to films to television to merchandising. With a keen eye for the genre’s complex and internally contradictory mythology, comics scholar Jeffrey A. Brown considers its mixed messages. Superhero comics may reinforce sex roles with their litany of phallic musclemen and slinky femme fatales, but they also blur gender binaries with their emphasis on transformation and body swaps. Similarly, while most heroes have heterosexual love interests, the genre prioritizes homosocial bonding, and it both celebrates and condemns gendered and sexualized violence.
With examples spanning from the Golden Ages of DC and Marvel comics up to recent works like the TV series The Boys, this study provides a comprehensive look at how superhero media shapes our perceptions of love, sex, and gender.
The creation of the Fantastic Four effectively launched the Marvel Comics brand in 1961. Within ten years, the introduction (or reintroduction) of characters such as Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, and the X-Men catapulted Marvel past its primary rival, DC Comics, for domination of the comic book market. Since the 2000s, the company’s iconic characters have leaped from page to screens with the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which includes everything from live-action film franchises of Iron Man and the Avengers to television and streaming media, including the critically acclaimed Netflix series Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Marvel, now owned by Disney, has clearly found the key to transmedia success.
Make Ours Marvel traces the rise of the Marvel brand and its transformation into a transmedia empire over the past fifty years. A dozen original essays range across topics such as how Marvel expanded the notion of an all-star team book with The Avengers, which provided a roadmap for the later films, to the company’s attempts to create lasting female characters and readerships, to its regular endeavors to reinvigorate its brand while still maintaining the stability that fans crave. Demonstrating that the secret to Marvel’s success comes from adeptly crossing media boundaries while inviting its audience to participate in creating Marvel’s narrative universe, this book shows why the company and its characters will continue to influence storytelling and transmedia empire building for the foreseeable future.
In 1962, James Meredith famously desegregated the University of Mississippi (a.k.a. Ole Miss). As the first Black American admitted to the school, he demonstrated great courage amidst the subsequent political clashes and tragic violence. After President Kennedy summoned federal troops to help maintain order, the South—and America at large—would never be the same.
Man on a Mission depicts Meredith’s relentless pursuit of justice, beginning with his childhood in rural Mississippi and culminating with the confrontation at Ole Miss. A blend of historical research and creative inspiration, this graphic history tells Meredith’s dramatic story in his own singular voice.
From the dawn of the modern civil rights movement, Meredith has offered a unique perspective on democracy, racial equality, and the meaning of America. Man on a Mission presents his captivating saga for a new generation in the era of Black Lives Matter.
Media of Serial Narrative
Frank Kelleter The Ohio State University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PN3448.S48M43 2017 | Dewey Decimal 809.3
Media of Serial Narrative, edited by Frank Kelleter, is the first book-length study to address the increasingly popular topic of serial narratives—specifically, how practices and forms of seriality shape media throughout the landscape of popular culture. In modern entertainment formats, seriality and popularity can seem so obviously connected that scholarship has long neglected to address their specific interrelations. This volume looks closely at the relationship between seriality, popularity, media, and narrative form and asks: What are the structural conditions of serial stories? Which historical circumstances are presupposed or supported by series and serials? How do commercial types of seriality differ from serial structures in other cultural fields? Media of Serial Narrative focuses on key sites and technologies of popular seriality since the mid-nineteenth century and up to today: newspapers, comics, cinema, television, and digital communication. Paying close attention to the affordances of individual media, as well as to their historical interactions, the fourteen chapters survey the forms, processes, and functions of popular serial storytelling. With individual chapters by Frank Kelleter, Jared Gardner, Daniel Stein, Christina Meyer, Scott Higgins, Shane Denson, Ruth Mayer, Kathleen Loock, Constantine Verevis, Jason Mittell, Sudeep Dasgupta, Sean O’Sullivan, Henry Jenkins, Christine Hämmerling, Mirjam Nast, and Andreas Sudmann, Media of Serial Narrative is an exciting and broad-ranging intervention in the fields of seriality, media, and narrative studies.
Sika A. Dagbovie-Mullins Rutgers University Press, 2021 Library of Congress PN6714.M59 2021 | Dewey Decimal 741.59
American culture has long represented mixed-race identity in paradoxical terms. On the one hand, it has been associated with weakness, abnormality, impurity, transgression, shame, and various pathologies; however, it can also connote genetic superiority, exceptional beauty, and special potentiality. This ambivalence has found its way into superhero media, which runs the gamut from Ant-Man and the Wasp’s tragic mulatta villain Ghost to the cinematic depiction of Aquaman as a heroic “half-breed.”
The essays in this collection contend with the multitude of ways that racial mixedness has been presented in superhero comics, films, television, and literature. They explore how superhero media positions mixed-race characters within a genre that has historically privileged racial purity and propagated images of white supremacy. The book considers such iconic heroes as Superman, Spider-Man, and The Hulk, alongside such lesser-studied characters as Valkyrie, Dr. Fate, and Steven Universe. Examining both literal and symbolic representations of racial mixing, this study interrogates how we might challenge and rewrite stereotypical narratives about mixed-race identity, both in superhero media and beyond.
As Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and releases from the Marvel Cinematic Universe have regularly topped the box office charts, fans and critics alike might assume that the “comic book movie” is a distinctly twenty-first-century form. Yet adaptations of comics have been an integral part of American cinema from its very inception, with comics characters regularly leaping from the page to the screen and cinematic icons spawning comics of their own.
Movie Comics is the first book to study the long history of both comics-to-film and film-to-comics adaptations, covering everything from silent films starring Happy Hooligan to sound films and serials featuring Dick Tracy and Superman to comic books starring John Wayne, Gene Autry, Bob Hope, Abbott & Costello, Alan Ladd, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. With a special focus on the Classical Hollywood era, Blair Davis investigates the factors that spurred this media convergence, as the film and comics industries joined forces to expand the reach of their various brands. While analyzing this production history, he also tracks the artistic coevolution of films and comics, considering the many formal elements that each medium adopted and adapted from the other.
As it explores our abiding desire to experience the same characters and stories in multiple forms, Movie Comics gives readers a new appreciation for the unique qualities of the illustrated page and the cinematic moving image.
Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle is the first comprehensive look at comic books by and about race and ethnicity. The thirteen essays tease out for the general reader the nuances of how such multicultural comics skillfully combine visual and verbal elements to tell richly compelling stories that gravitate around issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality within and outside the U.S. comic book industry. Among the explorations of mainstream and independent comic books are discussions of the work of Adrian Tomine, Grant Morrison, and Jessica Abel as well as Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s The Tomb of Dracula; Native American Anishinaabe-related comics; mixed-media forms such as Kerry James Marshall’s comic-book/community performance; DJ Spooky’s visual remix of classic film; the role of comics in India; and race in the early Underground Comix movement. The collection includes a “one-stop shop” for multicultural comic book resources, such as archives, websites, and scholarly books. Each of the essays shows in a systematic, clear, and precise way how multicultural comic books work in and of themselves and also how they are interconnected with a worldwide tradition of comic-book storytelling.
In many ways, twentieth-century America was the land of superheroes and science fiction. From Superman and Batman to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, these pop-culture juggernauts, with their "powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men," thrilled readers and audiences—and simultaneously embodied a host of our dreams and fears about modern life and the onrushing future.
But that's just scratching the surface, says Jeffrey Kripal. In Mutants and Mystics, Kripal offers a brilliantly insightful account of how comic book heroes have helped their creators and fans alike explore and express a wealth of paranormal experiences ignored by mainstream science. Delving deeply into the work of major figures in the field—from Jack Kirby’s cosmic superhero sagas and Philip K. Dick’s futuristic head-trips to Alan Moore’s sex magic and Whitley Strieber’s communion with visitors—Kripal shows how creators turned to science fiction to convey the reality of the inexplicable and the paranormal they experienced in their lives. Expanded consciousness found its language in the metaphors of sci-fi—incredible powers, unprecedented mutations, time-loops and vast intergalactic intelligences—and the deeper influences of mythology and religion that these in turn drew from; the wildly creative work that followed caught the imaginations of millions. Moving deftly from Cold War science and Fredric Wertham's anticomics crusade to gnostic revelation and alien abduction, Kripal spins out a hidden history of American culture, rich with mythical themes and shot through with an awareness that there are other realities far beyond our everyday understanding.
A bravura performance, beautifully illustrated in full color throughout and brimming over with incredible personal stories, Mutants and Mystics is that rarest of things: a book that is guaranteed to broaden—and maybe even blow—your mind.
When the San Diego Comic-Con was founded in 1970, it provided an exclusive space where fans, dealers, collectors, and industry professionals could come together to celebrate their love of comics and popular culture. In the decades since, Comic-Con has grown in size and scope, attracting hundreds of thousands of fans each summer and increased attention from the media industries, especially Hollywood, which uses the convention’s exclusivity to spread promotional hype far and wide. What made the San Diego Comic-Con a Hollywood destination? How does the industry’s presence at Comic-Con shape our ideas about what it means to be a fan? And what can this single event tell us about the relationship between media industries and their fans, past and present? Only at Comic-Con answers these questions and more as it examines the connection between exclusivity and the proliferation of media industry promotion at the longest-running comic convention in North America.
We are living in a golden age of cartoon art. Never before has graphic storytelling been so prominent or garnered such respect: critics and readers alike agree that contemporary cartoonists are creating some of the most innovative and exciting work in all the arts.
For nearly a decade Hillary L. Chute has been sitting down for extensive interviews with the leading figures in comics, and with Outside the Box she offers fans a chance to share her ringside seat. Chute’s in-depth discussions with twelve of the most prominent and accomplished artists and writers in comics today reveal a creative community that is richly interconnected yet fiercely independent, its members sharing many interests and approaches while working with wildly different styles and themes. Chute’s subjects run the gamut of contemporary comics practice, from underground pioneers like Art Spiegelman and Lynda Barry, to the analytic work of Scott McCloud, the journalism of Joe Sacco, and the extended narratives of Alison Bechdel, Charles Burns, and more. They reflect on their experience and innovations, the influence of peers and mentors, the reception of their art and the growth of critical attention, and the crucial place of print amid the encroachment of the digital age.
Beautifully illustrated in full-color, and featuring three never-before-published interviews—including the first published conversation between Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware—Outside the Box will be a landmark volume, a close-up account of the rise of graphic storytelling and a testament to its vibrant creativity.
Marvel is one of the hottest media companies in the world right now, and its beloved superheroes are all over film, television and comic books. Yet rather than simply cashing in on the popularity of iconic white male characters like Peter Parker, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, Marvel has consciously diversified its lineup of superheroes, courting controversy in the process.
Panthers, Hulks, and Ironhearts offers the first comprehensive study of how Marvel has reimagined what a superhero might look like in the twenty-first century. It examines how they have revitalized older characters like Black Panther and Luke Cage, while creating new ones like Latina superhero Miss America. Furthermore, it considers the mixed fan responses to Marvel’s recasting of certain “legacy heroes,” including a Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel, a Korean-American Hulk, and a whole rainbow of multiverse Spidermen.
If the superhero comic is a quintessentially American creation, then how might the increasing diversification of Marvel’s superhero lineup reveal a fundamental shift in our understanding of American identity? This timely study answers those questions and considers what Marvel’s comics, TV series, and films might teach us about stereotyping, Orientalism, repatriation, whitewashing, and identification.
Before Superman, before Batman, there was—the Phantom! Making its debut as an American newspaper comic strip in 1936, The Phantom was the forerunner of the comic-book superhero genre that today animates vast billion-dollar franchises spanning print, film, television, video games, and licensed merchandise. But you’ve probably never heard of it—you probably think Superman inaugurated the genre. That’s because, despite its American origins, The Phantom comic strip has enjoyed far greater popularity with international audiences, most notably in Australia, Sweden, and India, where it has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and comic books. The paradox of the character’s relative obscurity in the United States, offset by his phenomenal success in these three markedly different countries, is the subject of The Phantom Unmasked.
By tracing the publication history of The Phantom in magazines and comic books across international markets since the mid-1930s, author Kevin Patrick delves into the largely unexplored prehistory of modern media licensing industries. He also explores the interconnections between the cultural, political, economic, and historical factors that fueled the character’s international popularity. The Phantom Unmasked offers readers a nuanced study of the complex cultural flow of American comic books around the world. Equally important, to provide a rare glimpse of international comics fandom, Patrick surveyed the Phantom’s “phans”—as they call themselves—and lets them explain how and why they came to love the world’s first masked superhero.
Comics and childhood have had a richly intertwined history for nearly a century. From Richard Outcault’s Yellow Kid, Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo, and Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie to Hergé’s Tintin (Belgium), José Escobar’s Zipi and Zape (Spain), and Wilhelm Busch’s Max and Moritz (Germany), iconic child characters have given both kids and adults not only hours of entertainment but also an important vehicle for exploring children’s lives and the sometimes challenging realities that surround them.
Bringing together comic studies and childhood studies, this pioneering collection of essays provides the first wide-ranging account of how children and childhood, as well as the larger cultural forces behind their representations, have been depicted in comics from the 1930s to the present. The authors address issues such as how comics reflect a spectrum of cultural values concerning children, sometimes even resisting dominant cultural constructions of childhood; how sensitive social issues, such as racial discrimination or the construction and enforcement of gender roles, can be explored in comics through the use of child characters; and the ways in which comics use children as metaphors for other issues or concerns. Specific topics discussed in the book include diversity and inclusiveness in Little Audrey comics of the 1950s and 1960s, the fetishization of adolescent girls in Japanese manga, the use of children to build national unity in Finnish wartime comics, and how the animal/child hybrids in Sweet Tooth act as a metaphor for commodification.
Winner of the Popular Culture Association's Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Book in Popular or American Culture
In the 1940s and ’50s, comic books were some of the most popular—and most unfiltered—entertainment in the United States. Publishers sold hundreds of millions of copies a year of violent, racist, and luridly sexual comics to Americans of all ages, until a 1954 Senate investigation led to a censorship code that nearly destroyed the industry. But this was far from the first time the US government actively involved itself with comics—it was simply the most dramatic manifestation of a long, strange relationship between high-level policy makers and a medium that even artists and writers often dismissed as a creative sewer. In Pulp Empire, Paul S. Hirsch uncovers the gripping untold story of how the US government both attacked and appropriated comic books to help wage World War II and the Cold War, promote official—and clandestine—foreign policy, and deflect global critiques of American racism.
As Hirsch details, during World War II—and the concurrent golden age of comic books—government agencies worked directly with comic book publishers to stoke hatred for the Axis powers while simultaneously attempting to dispel racial tensions at home. Later, as the Cold War defense industry ballooned—and as comic book sales reached historic heights—the government again turned to the medium, this time trying to win hearts and minds in the decolonizing world through cartoon propaganda.
Hirsch’s groundbreaking research weaves together a wealth of previously classified material, including secret wartime records, official legislative documents, and caches of personal papers. His book explores the uneasy contradiction of how comics were both vital expressions of American freedom and unsettling glimpses into the national id—scourged and repressed on the one hand and deployed as official propaganda on the other. Pulp Empire is a riveting illumination of underexplored chapters in the histories of comic books, foreign policy, and race.
Many Jewish artists and writers contributed to the creation of popular comics and graphic novels, and in The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel, Stephen E. Tabachnick takes readers on an engaging tour of graphic novels that explore themes of Jewish identity and belief.
The creators of Superman (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), Batman (Bob Kane and Bill Finger), and the Marvel superheroes (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), were Jewish, as was the founding editor of Mad magazine (Harvey Kurtzman). They often adapted Jewish folktales (like the Golem) or religious stories (such as the origin of Moses) for their comics, depicting characters wrestling with supernatural people and events. Likewise, some of the most significant graphic novels by Jews or about Jewish subject matter deal with questions of religious belief and Jewish identity. Their characters wrestle with belief—or nonbelief—in God, as well as with their own relationship to the Jews, the historical role of the Jewish people, the politics of Israel, and other issues related to Jewish identity.
In The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel, Stephen E. Tabachnick delves into the vivid kaleidoscope of Jewish beliefs and identities, ranging from Orthodox belief to complete atheism, and a spectrum of feelings about identification with other Jews. He explores graphic novels at the highest echelon of the genre by more than thirty artists and writers, among them Harvey Pekar (American Splendor), Will Eisner (A Contract with God), Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat), Miriam Katin (We Are On Our Own), Art Spiegelman (Maus), J. T. Waldman (Megillat Esther), Aline Kominsky Crumb (Need More Love), James Sturm (The Golem’s Mighty Swing), Leela Corman (Unterzakhn), Ari Folman and David Polonsky (Waltz with Bashir), David Mairowitz and Robert Crumb’s biography of Kafka, and many more. He also examines the work of a select few non-Jewish artists, such as Robert Crumb and Basil Wolverton, both of whom have created graphic adaptations of parts of the Hebrew Bible.
Among the topics he discusses are graphic novel adaptations of the Bible; the Holocaust graphic novel; graphic novels about the Jews in Eastern and Western Europe and Africa, and the American Jewish immigrant experience; graphic novels about the lives of Jewish women; the Israel-centered graphic novel; and the Orthodox graphic novel. The book concludes with an extensive bibliography.
No study of Jewish literature and art today can be complete without a survey of the graphic novel, and scholars, students, and graphic novel fans alike will delight in Tabachnick’s guide to this world of thought, sensibility, and artfulness.
A collaboration between Belgian artist François Schuiten and French writer Benoît Peeters, The Obscure Cities is one of the few comics series to achieve massive popularity while remaining highly experimental in form and content. Set in a parallel world, full of architecturally distinctive city-states, The Obscure Cities also represents one of the most impressive pieces of world-building in any form of literature.
Rebuilding Story Worlds offers the first full-length study of this seminal series, exploring both the artistic traditions from which it emerges and the innovative ways it plays with genre, gender, and urban space. Comics scholar Jan Baetens examines how Schuiten’s work as an architectural designer informs the series’ concerns with the preservation of historic buildings. He also includes an original interview with Peeters, which reveals how poststructuralist critical theory influenced their construction of a rhizomatic fictional world, one which has made space for fan contributions through the Alta Plana website.
Synthesizing cutting-edge approaches from both literary and visual studies, Rebuilding Story Worlds will give readers a new appreciation for both the aesthetic ingenuity of The Obscure Cities and its nuanced conception of politics.
Redrawing French Empire in Comics by Mark McKinney investigates how comics have represented the colonization and liberation of Algeria and Indochina. It focuses on the conquest and colonization of Algeria (from 1830), the French war in Indochina (1946–1954), and the Algerian War (1954–1962). Imperialism and colonialism already featured prominently in nineteenth-century French-language comics and cartoons by Töpffer, Cham, and Petit. As society has evolved, so has the popular representation of those historical forces. French torture of Algerians during the Algerian War, once taboo, now features prominently in comics, especially since 2000, when debate on the subject was reignited in the media and the courts. The increasingly explicit and spectacular treatment in comics of the more violent and lurid aspects of colonial history and ideology is partly due to the post-1968 growth of an adult comics production and market. For example, the appearance of erotic and exotic, feminized images of Indochina in French comics in the 1980s indicated that colonial nostalgia for French Indochina had become fashionable in popular culture. Redrawing French Empire in Comics shows how contemporary cartoonists such as Alagbé, Baloup, Boudjellal, Ferrandez, and Sfar have staked out different, sometimes conflicting, positions on French colonial history.
Resurrection: Comics in Post-Soviet Russia traces the “kopecks to rubles” journey of Russian comics at the turn of the century. As the follow-up to José Alaniz’s groundbreaking Komiks: Comic Art in Russia (2010), Resurrection authoritatively and exhaustively details the Russian comic landscape of the last three decades: beginning after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and encompassing the fourth Putin administration, the COVID-19 crisis, and beyond. Bolstering his analysis with interviews with some of the major figures in Russia’s comics industry, Alaniz particularly focuses on the representation of masculinity, disability, historical trauma, and superheroes, as well as on the recent rise of fandom, alternative micropresses, and nonfiction graphic narrative. Resurrection is a sweeping discussion of the metamorphosis of contemporary Russian comic art from its rebirth to its entry into mainstream culture.
This short book offers a series of thought experiments and invites Shakespeareans to rediscover the wonders and pleasures of fandom. It does not argue that comic books and movies can or should replace Shakespeare; the goal is to explore the values in both, to think of comics as allusively Shakespearean, telling similar stories, expressing similar concerns, exploring similar values. Shakespeare and Superheroes seeks to re-democratize criticism by encouraging all readers to engage in and to respond to literary arguments using their own common cultural language.
Winner, American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 2012
Super Black places the appearance of black superheroes alongside broad and sweeping cultural trends in American politics and pop culture, which reveals how black superheroes are not disposable pop products, but rather a fascinating racial phenomenon through which futuristic expressions and fantastic visions of black racial identity and symbolic political meaning are presented. Adilifu Nama sees the value—and finds new avenues for exploring racial identity—in black superheroes who are often dismissed as sidekicks, imitators of established white heroes, or are accused of having no role outside of blaxploitation film contexts.
Nama examines seminal black comic book superheroes such as Black Panther, Black Lightning, Storm, Luke Cage, Blade, the Falcon, Nubia, and others, some of whom also appear on the small and large screens, as well as how the imaginary black superhero has come to life in the image of President Barack Obama. Super Black explores how black superheroes are a powerful source of racial meaning, narrative, and imagination in American society that express a myriad of racial assumptions, political perspectives, and fantastic (re)imaginings of black identity. The book also demonstrates how these figures overtly represent or implicitly signify social discourse and accepted wisdom concerning notions of racial reciprocity, equality, forgiveness, and ultimately, racial justice.
Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives.
Although these outlandish figures—in their capes, masks, and tights, with their unbelievable origins and preternatural powers—are often dismissed as juvenile amusements, they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one’s character and facing the challenges of life.
But, given the choice, which superhero should we follow today? Who is most worthy of our admiration? Whose goals are most noble? Whose ethics should we strive to emulate?
To decide, Travis Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better exemplifies how we ought to live advances to the final round. By the end of the book, a single superhero emerges victorious and is crowned most exemplary for our times.
How, then, shall we live?
How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine)
How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern)
What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man)
Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic)
Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)
Using superheroes to bring into focus these timeless themes of the human condition, Smith takes us on an adventure as fantastic as any you’ll find on a splash page or the silver screen—an intellectual adventure filled with surprising insights, unexpected twists and turns, and a daring climax you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over.
“As a man, I'm flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol... as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting”. In the 2005 reboot of the Batman film franchise, Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne articulates how the figure of the superhero can serve as a transcendent icon.
It is hard to imagine a time when superheroes have been more pervasive in our culture. Today, superheroes are intellectual property jealously guarded by media conglomerates, icons co-opted by grassroots groups as a four-color rebuttal to social inequities, masks people wear to more confidently walk convention floors and city streets, and bulletproof banners that embody regional and national identities. From activism to cosplay, this collection unmasks the symbolic function of superheroes.
Bringing together superhero scholars from a range of disciplines, alongside key industry figures such as Harley Quinn co-creator Paul Dini, The Superhero Symbol provides fresh perspectives on how characters like Captain America, Iron Man, and Wonder Woman have engaged with media, culture, and politics, to become the “everlasting” symbols to which a young Bruce Wayne once aspired.
Examining the deep philosophical topics addressed in superhero comics, authors Gavaler and Goldberg read plot lines for the complex thought experiments they contain and analyze their implications as if the comic authors were philosophers. Reading superhero comic books through a philosophical lens reveals how they experiment with complex issues of morality, metaphysics, meaning, and medium. Given comics’ ubiquity and influence directly on (especially young) readers—and indirectly on consumers of superhero movies and video games—understanding these deeper meanings is in many ways essential to understanding contemporary popular culture. The result is an entertaining and enlightening look at superhero dilemmas.
After debuting in 1938, Superman soon became an American icon. But why has he maintained his iconic status for nearly 80 years? And how can he still be an American icon when the country itself has undergone so much change?
Superman: Persistence of an American Icon examines the many iterations of the character in comic books, comic strips, radio series, movie serials, feature films, television shows, animation, toys, and collectibles over the past eight decades. Demonstrating how Superman’s iconic popularity cannot be attributed to any single creator or text, comics expert Ian Gordon embarks on a deeper consideration of cultural mythmaking as a collective and dynamic process. He also outlines the often contentious relationships between the various parties who have contributed to the Superman mythos, including corporate executives, comics writers, artists, nostalgic commentators, and collectors.
Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of Superman’s appearances in comics and other media, Gordon also digs into comics archives to reveal the prominent role that fans have played in remembering, interpreting, and reimagining Superman’s iconography. Gordon considers how comics, film, and TV producers have taken advantage of fan engagement and nostalgia when selling Superman products. Investigating a character who is equally an icon of American culture, fan culture, and consumer culture, Superman thus offers a provocative analysis of mythmaking in the modern era.
2021 Comic Studies Society Prize for Edited Collection
From Superman, created in 1938, to the transmedia DC and Marvel universes of today, superheroes have always been sexy. And their sexiness has always been controversial, inspiring censorship and moral panic. Yet though it has inspired jokes and innuendos, accusations of moral depravity, and sporadic academic discourse, the topic of superhero sexuality is like superhero sexuality itself—seemingly obvious yet conspicuously absent. Supersex: Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero is the first scholarly book specifically devoted to unpacking the superhero genre’s complicated relationship with sexuality.
Exploring sexual themes and imagery within mainstream comic books, television shows, and films as well as independent and explicitly pornographic productions catering to various orientations and kinks, Supersex offers a fresh—and lascivious—perspective on the superhero genre’s historical and contemporary popularity. Across fourteen essays touching on Superman, Batman, the X-Men, and many others, Anna F. Peppard and her contributors present superhero sexuality as both dangerously exciting and excitingly dangerous, encapsulating the superhero genre’s worst impulses and its most productively rebellious ones. Supersex argues that sex is at the heart of our fascination with superheroes, even—and sometimes especially—when the capes and tights stay on.
In the Latinx comics community, there is much to celebrate today, with more Latinx comic book artists than ever before. The resplendent visual-verbal storyworlds of these artists reach into and radically transform so many visual and storytelling genres. Tales from la Vida celebrates this space by bringing together more than eighty contributions by extraordinary Latinx creators. Their short visual-verbal narratives spring from autobiographical experience as situated within the language, culture, and history that inform Latinx identity and life. Tales from la Vida showcases the huge variety of styles and worldviews of today’s Latinx comic book and visual creators.
Whether it’s detailing the complexities of growing up—mono- or multilingual, bicultural, straight, queer, or feminist Latinx—or focusing on aspects of pop culture, these graphic vignettes demonstrate the expansive complexity of Latinx identities. Taken individually and together, these creators—including such legendary artists as Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Roberta Gregory, and Kat Fajardo, to name a few—and their works show the world that when it comes to Latinx comics, there are no limits to matters of content and form. As we travel from one story to the next and experience the unique ways that each creator chooses to craft his or her story, our hearts and minds wake to the complex ways that Latinxs live within and actively transform the world.
Today, comic art is the favorite reading fare for millions of Asians, and is a government-sanctioned, value-added product, as in the case of Korean and Japanese animation. Yet not much is known about Asian cartooning. Themes and Issues in Asian Cartooning uses overviews and case studies by scholars to discuss Asian animation, humor magazines, gag cartoons, comic strips, and comic books. The first half of the book looks at contents and audiences of Malay humor magazines, cultural labor in Korean animation, the reception of Aladdin in Islamic Southeast Asia, and a Singaporean comic book as a reflection of that society’s personality. Four other chapters treat gender and Asian comics, concentrating on Japanese anime and manga and Indian comic books.
Hero. Terrorist. Martyr. Madman. Thunderbolt: An American Tale tells the true story of Old John Brown: abolitionist, insurrectionist, and American legend.
As a young boy in nineteenth-century America, Captain John Brown swore to dedicate his life to the struggle against slavery. Years later, he and his sons have joined the fight in Kansas, the epicenter of the national debate over slavery. As the territory nears statehood, abolitionists and proslavery border ruffians clash in increasingly violent conflict across the territory. But John Brown has more in mind than border skirmishes. He aims to eliminate slavery from US soil once and for all—even if that means raiding a government armory in order to arm a national slave revolt. From the Pottawatomie Massacre to the Battle of Black Jack and the Battle of Osawatomie, this first installment in the story of the legendary John Brown traces the rise of the insurrection in stunning detail.
Gritty, gripping, and masterfully illustrated, Wilfred Santiago’s telling of John Brown’s tale pulls no punches as it unflinchingly recounts the epic struggle across pre–Civil War America. And while John Brown’s methods may be questionable, his story is unforgettable. After all, dying is part of the plan.
Beaty, Bart Rutgers University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PN6728.A72B38 2015 | Dewey Decimal 741.5973
For over seventy-five years, Archie and the gang at Riverdale High have been America’s most iconic teenagers, delighting generations of readers with their never-ending exploits. But despite their ubiquity, Archie comics have been relatively ignored by scholars—until now.
Twelve-Cent Archie is not only the first scholarly study of the Archie comic, it is an innovative creative work in its own right. Inspired by Archie’s own concise storytelling format, renowned comics scholar Bart Beaty divides the book into a hundred short chapters, each devoted to a different aspect of the Archie comics. Fans of the comics will be thrilled to read in-depth examinations of their favorite characters and motifs, including individual chapters devoted to Jughead’s hat and Archie’s sweater-vest. But the book also has plenty to interest newcomers to Riverdale, as it recounts the behind-the-scenes history of the comics and analyzes how Archie helped shape our images of the American teenager.
As he employs a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches, Beaty reveals that the Archie comics themselves were far more eclectic, creative, and self-aware than most critics recognize. Equally comfortable considering everything from the representation of racial diversity to the semiotics of Veronica’s haircut, Twelve-Cent Archie gives a fresh appreciation for America’s most endearing group of teenagers.
In the years following 1975, a group of female-created comic strips came to national attention in a traditionally male-dominated medium. Typical Girls: The Rhetoric of Womanhood in Comic Strips uncovers the understudied and developing history of these strips, defining and exploring the ramifications of this expression of women’s roles at a time of great change in history and in comic art. This impressive, engaging, and timely study illustrates how these comics express the complexities of women’s experiences, especially as such experiences were shaped by shifting and often competing notions of womanhood and feminism. Including the comics of Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse), Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), Nicole Hollander (Sylvia), Lynda Barry (Ernie Pook’s Comeek), Barbara Brandon-Croft (Where I’m Coming From), Alison Bechdel (Dykes to Watch Out For), and Jan Eliot (Stone Soup), Typical Girls is an important history of the representation of womanhood and women’s rights in popular comic strips.
Nick Sousanis Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress BF241.S645 2015 | Dewey Decimal 153.7
The primacy of words over images has deep roots in Western culture. But what if the two are inextricably linked in meaning-making? In this experiment in visual thinking, drawn in comics, Nick Sousanis defies conventional discourse to offer readers a stunning work of graphic art and a serious inquiry into the ways humans construct knowledge.
United States of Banana: A Graphic Novel
Giannina Braschi and Joakim Lindengren Edited and with an introduction by Amanda M. Smith and Amy Sheeran The Ohio State University Press, 2021 Library of Congress PN6790.P93B738 2021 | Dewey Decimal 741.597295
“I was a monument to immigration—now I’m a border control cop.” So admits the Statue of Liberty in Giannina Braschi’s United States of Banana, a rollicking and nakedly political allegory of US imperialism and Puerto Rican independence. Illustrated by Swedish comic book artist Joakim Lindengren and based on Braschi’s epic manifesto by the same title, the story takes us along on the madcap adventures of Zarathustra, Hamlet, and Giannina herself as they rescue the Puerto Rican prisoner Segismundo from under the skirt of the Statue of Liberty. Throughout their quest, the characters debate far-ranging political and philosophical subjects, spanning terrorism, global warming, mass incarceration, revolution, and love. The Marx Brothers, Pablo Neruda, Barack Obama, Disney characters and more make appearances in this stirring call to overthrow empire, liberate the imprisoned masses, and build a new country rooted in friendship, art, poetry, and laughter.
In Unstable Masks: Whiteness and American Superhero Comics, Sean Guynes and Martin Lund bring together a series of essays that contextualize the histories and stakes of whiteness studies, superhero comics, and superhero studies for academics, fans, and media-makers alike. The volume illustrates how the American comic book superhero is fundamentally a figure of white power and white supremacy and ultimately calls for diversity in superhero comics as well as a democratized media culture.
Contributors not only examine superhero narratives but also delve into the production, distribution, audience, and reception of those narratives, highlighting the imbrication of forces that have helped to create, normalize, question, and sometimes even subvert American beliefs about whiteness and race. Unstable Masks considers the co-constitutive nature of identity, representation, narrative, production and consumption, and historical and cultural contexts in forging the stereotypes that decide who gets to be a superhero and who gets to be American on the four-color pages of comic books.
William Marston was an unusual man—a psychologist, a soft-porn pulp novelist, more than a bit of a carny, and the (self-declared) inventor of the lie detector. He was also the creator of Wonder Woman, the comic that he used to express two of his greatest passions: feminism and women in bondage.
Comics expert Noah Berlatsky takes us on a wild ride through the Wonder Woman comics of the 1940s, vividly illustrating how Marston’s many quirks and contradictions, along with the odd disproportionate composition created by illustrator Harry Peter, produced a comic that was radically ahead of its time in terms of its bold presentation of female power and sexuality. Himself a committed polyamorist, Marston created a universe that was friendly to queer sexualities and lifestyles, from kink to lesbianism to cross-dressing. Written with a deep affection for the fantastically pulpy elements of the early Wonder Womancomics, from invisible jets to giant multi-lunged space kangaroos, the book also reveals how the comic addressed serious, even taboo issues like rape and incest.
Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics1941-1948 reveals how illustrator and writer came together to create a unique, visionary work of art, filled with bizarre ambition, revolutionary fervor, and love, far different from the action hero symbol of the feminist movement many of us recall from television.
Though the field of comic book studies has burgeoned in recent years, Latino characters and creators have received little attention. Putting the spotlight on this vibrant segment, Your Brain on Latino Comics illuminates the world of superheroes Firebird, Vibe, and the new Blue Beetle while also examining the effects on readers who are challenged to envision such worlds. Exploring mainstream companies such as Marvel and DC as well as rising stars from other segments of the industry, Frederick Aldama provides a new reading of race, ethnicity, and the relatively new storytelling medium of comics themselves. Overview chapters cover the evolution of Latino influences in comics, innovations, and representations of women, demonstrating Latino transcendence of many mainstream techniques. The author then probes the rich and complex ways in which such artists affect the cognitive and emotional responses of readers as they imagine past, present, and future worlds. Twenty-one interviews with Latino comic book and comic strip authors and artists, including Laura Molina, Frank Espinosa, and Rafael Navarro, complete the study, yielding captivating commentary on the current state of the trade, cultural perceptions, and the intentions of creative individuals who shape their readers in powerful ways.