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“Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound . . . It’s Superman!” Bending Steel examines the historical origins and cultural significance of Superman and his fellow American crusaders. Cultural historian Aldo J. Regalado asserts that the superhero seems a direct response to modernity, often fighting the interrelated processes of industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and capitalism that transformed the United States from the early nineteenth century to the present. Reeling from these exciting but rapid and destabilizing forces, Americans turned to heroic fiction as a means of explaining national and personal identities to themselves and to the world. In so doing, they created characters and stories that sometimes affirmed, but other times subverted conventional notions of race, class, gender, and nationalism.

The cultural conversation articulated through the nation’s early heroic fiction eventually led to a new heroic type—the brightly clad, super-powered, pro-social action heroes that first appeared in American comic books starting in the late 1930s. Although indelibly shaped by the Great Depression and World War II sensibilities of the second-generation immigrants most responsible for their creation, comic book superheroes remain a mainstay of American popular culture.

Tracing superhero fiction all the way back to the nineteenth century, Regalado firmly bases his analysis of dime novels, pulp fiction, and comics in historical, biographical, and reader response sources. He explores the roles played by creators, producers, and consumers in crafting superhero fiction, ultimately concluding that these narratives are essential for understanding vital trajectories in American culture.
When Art Spiegelman's Maus-a two-part graphic novel about the Holocaust-won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, comics scholarship grew increasingly popular and notable. The rise of "serious" comics has generated growing levels of interest as scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals continue to explore the history, aesthetics, and semiotics of the comics medium.

Yet those who write about the comics often assume analysis of the medium didn't begin until the cultural studies movement was underway. Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium brings together nearly two dozen essays by major writers and intellectuals who analyzed, embraced, and even attacked comic strips and comic books in the period between the turn of the century and the 1960s. From e. e. cummings, who championed George Herriman's Krazy Kat, to Irving Howe, who fretted about Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie, this volume shows that comics have provided a key battleground in the culture wars for over a century.

With substantive essays by Umberto Eco, Marshall McLuhan, Leslie Fiedler, Gilbert Seldes, Dorothy Parker, Irving Howe, Delmore Schwartz, and others, this anthology shows how all of these writers took up comics-related topics as a point of entry into wider debates over modern art, cultural standards, daily life, and mass communication.

Arguing Comics shows how prominent writers from the Jazz Age and the Depression era to the heyday of the New York Intellectuals in the 1950s thought about comics and, by extension, popular culture as a whole.

What Cold War-era superheroes reveal about American society and foreign policy
Physicist Bruce Banner, caught in the nuclear explosion of his experimental gamma bomb, is transformed into the rampaging green monster, the Hulk. High school student Peter Parker, bitten by an irradiated spider, gains its powers and becomes Spiderman. Reed Richards and his friends are caught in a belt of cosmic radiation while orbiting the Earth in a spacecraft and are transformed into the Fantastic Four. While Stan Lee suggests he clung to the hackneyed idea of radioactivity in creating Marvel's stable of superheroes because of his limited imagination, radiation and the bomb are nonetheless the big bang that spawned the Marvel universe.


The Marvel superheroes that came to dominate the comic book industry for most of the last five decades were born under the mushroom cloud of potential nuclear war that was a cornerstone of the four-decade bipolar division of the world between the US and USSR. These stories were consciously set in this world and reflect the changing culture of cold War (and post-cold War) America. Like other forms of popular entertainment, comic books tend to be very receptive to cultural trends, reflect them, comment on them, and sometimes inaugurate them.


Secret Identity Crisis follows the trajectory of the breakdown of the cold War consensus after 1960 through the lens of superhero comic books. Those developed by Marvel, because of their conscious setting in the contemporary world, and because of attempts to maintain a continuous story line across and within books, constitute a system of signs that reflect, comment upon, and interact with the American political economy. This groundbreaking new study focuses on a handful of titles and signs that specifically involve political economic codes, including Captain America, the Invincible Iron Man, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, the Incredible Hulk to reveal how the American self was transformed and/or reproduced during the late Cold War and after.
A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of Wonder Woman, one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism

Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator. Beginning in his undergraduate years at Harvard, Marston was influenced by early suffragists and feminists, starting with Emmeline Pankhurst, who was banned from speaking on campus in 1911, when Marston was a freshman. In the 1920s, Marston and his wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century. The Marston family story is a tale of drama, intrigue, and irony. In the 1930s, Marston and Byrne wrote a regular column for Family Circle celebrating conventional family life, even as they themselves pursued lives of extraordinary nonconformity. Marston, internationally known as an expert on truth—he invented the lie detector test—lived a life of secrets, only to spill them on the pages of Wonder Woman.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.
 
This edition includes a new afterword with fresh revelations based on never before seen letters and photographs from the Marston family’s papers.

With 161 illustrations and 16 pages in full color

The story of the rise and fall of those comic books has never been fully told -- until The Ten-Cent Plague. David Hajdu's remarkable new book vividly opens up the lost world of comic books, its creativity, irreverence, and suspicion of authority.

In the years between World War II and the emergence of television as a mass medium, American popular culture as we know it was first created—in the pulpy, boldly illustrated pages of comic books. No sooner had this new culture emerged than it was beaten down by church groups, community bluestockings, and a McCarthyish Congress—only to resurface with a crooked smile on its face in Mad magazine.

When we picture the 1950s, we hear the sound of early rock and roll. The Ten-Cent Plague shows how -- years before music -- comics brought on a clash between children and their parents, between prewar and postwar standards. Created by outsiders from the tenements, garish, shameless, and often shocking, comics spoke to young people and provided the guardians of mainstream culture with a big target. Parents, teachers, and complicit kids burned comics in public bonfires. Cities passed laws to outlaw comics. Congress took action with televised hearings that nearly destroyed the careers of hundreds of artists and writers.

The Ten-Cent Plague radically revises common notions of popular culture, the generation gap, and the divide between "high" and "low" art. As he did with the lives of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington (in Lush Life) and Bob Dylan and his circle (in Positively 4th Street), Hajdu brings a place, a time, and a milieu unforgettably back to life.

With a foreword from Christopher Sabat and Sean Schemmel, Dragon Soul: 30 Years of Dragon Ball Fandom is a grand celebration of the world's greatest anime and manga and it's momentous 30th Anniversary.

Join me on a global adventure in search of the 7 dragon balls, as we head west toward Japan, the birthplace of Dragon Ball. Along the way we'll meet 81 fans from 25 countries who will share their Dragon Ball story. From artists to authors, collectors to philosophers, we'll hear their Dragon Soul and discover how Dragon Ball changed their lives. Includes over 100 images.

We'll meet such famous fans as Lawrence Simpson (MasakoX) from Team Four Star, Malik from Dragon Ball New Age, Salagir from Dragon Ball Multiverse, MMA fighter Marcus Brimage, YouTube celebrities SSJGoshin4, Nelson Junior (Casa do Kame), and film critic Chris Stuckmann, famous cosplayers "Living Ichigo," Atara Collis, and Jah'lon Escudero, the creators of Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope, Twitter star @Goku, authors Patrick Galbraith, Nestor Rubio, and Vicente Ramirez, and dozens more.

Joining us will be 27 professionals from 7 countries, including American voice actors Chris Sabat (Vegeta), Sean Schemmel (Goku), Chris Ayres (Freeza), Chris Rager (Mister Satan), Mike McFarland (Master Roshi), Chuck Huber (Android 17), Kyle Hebert (Son Gohan), Jason Douglas (Beerus), Chris Cason (Tenshinhan), FUNimation employees Justin Rojas, Adam Sheehan, and Rick Villa, Dragon Ball Z composer Bruce Faulconer, Dragon Ball manga editor Jason Thompson, Canadian voice actors Peter Kelamis (Goku) and Brian Drummond (Vegeta), Latin American voice actors Mario Castaneda (Goku), Rene Garcia (Vegeta), Eduardo Garza (Krillin), French voice actor Eric Legrand (Vegeta), French journalist Olivier Richard, Spanish voice actors Jose Antonio Gavira (Goku), Julia Oliva (Chichi), and manga editor David Hernando, Danish voice actors Caspar Philllipson (Goku) and Peter Secher Schmidt (Freeza), and Brazilian voice actor Wendel Bezerra (Goku).

Gather your belongings, jump on your magic cloud, and embark on a grand adventure, in Dragon Soul: 30 Years of Dragon Ball Fandom!
"There is no better, smarter examination of the relationship between comics and film."

--Mark Waid, Eisner Award-winning writer of Kingdom Come and Daredevil

In the summer of 2000 X-Men surpassed all box office expectations and ushered in an era of unprecedented production of comic book film adaptations. This trend, now in its second decade, has blossomed into Hollywood's leading genre. From superheroes to Spartan warriors, The Comic Book Film Adaptation offers the first dedicated study to examine how comic books moved from the fringes of popular culture to the center of mainstream film production.

Through in-depth analysis, industry interviews, and audience research, this book charts the cause-and-effect of this influential trend. It considers the cultural traumas, business demands, and digital possibilities that Hollywood faced at the dawn of the twenty-first century. The industry managed to meet these challenges by exploiting comics and their existing audiences. However, studios were caught off-guard when these comic book fans, empowered by digital media, began to influence the success of these adaptations. Nonetheless, filmmakers soon developed strategies to take advantage of this intense fanbase, while codifying the trend into a more lucrative genre, the comic book movie, which appealed to an even wider audience. Central to this vibrant trend is a comic aesthetic in which filmmakers utilize digital filmmaking technologies to engage with the language and conventions of comics like never before.

The Comic Book Film Adaptation explores this unique moment in which cinema is stimulated, challenged, and enriched by the once-dismissed medium of comics.

Since 1940, Captain America has battled his enemies in the name of American values, and as those values have changed over time, so has Captain America’s character. Because the comic book world fosters a close fan–creator dialogue, creators must consider their ever-changing readership. Comic book artists must carefully balance storyline continuity with cultural relevance. Captain America’s seventy-year existence spans from World War II through the Cold War to the American War on Terror; beginning as a soldier unopposed to offensive attacks against foreign threats, he later becomes known as a defender whose only weapon is his iconic shield. In this way, Captain America reflects America’s need to renegotiate its social contract and reinvent its national myths and cultural identity, all the while telling stories proclaiming an eternal and unchanging spirit of America.

In Captain America, Masculinity, and Violence, Stevens reveals how the comic book hero has evolved to maintain relevance to America’s fluctuating ideas of masculinity, patriotism, and violence. Stevens outlines the history of Captain America’s adventures and places the unfolding storyline in dialogue with the comic book industry as well as America’s varying political culture. Stevens shows that Captain America represents the ultimate American story: permanent enough to survive for nearly seventy years with a history fluid enough to be constantly reinterpreted to meet the needs of an ever-changing culture.

The Amazing Spider-Man. The Incredible Hulk. The Invincible Iron Man. Black Panther. These are just a few of the iconic superheroes to emerge from the mind of Stan Lee.

From the mean streets of Depression-era New York City to recipient of the National Medal of Arts, Lee’s life has been almost as remarkable as the thrilling adventures he spun for decades. From millions of comic books fans of the 1960s through billions of moviegoers around the globe, Stan Lee has touched more people than almost any person in the history of popular culture.

In Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel, Bob Batchelor offers an eye-opening look at this iconic visionary, a man who created (with talented artists) many of history’s most legendary characters. In this energetic and entertaining biography, Batchelor explores how Lee capitalized on natural talent and hard work to become the editor of Marvel Comics as a teenager. After toiling in the industry for decades, Lee threw caution to the wind and went for broke, co-creating the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and others in a creative flurry that revolutionized comic books for generations of readers. Marvel superheroes became a central part of pop culture, from collecting comics to innovative merchandising, from superhero action figures to the ever-present Spider-Man lunchbox.

Batchelor examines many of Lee’s most beloved works, including the 1960s comics that transformed Marvel from a second-rate company to a legendary publisher. This book reveals the risks Lee took to bring the characters to life and Lee’s tireless efforts to make comic books and superheroes part of mainstream culture for more than fifty years.

Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel not only reveals why Lee developed into such a central figure in American entertainment history, but brings to life the cultural significance of comic books and how the superhero genre reflects ideas central to the American experience. Candid, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, this is a biography of a man who dreamed of one day writing the Great American Novel, but ended up doing so much more—changing American culture by creating new worlds and heroes that have entertained generations of readers.
Along with Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman, the Joker stands out as one of the most recognizable comics characters in popular culture. While there has been a great deal of scholarly attention on superheroes, very little has been done to understand supervillains. This is the first academic work to provide a comprehensive study of this villain, illustrating why the Joker appears so relevant to audiences today.

Batman's foe has cropped up in thousands of comics, numerous animated series, and three major blockbuster feature films since 1966. Actually, the Joker debuted in DC comics Batman 1 (1940) as the typical gangster, but the character evolved steadily into one of the most ominous in the history of sequential art. Batman and the Joker almost seemed to define each other as opposites, hero and nemesis, in a kind of psychological duality. Scholars from a wide array of disciplines look at the Joker through the lens of feature films, video games, comics, politics, magic and mysticism, psychology, animation, television, performance studies, and philosophy. As the first volume that examines the Joker as complex cultural and cross-media phenomenon, this collection adds to our understanding of the role comic book and cinematic villains play in the world and the ways various media affect their interpretation. Connecting the Clown Prince of Crime to bodies of thought as divergent as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche, contributors demonstrate the frightening ways in which we get the monsters we need.
Winner of the 2017 Eisner Award in the Best Academic/Scholarly Work category

2017 Prose Awards Honorable Mention, Media & Cultural Studies

Over the last 75 years, superheroes have been portrayed most often as male, heterosexual, white, and able-bodied. Today, a time when many of these characters are billion-dollar global commodities, there are more female superheroes, more queer superheroes, more superheroes of color, and more disabled superheroes--but not many more.

Superwomen investigates how and why female superhero characters have become more numerous but are still not-at-all close to parity with their male counterparts; how and why they have become a flashpoint for struggles over gender, sexuality, race, and disability; what has changed over time and why in terms of how these characters have been written, drawn, marketed, purchased, read, and reacted to; and how and why representations of superheroes matter, particularly to historically underrepresented and stereotyped groups.

Specifically, the book explores the production, representations, and receptions of prominent transmedia female superheroes from their creation to the present: Wonder Woman; Batgirl and Oracle; Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Star Wars' Padmé Amidala, Leia Organa, Jaina Solo, and Rey; and X-Men's Jean Grey, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Rogue, and Mystique. It analyzes their changing portrayals in comics, novels, television shows, and films, as well as how cultural narratives of gender have been negotiated through female superheroes by creators, consumers, and parent companies over the last several decades.
The ultimate book for Prince Valiant fans and collectors.Out of print for over a decade, The Prince Valiant Companion has become a Holy Grail for collectors of the series. Now, in anticipation of the seventy-fifth anniversary of comics’ longest-running adventure strip, and to celebrate their own just-launched reprinting of the strip’s classic earliest years, Fantagraphics is proud to present an expanded version of this hard-to-find collector’s item. Compiled by award-winning Foster biographer Brian M. Kane, The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion beautifully and definitively showcases the careers of artists Hal Foster, John Cullen Murphy, and Gary Gianni.

In addition to updating the original version’s story synopsis section with over thirty years of material, The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion also contains rare and new articles. Included in this volume is a never before reprinted newspaper feature from 1949, Foster’s final interview conducted by Arn Saba, an extensive interview with John Cullen Murphy, and a new interview with the current Prince Valiant creative team of Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz. The Companion also contains a new, in-depth article by Kane on Foster’s artistic influences, as well as a foreword by comics historian Brian Walker, and an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ray Bradbury.

A special feature of The Companion is a sixteen-page color section of carefully selected strips from the entire run of the comic. Showcasing this section are eight pages by Foster, scanned and digitally restored from original color engraver’s proofs that had been carefully stored and preserved for over forty years. For the first time ever, collectors will be able to see Prince Valiant as Foster intended it to be seen, with all of his fine inked line work intact. Rounding out this section are four John Cullen Murphy pages from the Murphy family’s collection of proofs, and four Gary Gianni pages that were selected by the artist and digitally recolored under his supervision.
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