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and 1970s reflected a cultural revolution, the book reveals how nonwhite superheroes nonetheless remained grounded in outdated assumptions.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.
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.
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