Stan Lee, "Spider-Man!" Amazing Fantasy No. 15 (Sept. 1962)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Madeley on Manga

Recently published in JPC:

Madeley, June M. "Transnational Transformations: A Gender Analysis of Japanese Manga Featuring Unexpected Bodily Transformations."The Journal of Popular Culture 45.4 (August 2012): 789–806.

The essay can be accsed online through the Wiley Online Library at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-5931.2012.00958.x/abstract

Monday, November 19, 2012

Iron Man 3 Trailer

Lots of news; so little time...

But, here's the latest from Marvel Entertainment:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Origin of Batman for Kids

Here's an older book (now out of print), but it finishes off the trinity of DC super stars for now. Unfortunately, it is extremely divergent from DC canon.

Puckett, Kelley. Batman’s Dark Secret. Illus. John J. Muth. Hello Reader!—Level 3. New York: Scholastic, Oct. 1999. 0-439-09551-4

For young readers aged 6-8, Batman’s Dark Secret adapts the origins of Batman, but Puckett presents a bowdlerized account that subverts the traditional version of the story, which focuses on vengeance as Batman’s motivation to fight crime, to draw a connection between Bruce Wayne as a little boy and the target reader.

Occurring off page, the book opens with the murder of young Bruce Wayne’s parents, and, according to Puckett’s narrative, the boy becomes afraid of the night following their deaths.

Eventually, Wayne tumbles into the cavern beneath Wayne Manor, and there he is forced to face his fears in the form of a giant bat.

By protecting himself from the bat, Wayne regains the confidence he lost following the deaths of his parents, and the boy realizes that he “felt strange, somehow. Different. He would grow up. He would fight evil and win. And he would never be afraid again” (30-32).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wonder Woman for Kids

Both Stone Arch and Harper's I Can Read series have recently tackled the origin of Wonder Woman. Both do a good job with the story and offer a nice balance of old and new. (Stone Arch also has additional adventures of Wonder Woman; details at http://www.capstonepub.com/product/9781434226518.)

Dahl, Michael. Trial of the Amazons. Illus. Dan Schoening. DC Super Heroes: Wonder Woman. Minneapolis and San Diego: Stone Arch Books-Capstone, 2010. 56 pp. 978-1-4342-2263-3

Retells the origin of Wonder Woman and details how the Amazon princess Diana, by showing “not only bravery and strength, but also […] kindness, fairness, and self-sacrifice,” proved herself worthy of being her people’s emissary in the outside world (43). Her mission, as it has always been, is to aid humanity in its ongoing struggle with the war god Ares and, as Diana vows, “lead the mortals to peace and harmony” (18).

Dahl’s story also includes two nods to older fans of Wonder Woman. First, Diana is prompted, at least in part, to leave her home in order to see a wounded pilot (obviously meant to be Steve Trevor), whose plane has crashed nearby Themyscira, returned safely to his home, and, second, Dahl makes use the Invisible Jet as one of Wonder Woman’s tools to be employed in achieving her goals.

The book concludes with brief histories of Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, and of the Amazons, a glossary, discussion questions, and writing prompts

Stein, Erin K. WonderWoman: I Am Wonder Woman. Illus. Rick Farley. I Can Read Level 2. N.p.: Harper-HarperCollinsPublishers, 2010. 32 pp. 978-0-06-188517-4

Stein’s Wonder Woman: I Am Wonder Woman is an account of Wonder Woman’s origins and career as told by the hero herself. Princess Diana of Paradise Island, seeking “to fight for justice,” wins a contest among her Amazon sisters to be the gods’ champion in the world, for, as she explains, “Mankind needed someone to keep the world safe” (9, 6). 

As Wonder Woman, Diana is granted a variety of powers and tools, including the Invisible Jet, to achieve her mission. 

In keeping with popular conceptions of the character, Wonder Woman also describes her life as Diana Prince, her mundane alter ego, and in further homage to the television show, notes how she spins to effect a transformation between her two identities. 

The final pages show Wonder Woman in action and describe her relationship with fellow heroes Superman and Batman.

Superman for Kids

Stone Arch Books has recently published a series of kid-friendly books based on classic DC Comics superheroes, including Superman. The origin story volume is of especial interest for its revisions to the mythos:

Dahl, Michael. Last Son of Krypton. Illus. John Delaney and Lee Loughridge. DC Super Heroes: Superman. Minneapolis and San Diego: Stone Arch Books-Capstone, 2009. 56 pp. 978-1-4342-1370-9

The DC Super Heroes line is created for reluctant readers, but Dahl’s Last Son of Krypton seems to have missed the mark a bit in focusing not on the exploits of Superman but, rather, on some of his earliest adventures as a child. 

Dahl’s narrative combines both old and new elements of the Superman mythos and details how young Kal-El of Krypton (the future Superman) survived the destruction of his home world and found a new family with the Kents on Earth. Of interest, Jor-El, Kal-El’s father, faces opposition by the supercomputer Brainiac in his efforts to warn Krypton’s populace of the plight of their world. Brainiac, who is aware of the impeding cataclysm and merely seeks to be the sole survivor of the planet and its advanced civilization (thus setting up his motivation in future conflicts with Superman), escapes Krypton just before Kal-El. 

Also of note, Kal-El, now Clark Kent, is depicted as absorbing solar radiation from the sun while a small child and, in accordance with the pre-Crisis origins of the character, displays his super-human (and solar-powered) strength while a toddler as opposed to the now canonical approach that his powers developed more slowly and did not fully manifest until his teenage years. 

A brief epilogue concludes the work and addresses Kal-El’s other powers and his efforts as a costumed hero upon reaching adulthood. Appendices include a glossary, discussions questions, and writing prompts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Comics Scholarship in JPC

New comics scholarship in the latest number of The Journal of Popular Culture 45.5 for October 2012. Further details online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpcu.2012.45.issue-5/issuetoc.

“When the Life Giver Dies, All Around Is Laid Waste.” Structural Trauma and the Splitting of Time in Signal to Noise, a Graphic Novel (pages 1000–1019)
Andrés Romero-Jódar

Remembering Why We Once Feared the Dark: Reclaiming Humanity Through Fantasy in Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II (pages 1041–1059)
Tony M. Vinci

Thursday, October 11, 2012

CFP Superhero Synergies

Almost missed this one:

Call for Papers: Collection of Essays
"Superhero Synergies: Genre in the Age of Digital Convergence"
Edited by
James Gilmore (UCLA) and Matthias Stork (UCLA)
Publisher: Scarecrow Press

Since the late 1990s, the proliferation of digital media has opened up a seemingly infinite horizon of narrative possibilities in transmedia storytelling. Traditional ideas about the look and the texture of cinema, television, and comics have equally undergone striking revision in the age of digital convergence. New technologies--including 3-D, video on-demand, and electronic tablets--change the ways we think about media production, aesthetics, and consumption. Digital media have made popular culture a malleable entity to be modified continuously. As a result, popular media do not exist in isolation, but converge into complex multidimensional objects. The Internet further relays this multidimensionality via discussion forums, fan fiction, and video-based criticism.

Nowhere has this phenomenon been more persistent, more creative, or sparked more discussion than in the superhero genre. While the genre is home to many of the most financially successful films of the last 15 years, it has also developed life in video games, digital comics, Internet criticism, video essays, novelizations, television programs, and other forms of media. These media may speak to each other--as in a video game based on the film The Avengers which is, in turn, based on a series of Marvel comic books--or incorporate and critique forms of media--as when the television series Heroes consciously employs comic book aesthetics as a central narrative component. The superhero genre thus forms an ideal lynchpin to examine the contemporary landscape of popular media convergence.

The goal of this anthology is to explore the intricate relationship between superheroes and digital media in an era of convergence. Specifically, we encourage contributors to consider analytical, research-driven, and theoretical work that tackles the problems and possibilities of convergence culture as it relates to the experience and study of superheroes in the contemporary world of digital media. While the anthology incorporates a theoretical dimension, we predominantly seek submissions that emphasize the experience of superheroes and analysis of superhero images in this expanding and converging digital landscape.

Topics may include but are not limited to:
* How do conceptions of “genre” and “narrative” change amidst the interaction of multiple digital media forms?
* Adaptation: How might superhero texts accent themselves as acts of adaptation? How do digital media and transmedia storytelling transform the notion of fidelity?
* Reception study: What opportunities do digital media present for spectators to interact with each other and the media texts, and what are the scope and shape of those fandom culture interactions (i.e. avatar creation, fan fiction, video essay criticism)?
* Textual/aesthetic analysis: How do the texts themselves--comics, films, video games, etc.--employ digital media and technology? In what ways do their aesthetics and structures communicate a converging digital landscape?
* Cultural studies: How do digital media inform the discourse of socio-cultural issues within the genre, its texts, and their reception? How might digital media convergence foster a more complex discourse of these social, cultural, or political issues central to the genre--or do they?
* Marketing aesthetics: How do the advertising strategies for individual texts take advantage of an array of new media technologies?
* Film criticism: How does contemporary criticism use digital media technology to analyze and chronicle the development of the superhero genre?
* Gender analysis: How are male and female bodies figured in the superhero genre, and how have those representations changed over time and across different forms of media?

Interested writers should submit a proposal of approximately 400-600 words. Each proposal should clearly state 1) the research question and/or theoretical goals of the essay, 2) the essay’s relationship to the anthology’s core issues, and 3) a potential bibliography. Please also include a brief CV. Accepted essays should plan to be approximately 6,000-7,000 words.

Deadline for proposals: November 1, 2012
Please send proposals to both contact e-mails:
James Gilmore: james.n.gilmore@gmail.com
Matthias Stork: mstork@ucla.edu
Publication timetable:
November 1, 2012 – Deadline for Proposals
December 15, 2012 – Notification of Acceptance Decisions
April 15, 2013 – Chapter Drafts Due
July 15, 2013 – Chapter Revisions Due
August 30, 2013 – Final Revisions Due
Acceptance will be contingent upon the contributors' ability to meet these deadlines, and to deliver professional-quality work.
If you have any questions, please contact the editors.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

IJoCA Fall 2012

The latest number of the International Journal of Comic Art (14.2 for Fall 2012) arrived in this week's mail. It totals 502 pages and (as usual) includes essays on a wide of comics. Complete contents to be posted ASAP.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Comics Scholarship in JPC

Catching up--

Here are the details of material of interest from recent issues of The Journal of Popular Culture. Full access to the journal is available at the Wiley Online Library.

Vol. 45.1, February 2012

Book Reviews

Morrison, Grant. Supergods. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2011. Reviewed by Anthony Burns.

Vol. 45.2, April 2012

Editorial: “Look, up in the sky…”
by Gary Hoppenstand


“Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman Redux: Masculinity and Misogyny in Blade” by
Jonathan Gayles.

“Transatlantic Terror! French Horror Theatre and American Pre-Code Comics” by Richard J. Hand and Michael Wilson.

“Superheroes on the Couch: Exploring our Limits” by Lawrence Rubin.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Robot Chicken DCU Special

Coming in September:

Batman: Earth One?

Geoff John's recent graphic novel Batman: Earth One offers a radical take on the Dark Knight that makes him far more human than we're used it (see the summary on Wikipedia). There are also some shocking twists to his traditional back story and some very original takes on the supporting cast. This is certainly a transformative take on Batman, and, even after two reads, I'm still not sure if I'd recommend it. Still, there is certainly much for discussion and debate.

Some useful resources include the following:

BATMAN For A New Era: Gary Frank on BATMAN: EARTH ONE (08 Dec. 2009)

Exclusive! Batman Re-Imagined: An Interview With Geoff Johns (n.d.)

Interview: Geoff Johns Brings Batman to 'Earth One' + EXCLUSIVE Art! (25 June 2012)

Batman: Earth One with Geoff Johns (Plus Exclusive Pages!) (10 July 2012)

Geoff Johns crafts an Everyman Batman in 'Earth One' book (27 June 2012)

INTERVIEW: Geoff Johns talks Batman Earth One (29 June 2012)

‘Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘Earth One’ : A hero lost in shadows (30 June 2012)


Interview: Artist Gary Frank Talks BATMAN: EARTH ONE, Vol. 2, SHAZAM, and More (19 July 2012)

Gary Frank Speaks on 'Batman: Earth One' and 'Shazam' (19 July 2012)

Extended Reviews:





Thursday, August 16, 2012

Joe Kubert Has Died

Comics creator Joe Kubert passed away earlier this week. A detailed obituary can be accessed from the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/14/arts/design/joe-kubert-giant-of-comic-book-art-dies-at-85.html. For details of his career can be found online at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Kubert).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Brooker on Batman Links

A series of recent Batman pieces by Will Brooker in anticipation of his new book and the current Batmania:

"Review of The Dark Knight Rises." (19 July 2012)

"Batman can't come out as gay – his character relies on him being in denial." (28 May 2012)

"Occupy Gotham: Analysing the Dark Knight Rises Viral Campaign." (8 May 2012)

"Clothes and the Batman: Analysing the Outfits in Dark Knight Rises." (5 May 2012)

"My Life With Batman." (3 May 2012)

"Why Fans of The Dark Knight Should Embrace Batman: The Musical." (24 April 2012)

"Anne Hathaway's New Catwoman Outfit - First Images." (16 April 2012)

In addition, there is also an interview with Brooker at the Scottscope website accessible at http://www.scottsmindfield.com/2012/06/dark-knight-dissected-interview-with.html.

Will Brooker Returns to Batman

Will Brooker, author of Batman Unmasked: Analyzing a Cultural Icon (Continuum, 2000), returns to the world of the Caped Crusader in a follow-up book that has received a lot of attention online. Here are the details.

Hunting the Dark Knight: Twenty-first Century Batman 
Will Brooker

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd

Hardback  £57.50
ISBN: 9781848852792
Publication Date: 30 May 2012
Number of Pages: 272
Height: 216
Width: 134

Paperback  £12.99
ISBN: 9781848852808
Publication Date: 30 May 2012
Number of Pages: 272
Height: 216
Width: 134

Publishing alongside the world premiere of Christopher Nolan's third Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises", Will Brooker's new book explores Batman's twenty-first century incarnations. Brooker's close analysis of "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" offers a rigorous, accessible account of the complex relationship between popular films, audiences, and producers in our age of media convergence. By exploring themes of authorship, adaptation and intertextuality, he addresses a myriad of questions raised by these films: did "Batman Begins" end when "The Dark Knight began? Does its story include the Gotham Knight DVD, or the 'Why So Serious' viral marketing campaign? Is it separate from the parallel narratives of the Arkham Asylum videogame, the monthly comic books, the animated series and the graphic novels? Can the brightly campy incarnations of the Batman ever be fully repressed by "The Dark Knight", or are they an intrinsic part of the character? Do all of these various manifestations feed into a single Batman metanarrative? This will be a vital text for film students and academics, as well as legions of Batman fans.

Will Brooker is a leading expert on the Dark Knight, author of the cultural history of Batman, Batman Unmasked.  His other books include Using the Force and Alice’s Adventures. He edited the Audience Studies Reader and The Blade Runner Experience, and wrote the BFI Film Classics volume on Star Wars.  He is Reader and Director of Research in Film and Television at Kingston University, London, and is the editor of Cinema Journal.