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The Kull/ Conan Problem

In a recent article, my colleague and I argued for consideration of the origins of the superhero in relation to the action adventure hero in pulp magazines. We discuss at length, the origins of the pulp magazine character type and of course examined Conan the Barbarian created by Robert E. Howard. Yet, I think there is much to be said about two other Howard characters: Kull and Solomon Kane. In both, I think Howard offered a complex narrative about race and identity. As a consequence, neither character reached the popularity attained by Conan. In Kull especially, the tension between established modern races and "primitives" is front and center.

For the Kull stories Howard created a ‘Pre-Cataclysmic age’ set before the dawn of recorded history. Atlantis and Lemuria had not yet vanished into the seas, but they are inhabited by savages not by advanced, utopian civilizations. In the Kull stories, the Thurian continent boasted grand civilizations and mysterious pre-human races. …

Best Essay of the Year

Julian Chambliss and William Svitavsky received the Jerome Stern Award for best essay in 2008 Issue of Studies of American Culture. We won for our essay "From Pulp Hero to Superhero: Culture, Race, and Identity in American Popular Culture, 1900-1940"

The Comic Book City (CBC): Comics are an Urban Topic I

One of the constant questions that I face as a historian is why do I spend time researching comic books and comic book culture. The reasons for these questions are numerous. On one level, it is a question of training (although seldom vocalized as such). This is fair question, I did not graduate from an American Studies Program—I graduated from a history program. Moreover, I do not focus on a “cultural” topic in same way some of my peers did. Indeed, I avoided the more exotic theory driven analytical approaches pursued by my peers. This was not from lack of understanding, if anything it was from annoyance (if you have ever been in a meeting with someone who won't shut-up, think about that person channeling dozens of other people who won't shut up—that is the grad student in love with theory. It gets old quick. These questions aside, my concern with the city has personal, professional, and ideological foundations. This is not a space I feel a need to explain every nuisance …

Comic and Scholarship

The semester is over and now we will get to the hard work of considering the good, the bad, and the ugly of the class this semester. While I and my colleague felt good about some of the aspect of the class, we struggled with others. We will touch base about what the future holds later. What I really want to do is point out that overall, our efforts are paying off. This October our article on the transition from pulp era adventure magazine to golden age comics will be published in Studies in American Culture. If that was not enough, this month we were quoted in CNN.COM story on the Ten Cent Plague, a new book about the anti-comic scare of the 1950s. Follow the link for more information.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/books/05/08/comic.books/index.html

Body Image in Comics

When I first chose my topic for my research paper, “sexuality and body image in comics”, I figured that I would find many books and sources on that topic. It seemed to me, that the unrealistic body image representations in comic books would have caused much controversy in the early twenty-first century. Even though I did not find as many sources as I would have liked, I did discover some interesting information. A large part of my research paper was dedicated towards the effects of the portrayal of the super-heroines body images, and why comic book editors drew women in that particular way. First of all, women were drawn with large breasts and long legs to appeal to and attract young men. This is a very obvious reason since the allure of skimpy dressed women in tight costumes sparked comic books sales. However, another reason why super-heroines were dressed as they were is because it gave a chance for success. The super-heroine, Phantom Lady used her sex appeal to “distract her male f…

Civil War

Civil War must have been my favorite comic books that we read throughout the semester. I thought it was really cool how it took place in today’s age. Although it was always interesting to read comic books that appeared in the early twenty-first century, it was more difficult to relate to them since they reflected the lives of Americans at that particular time. Civil War, on the other hand incorporates important people of today’s society, such as Larry King on CNN and Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan in a night club. I also thought it was interesting that the conflict in Civil War symbolizes a similar conflict that the United States deals with today. The issue of Civil War is the fight between the “good” and the “bad”.The superheroes are supposed to sign the registration act which requires them to reveal their secret identity and work for the government for compensation.As many superheroes refuse to join the other side, the main theme of Civil War becomes “whose side are you on?”.In toda…

Sorry to steal this last one about Astro City...

Although we didn't spend a great deal of time talking about it in class, I very much enjoyed reading Astro City - I felt that it was really fresh and, despite it obvious references to other existing superheroes, really unlike anything else that we had read. The characters had depth and issues and we got to see aspects of superhero life that just aren't ever discussed, such as dating and how exhausting it is to try to save the world even when you can travel thousands of miles a second.

My favorite story (that no one else seemed to like very much :)) was the one about the woman from the haunted hill who comes into the city and is more afraid of what she encounters there than the monsters and demons lurking around her town every night. Obviously this story was a reference to tradition vs. change but even superficially, it was so strange and intriguing and that was what really made it interesting. I've always been fascinated by narratives, whether in literature or film, that ju…

Astro City

I think one of the comics I most enjoyed reading this semester was “AstroCity”. While the characters could clearly be linked to the classic comic book characters, like The Samaritan to Superman and Winged Victory to Wonder Woman, they were far enough away to be portrayed differently and perhaps more realistically. They give a different spin on the old character types that draws the reader in.
One of the things that has always bothered me about Superman is his seeming invincibility. He always succeeds and is happy about helping people- he is just the regular Boy Scout. The Samaritan, on the other hand, is a worn down Superman. He still feels it his duty to help everyone, but he feels the stress of always helping people and never having a spare moment to just relax. Showing this weakness, this perceived flaw, makes him a much more likable character. Rather than being the unattainable form of perfection, people can sympathize with him, if just to a small degree.
I also liked how this story…

I am Iron Man (guitars rocking out in the background)!

So, I saw Iron Man last night and I have to say, I was really impressed. In the past few years, comic books movies have really exploded (no pun intended) onto the scene and while some of them are really well-executed, others... not so much. When I saw that IM had a 95% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I seriously did a double take. For any film (let alone a comic book movie) to be that well-reviewed, it has to be pretty amazing and I was pleased not only because of the movie itself, but because of what it meant for the way that people view comic book movies overall in our culture.

I wasn't very familiar with the character of Iron Man before we read Civil War but after having read that graphic novel and seeing the movie, I'm was very intrigued. Tony Stark seems to be one of the more complex characters I've seen and I think that Robert Downey Jr. was perfectly cast because he can pull off the intital outward arrogance and inner emptiness as well as the transformation of T…

Mythology and Superheroes in Comics

Ohhh my goodness... When I decided on trying to analyze the mythological origins and references in superhero comics, I had no idea the can of worms I was opening up... On the one hand, it was awesome to see just how many connections there were between superheroes and psychology/mythology/philosophy, but all the information also made it terribly difficult to distinguish what I should be using and how to tie it all together. When I was talking to one of my sorority sisters about it she said, "Oh yeah, well, research essays are kind of like putting together puzzles..." and I think that really sums up what writing this paper was like for me. Fortunately, I was really interested throughout the whole process and I very much enjoyed writing the paper.

Being a psychology major, I was especially interested in reading about the Jungian archetypes that had a lot of parallels with major modern comic books superheroes. I was also able to incorporate Joseph Campbell's "hero cycle&…

My photo essay

When I heard that we'd be doing a photo essay for this class, I was a little confused but excited too since I'd never really even heard of a photo essay before and I thought it'd give me a good chance to be creative... It ended up being a lot harder than I thought because my essay actually needed to have a theme rather than being just a random collection of comic-related photos...

I settled on the idea of showcasing the parts of comic culture that are more ambiguous and that kind of stealthily creep into our lives and make us comic fans without even realizing it. Big examples of this are comic book movies, merchandise with cartoon characters on it, and toys that we play with when we're little that are related to comic culture, like action figures and dolls. I also noted the "8th season" of Buffy that became available in comic form, which was a really kind of a blatant way for comics to say, "Hey, here I am, I'm important!" to a group of people wh…

Photo Essay

I really liked the photo essay. I thought it was a fun and interesting way to get into the topic of comic books. One of the things that the photo essay really helped to accomplish was that it forced me to go out into the community to figure out how comic book culture was influencing contemporary culture. To be truthful, it is not a subject I had ever really given much thought to before. Even in class, while we were discussing the topic, it never really hit me everything that the comic book industry influences.
The photo essay let me discover things that I knew, but never really noticed before. For example, I knew there were superhero themed movies out, but I had no idea that they were making a parody of superhero movies. And I had a vague idea that they make foods in fun shapes, but it was not until I was searching for superhero themed products that I realized there was Spiderman shaped macaroni and cheese.
The photo essay was also what prompted me to go out and discover the comic book…

Online Comics

The use of the internet as a tool to discuss and be further exposed to comics is really cool. I really enjoyed the web page “Women in Refrigerators”. They way it opened the topics to creators and let them personally give their opinions and viewpoints on the subject were fascinating. They were also very helpful while I was writing my research paper. Having responses like this available online gives an opportunity to further understand comics that would have never been available otherwise. If someone had taken the initiative to question why there are certain trends in comics or why the creators are portraying a topic in a certain way, before the internet was available, it would have stuck with that one person. The internet however allows for a free flow of information and ideas to become available to the wider public.
It was also rather neat how comics are being made available online. Essentially everyone has access to a computer. Putting comics online furthers their availability for the…

Availability

One week we were discussing the comic book shop and comics as a business. To share my own experience with comics, it is quite possible to go through life without ever picking up a comic book or ever seeing one. My first experience ever actually holding a comic in my hands was for this American Graphic Media class. If I am not just an oblivious anomaly, it is no wonder that the comic book industry is on the decline. Before this semester, I didn’t even know where to buy comic books, let alone that they had their own shops. It seems that if the comic book industry wants to entice new readers, rather than just retain their old ones that are already acquainted with the industry, they need to promote the actual comic books more actively and make them more readily available.
In the comic book Golden Age of the 1940’s and 1950’s the comic books were available on the newsstands and grocery stores, places the general public has ready access to. I rather think that comics should try to go back t…

Copyright

The topic we discussed in class was about the debate over copyright. Those that argue against having a copyright say that the copyright infringes on peoples freedom of speech. It was suggested in class that the copyright was originally initiated in the United States to promote the creative processes and encourage inventions. That originally the copyright was only good for a very short period of time- just 14 years, and then it was public domain. But over the years, the time for which the copyright was viable has been extended.
It seems to me that the copyright should extend for a person’s life time, if not longer. That anyone other than the original creator of an idea can profit on the ideas seems rather wrong. Or at least if another person works on the idea and adapts it, that they give the credit where it is due and don’t act as though all of the concepts were their own. For some things, where a corporation owns an idea the rules should be a little different. I think Disney should ha…

What Defines A Superhero

In Chapter 3, Coogan defines what it is to be a superhero. The three primary conventions that define a superhero are: their mission to benefit humanity, superpowers, and an identity consisting of a codename and costume. The other conventions of the superhero genre include: supervillains, superhero physics, limited/ helpful authorities, superteams, sidekicks, etc.
One of the figures that we have studied this year that obviously pertains to the role of a superhero is Superman. Stated in the very first comic, his mission is to aid humanity. He has superhuman abilities, like jumping huge distances, really good hearing, and super strength. He also has a dual identity, transforming himself from the average citizen Clark Kent to Superman- a hero with a costume that indicates his identity with the chevron and uses bold primary colors.
The Black Condor’s mission is to protect the American public- which he does when he attempts to save Senator Wright and later when he finds out the President has …

Oh Yeah, American Graphic Media!

You know, when all is said and done, what a great class this was. When will we ever get a chance to study comic books for a whole semester in our journeys toward scholar-hood. Most likely never again. I have had several of my friends come up to me and roll their eyes at the subject material for this course. At first all I had to defend myself was throwing out nifty, trivial pursuit-like facts about comics like the man who invented Wonder Woman graduated with a Ph.D. from Harvard and invented the Lie Detector machine, or some man named Thomas Nast created the images of Santa Claus and Uncle Sam.

That was fine and all, but that did not convince my friends to believe in the credibility of American Graphic Media. Much time has passed since then, and now I fell more prepared to face the challenging assumptions the course still has. Now I can talked about how the Nuclear age of the 1950s was reflected in comic books with stories of the ill-fate Atoman, and Captain Marvel's nuclear holoca…

I'm Batman...

Images from www.shortpacked.com
The theory presented here is actually very interesting and valid. The image of Batman stepping on a rake makes me giggle every time I think of it. If this idea were embraced more often, Marvel and/or DC could corner a niche market with a series monthly completely comedic, over-the-top revisions of well-known characters. Marvel has done this to an extent with its "What If" series of comics, and DC joined with Dark Horse to create the darkly comedic "Joker/Mask" crossover, but an overall cynical view of the industry's otherwise most beloved characters would be refreshing.





More Bat-Antics:

http://www.shortpacked.com/d/20050218.html
http://www.shortpacked.com/d/20050131.html

My Take on Copyrights

From a business/economic perspective, copyright laws make plenty of sense. Anyone who does creative work for a living would like to be sure that no one else can begin stealing the source of their daily bread.
However, from a creative standpoint, copyrights inhibit free thought and place creative minds in a more concerned, "am I allowed to use this?" state. Traditionally, in the world of comics, the only new perspectives we get on classic characters are those approved by the publishers themselves. New revisions are now sometimes available on the internet (see the picture in a previous post of the Peanuts dressed as Watchmen), but rarely do we get new, interesting views at characters whose qualities many may take for granted. Consider "Punisher kills the Marvel Universe," a fun one-shot comic in which the Punisher murders just about every other hero Marvel has ever produced, including all of the X-Men AND their villains. The overall effect is fanciful and darkly …

Retconning-- Or, Repairing the Past

Although we didn't specifically study this in class, I think it is something worth discussing. Also, I was prompted to write this by a previous blog post about Spiderman revealing his secret identity in Civil War.

When Marvel decided to take such a big step by publishing this comic, they shocked readers and convinced them that Spiderman's world would never be the same. Then along came One More Day, a controversial story that erased this event completely and once again restored Parker's secret identity.
This is not the first time Marvel, or any comic book company, has done this. Consider how many characters have "died" at least three or four times. Sometimes even seeing the corpse is not enough to convince readers. Also consider the third X-Men film, in which (SPOILER) the writers make the strong decision to remove Magneto's powers, only to hint that they are being restored in the end of the film. While this may be typical of movies in general (always lea…

Photo Essay

I am going to be honest; I did not like doing the photo essay. I feel like we were too restricted with what we were supposed to do.I believe that it is difficult to be creative if we are held back from doing what we really wanted to do – and honestly, I feel like a photo essay is a great opportunity to be creative. I think it would have been interesting if we could have written our own comic, any comic we wanted to create, as long as we integrated some important issues that America faces today.But, either way, this was not our assignment.Although, to be completely honest again, I had a difficult time understanding where the line was between comic book culture and something that has nothing to do with comic books, but it can be seen as comic book culture if you look at it from a different perspective.I would have loved to pick ten very complex and abstract pictures that do not have “comic book culture” written all over them, but rather pictures that indicate a comic book culture “theme…

Comics and Final Photo Essay

When trying to figure out what to do for the photo essay I found that there are many important topics that are associated with comics and our society today. International, as well as American, culture is well reflected in comic books. Comic books reveal the fears and tensions that exist throughout the world. As I thought about this, the topic of atomic weapons and fear of their use is what I began to focus on. My photo essay discussed the fear of atomic power that existed during the Cold War , present day, and in the future. I had pictures that represented international struggle to plead with those individuals responsible for the use of nuclear power. They pleaded for these individuals to halt their usage of atomic power because of the impending death that the world would face if they went through with their plans. These men continue with the experimentation with atomic power and destroy the world. The world has fallen because of an accident and billions have died. There is hope thou…

Who Watches the Watchmen

The 1980s seems to be the era that defined the comics we read now. Works like Watchmen defined the way we see heroes now, and how we interpret graphic novels today. The cookie-cutter images of heroes could no longer prevail in prominent mythos. But why is one comic so influential in this way... because its AWESOME!!! For the most part, superheroes remain unchecked, and even after events like Civil War, superhumans can still basically due whatever they want. Watchmen shows how heroes would actually act in the real world, meaning they would all be a bunch of murderous, impotent, aging buffons. I also liked that being superhuman was not a requirement of the characters in the book. There's an odd bit of comfort in the realism in dystopian society Watchmen operates in.

who watches the superheros

Reading JKeeley's post I was prompted to post the following:
When asked "Who watches the watchmen?" Jkeeley replied, "We should not have to depend on superheros to survive."  This idea is very similar to the idea in Civil War because the issue the government has with the heros is that they do believe they need them but that they have to much power.  So while in the watchmen someone is trying to get rid of the Superheros, in Civil War this is not the case, because here the government is simply trying to lessen their power and have them under their control.  This idea of who watches the heros is interesting, because as Civil War points out, no one does and thus they should be feared because they are all-powerful.

Re: Wonder Woman and Body Issues

Wonder Woman as Brad stated earlier has always been drawn as a beautiful woman with a short, somewhat revealing outfit.  However what he failed to mention were Wonder Woman's proportions.  In reality the earlier Wonder Woman would not be able to stand up without falling over, her waist was so tiny and her chest so large that if anyone so much as touched her she would have fallen over.  However we all know as comic book readers that comic book characters are not always realistic.  This however can prove problematic for young girls reading Wonder Woman comics.  While the WW comics are now a bit more realistic, they  and other forms of entertainment such as Vogue, still portray the ideal skinny woman with a perfect body as what is normal. In reality about 5 percent of women worldwide actually have the figure of a model, which means that more than 5 billion people do not.  Yet all these forms of media portray these ideals, an insane amount of comics show skinny characters and in doing…

Dr. Manhattan

As I discussed in Class I believe Dr. Manhattan's responsibility is to protect laura, but after they break up he feels he does not have that responsibility to her or the human race.  Laura goes to Mars to bring back Manhattan but he states she was the only thing he cared about and that he is not responsible for the human race.  He says he is responsible for protecting what is special and that the things on Mars are special and need protection.  However with a bit of chatting Dr. Manhattan realizes that humans are special because they are the result of one sperm and egg connecting successfully.  Dr. Manhattan is a bit fickle in my opinion, because he is the most powerful living creature he has no way to relate things or reason in a way anyone else understands, or even which he understands.  I think Dr. Manhattan was a very confused individual who should have been in therapy.

The face on the cover of Watchman

This is a bit random, but last night I had a dream in which everywhere I went I saw a big yellow smilie face, and the only conclusion I could come to was that it had to do with the cover of the watchman.  What exactly did that face symbolize?  I know that the comedian wore it and that it appeared on a ledge outside on a terrace, but what did it actually mean?  I had the theory that it might be like a face on a clock, but seeing as there is no clock in the smilie face itself, I then jumped to the conclusion that it might have symbolized being watched.  That there is always someone watching you.  I am still not sure what I believe it to mean, but those were just some ideas I had while reading the comic.

Civil War

THE PART OF THE STORY THAT SHOCKED ME was when spiderman voluntarily took his mask of in public exposing his secret identity that he had worked so long to hide.  In doing so however, he endangered his family because in recognizing the superhero's face, one could note his alliances, relatives, and associates, find them and injure them.  Any superhero who came out faced this problem, and yet the government was forcing them to give up the one true protection they had.  That really bothered me.  I did not understand why they could not just work for the government with only government officials knowing their identification as opposed to the entire public.

The trigger for this war was an interesting occurrence, about how nitro killed a bunch of children when he was being pursued by a reality television crew of superheros.  This idea had MTV written all over it. It was like a bad real world.  I did think it was quiet brilliant however for a reality television show to appear in a comic, it…

copyrights

I think the idea of copyrighting makes sense. Personally if I ever come up with an idea or product I am definitely going to make sure it is copy righted, I would definitely not want someone to someone to steal my idea as their own.  Copyrighting is a very good idea in most cases, while in others it is kind of pointless. As discussed in class characters like Hercules or other mythological characters are all commonly used as characters and yet companies copyright their character as if the origins of it were their idea in the first place, when in fact they were not.  On the other hand this version of it was their creation, so while i do not think they should be able to copyright the name I do believe they should be able to copyright the product they have created.

Astro City vs Watchmen

Both Watchmen and Astro City were very interesting reads as they are not like other comic books. These books both introduced concepts and did things differently from comics of their respective times and they have a revered place in the comic book canon. In my opinion, Watchmen far surpasses Astro City in terms of writing, ingenuity and cultural relevance.
In Watchmen, the focus was on the characters and their development as human individuals and heroes. Characters such as Rorschach and Nite Owl are examined psychological and we follow their progression up until the exciting conclusion. Real world issues are used giving Watchmen an extreme social significance in a time when threats to the health of the world were very real. Astro city seems to focus all of its energy on the atmosphere and the city, which is a very interesting approach, but the characters seem silly and lacking substance. The perspective changes often, from superhero to bystander to evil villain. While interesting…

Copyright Laws!

Although Professor S is the anti-thesis of copyright laws in terms of comic books and Dr. Chambliss is its biggest advocate, I am some where in between. I do feel it is necessary to have copyright laws to keep the validity of major comic book characters, but I also do believe leniency in this media is necessary to properly improve the character. For example the character of Wonder Woman has gone through enormous change throughout her history, and these changes reflected the movement of the time. But if DC would allow this character to be developed my other producers, I think she could have been more reflective of the time. Her character would have been more appropriate in her role, instead of what a male bureaucracy believes she should represent. But on the other hand, I am a great fan of Batman and I feel his character's darkness is not only necessary for his cause and would not like a happier and more light-hearted Batman would not be fun!

I Love Copyright Laws!

To be candid, I am for Copyright laws. They are their to make sure no one takes the story of say, Batman, and him turn into something he is not. I would hate to see the Cape Crusader do anything else besides fighting evil doers in Gotham city. Maybe the occasional cross-over story would be cool with Superman or other DC heroes, but I have a very specific way I want to see my Batman.

That's not to say I can't see someone else taking Batman and making him do something more interesting, or making him better the way he is now, but at the same time if someone desperately wants to create these stories then they should go work at DC. True, sometimes people aren't so lucky to get opportunities to work for DC, but hey, that's life. I do believe we are all here for a reason and if that reason is something other than what we think, that is alright. People have this problem that if they believe they have a certain purpose in life and they end up not fulfilling that purpose, then th…

Astro City

To go from reading Watchmen to AstroCity is quite a change.Watchmen revolves around a nation that is in conflict with another nation, and heroes that see the flaws of humanity and wish to save human kind. Astro city, on the other hand, revolves around a city compared to an entire country, and while Watchmen continuously degrades the standpoint of the United States, the characters of AstroCity always praise the city itself. Furthermore, Watchmen is based on conflict and mystery.The U.S. is in conflict with the USSR, the citizens of the U.S. are in conflict with their beliefs and viewpoints about the U.S., the USSR, and the war, and the “heroes” of Watchmen are in conflict with each other as some characters have dismantled over the years while others have strong feelings of resentment towards each other. Astro City, on the other hand, is not only faced with conflicts as such, but this comic shows its characters intentions more openly and thus takes away the mystery that Watchmen portray…

Copyright

Copyright. During class on Monday we discussed a few reasons why a writer may want to copyright the work he or she has created. Some of the reasons we mentioned included copyrighting in order to claim a creation as someone’s own. This could be done for various reasons: the creator takes pride in his or her work and wants to claim it as solely his or hers, he or she wants to deter other people from stealing his or her idea for the creation, and lastly, copyrighting was created in order for writers (or other designers of works) to make lots of money from the creation. In most cases, I would agree that people want to copyright in order to make money, but one should not forget that it costs money to register a copyright for a creation. Thus, the profit of that piece of work must exceed its cost in order for the creator to make any money. Next, I also believe that someone may want to copyright his or her work in order to avoid other people from stealing his ideas. However, one thing to con…

What copyright law means to me.

When it comes to copyright laws, I actually don't have such a hard time figuring out how I feel about the issue... I think that if you've created a character or some other unique idea, that creation should belong to you for your entire life and, upon your death, should be passed to whomever you have seen fit to continue its legacy properly. All of the talk about whether someone else could "do better" with your character is irrelevant because there's just as much chance that they'll do poorly and potentially ruin everything that you have built. That's a bit radical, I know, but it is a possibility. If you have a unique idea for an existing character, I do believe that you should be heard. If your idea is accepted, that's great; if not, what's the use in getting upset about it? Like it or not, the creator knows better than you because it's his or her own character and, whether they actually have a better vision than you or not, they've earne…

Watchmen...

"And if you gaze long intothe abyss, the abyss gazes into you..."

So yeah, that's pretty much how I felt when I was reading the Watchmen. There was so much there psychologically, so much below the surface, that it was hard to just read without really having to stop and think. The amount of text was a little challenging at first but once the story got going, I found it hard to stop reading. Oddly enough though, it was somewhat difficult to relate to the characters. One would think that this more "realistic" portrayal of humans would make more sympathetic protagonists, but that's just not the case. Each character is disconnected in some way from the rest of society and while we get a good understanding why, it's a little disturbing to think that that kind of person could be and probably is walking around with us every day. Despite all of this, I liked Rorschach a lot (or as much as I could given what kind of "hero" he is). I appreciate the way th…

Dissecting Chapter 12

The Watchmen has a lot of suggestive and thematic imagery. I would like to use this blog to dissect the first pages of the last chapter in the Watchmen. When first opening these few pages you are bombarded by the colors and death. Millions of people are dead and bloodied in every angle and space on the page. One's natural reaction is shock but this, for some and myself, quickly became interest. I began to study the pages for clues that may have been revealed or were continuiously shown throughout the novel. On the very first page we see the clock, which hasnt been a stranger to us. We have seen this clock counting down to what we now difinitively know to be the end of days. Death and destruction were its ultimate ending. Something also to note is the very familiar droplet of blood that we see on the cover of the book. It looks to be pointing upwards as if to say "time is up" and now you're all dead. Eyes have always been an important note in this novel and the eye co…

Norman Rockwell

If you have any free time as you wrap up the semester, I suggest visiting the Norman Rockwell exhibition at the Orlando Museum of Art. This collection gives another view of 20th-century popular culture, and Rockwell's visual storytelling at times includes "juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence" that one might consider comics.

The exhibition runs through May 26, and college student admission is $9.00.

Alexander the Great

I thought it was interesting in Chapter XI page 8 of Watchmen that Adrian Veidt claimed Alexander the Great as his hero. A notable historic figure who had the same hero was Napoleon Bonaparte. It also seems notable that Alexander the Great’s hero was Achilles.

Related to Adrian Veidt’s proclamation of his hero, he mentions that he admired how Alexander the Great had conquered the civilized world and managed to rule “without barbarism!” On the surface it seems Adrian Veidt is trying to say he wants to create a world without war- a civilized, peaceful world. It seems that his vision is to bring “an age of illumination to a benighted world” (benighted meaning dark and unenlightened). It is somewhat ironic, however, if you take the Greek meaning of the term (Alexander the Great was Greek after all). In Greek “barbarian” refers to anyone who is not Greek, who does not speak the Greek language. The way Alexander made the world “non-barbaric” was by spreading the Greek culture and Greek langu…

the role of people within Watchmen.

This week we focused on the different roles of the characters within Watchmen. On Monday we were divided into groups and my group focused on the role of Dr. Manhattan. He was once a human and now a mechanic use of the government. He is a type of parallel, he's without feelings and emotions but yet he isn't numb. He longs for the memories in when he was human. He is dating Lorie, but does he really feel love for her? I think that Dr. Manhattan is a parallel for spies for governments. He represent people who have completely given up their lives to serve the Government but for a very great price. As within Germany with the Nazis these men were chosen or even forced to serve Hitler and they basically gave up their morality and committed very inhumane acts. How could a government force ordinary people to become robots for an unjust cause? That is what I feel Dr. Manhattan represents.

Joe Simon

For those of you who don't have enough to do with Watchmen to finish and the paper & photo essay to work on, today's New York Times has a good article about Joe Simon, who co-created Captain America with Jack Kirby.

Notice that Simon discusses the recent outcome to the Siegel family's lawsuit regarding ownership of Superman; this has bearing on his own case regarding Captain America.

Adrian Veidt

Even though I have not completely finished chapter ten, I was so excited to see that the Minute men had the same hypothesis that I did, being that Adrian Veidt was behind the murders.  My reasoning began when I recalled that earlier in the minute men's career he, Adrian, ditched them and went off on his own.  I have since wondered what his reasoning for doing so was, but after the last few pages, the idea of ultimate power comes to mind.  If Adrian is the leader of a huge corporation and has all of this power and basically his own continent, being probably the only powerful person to live on Antarctica, all that is left standing in his way of doing what he wants are those who might be equally as powerful as him or more so.  The only people that fit into this category of people who might be able to stop him are the minute men or other masked heros.  I further believe that Adrian does not care what he has to do to make money and achieve power.  One letter to him addresses him wantin…

Rorschach is awesome!

This man requires no formal education to know the differences between right and wrong. Rorschach has easily become my favorite character in theWatchmen series. I attribute this to his similarities to DC's Caper Crusader, Batman. Both men operate best when alone, but are also able to perform well working in teams (such as the Minute Men and the Justice League, respectively). Rorschach and Batman tend to lurk within the dark ally ways and use the element of fear to render their enemies helpless. Plus, it is just plain awesome to see both characters beat up cheap punks and delivering tough guy one liners such as, "One-nothing. Your move." Both Walter and Bruce - their alter ego names - also have psychologically damaging experiences growing up, making them vigilantes for justice.

Nearly all of Rorschach's moves are necessary; that also makes him awesome. Nothing about him wastes time or participates in trivial pursuits. If he is not snapping the fingers of a criminal then…

Dr. Manhattan

I would first like it to be known that Dr. Manhattan is an awesome character.  I mean who wouldn't want to be able to be the most powerful creature in the world?  He can win wars single handedly and do other amazing things, too bad he cannot handle relationships.  Due to his accident it seems that Dr. Manhattan is immortal and will live forever, this effect of his transformation is one of the major problems in his relationships.   Dr. Manhattan also has trouble relating emotionally to others because none of them have experienced what he has, including his lady loves.  While Dr. Manhattan never ages, those around him grow old and if that is not bad enough he is now being accused of causing cancer to develop in those he has had intimate or close contact with. Giving those you love to be around and love, cancer a deadly illness would be among the worst things one could possibly be cursed with.  I always thought AIDS or HIV would suck to have but that only effects you not ones you are…

A count down by the Doomsday Clock

The Watchmen has been an interesting and intriguing graphic novel. I find this form of writing and illustration much more entertaining than comic books because of the intensity and realism that occurs. It is also something that I would much rather read because of the horror and craziness that exists in the story. Things are much easier to understand when you are able to related actions to normal people and to things that could happen in the real world. Bad things happen to normal good people and sad events occur. We see the pregnant woman being shot as an event that is tragic and uneasy for the reader but things like that happen and I think that events like this aren't normally shown in comic books.
Another interesting thing about this graphic novel is the feelings of being watched and how it reflects the feeling in the 1980s. We aren't out of the Cold War yet, in fact tensions are getting higher and people are feeling the anxiety and stress that conflicts and fears of destruct…

Dr. Manhattan

First off i'd like to start off by saying Dr. Manhattan is an awesome character.  Personally I would hate to be him because he never ages, and therefore I would assume can live forever.  Due to this factor, he has lost both woman he loves and is lonely.  As if that was not bad enough, there is the theory that whoever he is intimate with or around for long periods of time will contract cancer.  Hearing this he disappeared to Arizona and the escapes to Mars.  I feel so sorry for him, he is so lonely, and has no one to turn to or anyone that understands him because he is the only one like him.  Not only is he blue, which is bad enough, he actually cannot connect to anyone emotionally.  One of my psychologist says one of our basic needs is the need for socialization, but considering that no one truly understands him, this is almost just as bad.  Th On a different note, if they know how he became this ultimate powerful person, why would the government not take lost soles or people who w…

Watchmen

This comic is unlike anything I have ever read, it is twisted, vulgar, complicated and if it were a movie, it would definitely be rated R.  This comic book was definitely not created for children readers as it contains repetitive mentions of rape, cursing, alcohol and violent murders of people and animals.  I was shocked when i first began reading this comic book, that it portrays it's superhero's as sometimes bad.  The comedian tried to Rape Sally Jupiter and actually shot a woman who was pregnant with his child.  This man however is being referred to a superhero?  This would never be someone I would give that honorable title to, and honestly I think he was a pig and am glad he was pushed out a window.  His character was however not the only one who was deeply troubled and insanely violent, as Roschach is very comparable.  Roschach murdered a man's guard dogs for no reason, he grossly cut their heads in half and then murdered the owner by burning him to death.  Reading ab…

Xmen

When reading X men I was actually kind of bored, I found the storyline to be much less interesting then I expected it to be.  The only story I believed to be somewhat interesting was where they all went to save a fellow X men from the depths of hell which was actually a fake hell in which they had to enter every level of the inferno.  I appreciated the twist of Dante's story within a comic book; having read Dante's Inferno I was able to make connections between differences and similarities between the original story and the X men's version of what the inferno was.  
The reason for Nightcrawler being brought into hell was not found out until the end of the story, which in my opinion made for a nice twist.  I was not expecting the reason for him being brought to hell being that he kept his promise to his stepbrother and killed him as he said he would.  His Stepmother did not know about this promise and thus hated Nightcrawler and wanted him to pay for the suffering she experi…

Watchmen and Alan Moore

Watchmen was an incredible comic, and what makes it most incredible to me is how well Alan Moore captured the American spirit. As a British writer, Moore was able to realistically capture the American affliction of the 80’s better than other gigantic comics events of the time such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Days of Future Past. Maybe, this can be attributed to a certain detachment in Moore. As a Brit, he was able to look upon America without an undying love for the nation but also capture the culture without being overly critical.
I found Watchmen superior to Crisis on Infinite Earths or Days of Future Past in part because of the great writing. His narrative structure come from specific places such as Rorschach’s journal or Hollis Mason's memoir. These techniques engage the reader on a personal and somewhat intellectual level where as many comics have a random box of text setting the scene coming from a mystery source.
Also, Moore’s initial transcript of the first panels …

Reading Watchmen sure ain't like reading Batman

After reading the first three chapters of the Watchmen I can see why it would be listed as Time Magazine's 100 Best Novels. The story from the first panel is dark and gloomy and begins with the death of an important character, Edward Blake, the Comedian. This comic is unlike any we have read so far. Sure, Batman has been dark and gloomy at times, but he always had Robin there to brighten the panels. Perhaps the people working on Batman are not working as hard as Alan Moore to make sure a crucial social commentary on America in the late 1980s is made. I guess I need to read more, but I am having trouble understanding just what that commentary is supposed to be. I understand so far that the question the story poses a lot is, "Who watches the Watchmen?" meaning we should not have to depend on superheroes to survive. But is it worth it?

It is valid point to not depend on super beings for help because peoples self-reliance would be lost. However, from a comic book fan's po…

STAR WARS!

I hope it is not just me, but I find Reagan's "Star Wars" defense plan to be quite idiotic. It is extremely difficult for me to believe that a mass group of people seriously thought that the government was going to place some sort of missile mechanism in space that would shoot bombs out of the air. Yet people did! And this leads me to question our intelligence as a human race. We are so quick and eager to accept anything told to us by some "authority," and so rarely do we appear to hold the same analytical nature that distinguished us from the rest of the primate order. I believe the moment we allowed it to become common law to merely accept and not question is the moment we may have failed as a species. We freely allowed the Secret Invasion to occur and the Skrulls presence in our world is our own punishment. Long live the Skrull Empire!!!

The Change in the 1980s

The ultra conservatism movement began in the 1970's in which I considered the ultra-white movement. There was a new sense of family values, the belief that abortion is wrong, the protection of un-born children against the rights of women. Then there was the implementation of affirmative action in which was a way to level the e work and education field for women and minorities. Then there was our relations with the USSR in which we tried to keep the relations has civil as we could especially with their development of bombs. The Iran hostage crisis in which the US supported the overthrow of f the rightful owner of Iran. It was our position at the time to support any ideology that countered communism. Even if it meant putting troops within in their country to cause a revolution and although these people were bad people we are just trying to counter communism. Referred to as the failure of detente. For liberal idoelogy there was a problem with supporting revolutions in other cou…

Skrull Protest and more...

Class was very interesting this week but I think I learned so much more from the protest that I attended on sat afternoon.
When i first arrived i noticed the men and women dressed up like various charcters. Some were superheros, others just wearing fun t-shirts, some dressed in what seem like military gear and more covered from head to toe in alien make-up. I have never attended something like this before and it was interesting to see some of these guys reactions when i can walking up in a sun dress. First I would like to note that i was one of 4 girls in the shop and there were probably over fifty people. I got more stares than I could have imagined. It was very intertaining. Also i found that everyone in the store seemed to want to help me with something or show me something interesting. After I lost in the gift give-away, I spoke with the head of the shop, who was extremely nice and enthusiastic. He actually opened my eyes to another side of comics which i hadnt really found any int…

Finally! We covered the X-Men... but where was Gambit?

While Days of Future Past was a fantastic read, my one critique would be the absence of my favorite X-Man Remy LeBeau, better known as Gambit. This is also my complaint about the X-Men films by 20th Century Fox. I don't mean to rant, but how does a child whose mutant ability is to change television channels make it on screen and not our favorite French, kinetic energy manipulating, thief Gambit not? (Yes, I did see his name on the computer in X2).

But I digress... I enjoyed Days of Future Past because I really love the Sentinels. Part of it has to do with growing up watching the X-Men cartoon and seeing moments like Cyclops blasting a Sentinel's head off or Wolverine using his claws to climb up the robot's back to then hack away at its neck. Reading about the Sentinels and their mission to control mutants and humans into concentration camps really spoke to me. At one point in the X-Men story, after the Sentinels are starting to take over, Trask says to Master Mold...

"Y…

I still don't really know how to think of Wonder Woman...

As we were reading about the evolution of Wonder Woman as a comic book heroine (and occasionally a feminist icon), I couldn't help but think that there was just no happy medium to be found for her as a representation of what a woman could and should be. When she was at her strongest, Amazonian powers and all, she was criticized for her secretarial alter-ego, who was obviously fitting a very prominent gender role of the time. And then, when she was "revamped" in the early 1970s to meet the demands of the growing feminist movement, she was stripped of her powers and what made her most unique, and suddenly she was just an ordinary woman trying to live her life... But then, to state the obvious, Wonder Woman ISN'T ordinary, and that wasn't the intention when she was created, so how can a change that is absolutely the polar opposite of her origin be in keeping with the original message that Marston had in mind? It just doesn't make a lot of sense. I think that the…