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Showing posts from January, 2008

Popular Culture is pretty complex

The article by Raiford Guins and Omayra Zaragoza Cruz is interesting. It breaks down the word culture by examining its origin, uses, and several meanings. Culture is a word I have heard all of my life but I guess I never really have tried to define it. Probably the statement I best agree with was on page 27 where it states that culture, "describes the works and practices of intellectual and especially artistic activity."

Think about that quote for a second... Now think of the word "Google". What comes to mind? The search engine! Google is now apart of human culture (or at least American culture). Google.com is the most popular search engine on the internet. Since it is on the internet, and it so well known, I'm guessing the people behind Google are vastly intelligent (as it turns out the creators were two guys who earned Ph.D. degrees from Standford University. Sounds like they're pretty smart to me.) But look at that quote from the article again... "p…

Eugenics= Nazis

I am somewhat baffled as to the purpose of reading the article “Popular Culture”. Now I have a vague idea as to the history of the words “culture” and “mass”, but why is that important to know? The reading was also complicated and confused by seemingly random and meaningless numbers and letters.
Also, the article “From Pulp Hero to Superhero” was a good overview of what we talked about in class so far. It was also much more interesting than the above mentioned “Popular Culture”. The article brought up the topic of eugenics in the United States, a topic that I have not heard much about. It seems like the subject is probably a taboo. The topic of eugenics as expressed in the article reminded me greatly of the Nazis. The article suggests that the American public was afraid of the degeneration of the white race (as seen in comics like Tarzan) and that people voluntarily set up programs to “promote efforts to civilize urban masses and impart values”. It seems that this fear and set up of …

Hulk Out!

Just a little something you may find interesting.  Here is a complete list of every reason that has ever made Dr. David Banner "Hulk Out".  http://kennethjohnson.us/HulkOutList.html

A new persepective on the SuperFriends

Follow the link below for an amusing/potentially offensive look at much of the cast of the SuperFriends. The articles were written by Seanbaby, a video game reviewer specializing in mocking the worst games ever made.
http://www.seanbaby.com/super.htm

Truth, Justice, and the American Way!

Look- in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... SUPERMAN!!!

Look- in that room! It's a cat! It's a giant lump! It's me... BORED!

I have never quite been able to assess why I dislike Superman so much. He's supposedly the purest, truest American superhero we have. America's very own mythology. And I like America well enough, some might even say I love it. So why do I dislike Superman so much. Maybe it's because he doesn't feel truly American to me. I mean, don't get me wrong- he's all about truth and justice and all. He's an immigrant of sorts, and he definitely falls into the whole perfect body image paradigm. But he's not flawed, and less face it, all Americans are flawed... most time really REALLY flawed. Iron Man's an alcoholic, Spider-Man's a brooding, angsty "I caused the death of my first, possibly true, love" young adult, and the X-men are all mutant 'freaks' (note these are all Marvel comics). …

There is a reason why he's called Superman

Superman is the hero. He was the first, and he is the best. In all of the Super Friends/Justice League franchises, Superman is always the leader. Does anyone see those team lead by Aquaman? No! The Man of Steel is the one leading the way to justice. The last line in the article What Makes Superman So Darned American? concludes by saying, "Now that I put it to my mind, I see that John Wayne never had a chance." Of course John Wayne wouldn't have a chance against fighting Superman (perhaps Bruce Wayne could beat him, but that's a different post).

Anyway, Superman is more American than people realize. American Immigrants can relate to his not-of-this-worldly nature, being from Krypton and all. America was born out of people who immigrated here (may I quote our founding fathers), in the pursuit of happiness. The same article that discusses why Superman is so darned American says Superman's ability to fly, "makes him an exemplar of the American dream." Later,…

Superman

Superman was the first comic I ever read besides "Understanding Comics", and I actually enjoyed it! It was easy to read because of the way they spaced out the boxes with the drawings and words in them and how they ordered them in a left to right manner. Although much of the comic was not realistic and it reminded me of Spiderman (the reporter for a newspaper thing), I kept on reading because i actually wanted to know what happened. I also enjoyed the way that the characters were drawn so realistically. I think I may be able to get used to reading comics and actually enjoying them. I hope that we will continue to read about Superman in this class because even though I'm frustrated with Kent being a wuss when he's not Superman, I would love to see what else happens with his life.

Superman

Although Superman is an immigrant and an orphan, it is not something that is really focused upon. Until the article “What Makes Superman So Darned American”, I had only ever considered his immigrant and orphan status as background information that never had much importance. For me, his second identity as Clark Kent has assimilated so well into American culture that I sometimes forget that he is actually from a different planet. This rapid and thorough assimilation, I suppose, could be a comment on the educational theory of the period it was stressed. Perhaps the “superman” alter ego is also a statement that regardless of how well people seem to have assimilated and become American, they still hold onto the strong cultural traditions and roots of their homeland.

After reading the assigned Superman comic, some of it did not quite make sense. The main part that troubled me was when he went to Washington, DC rather than San Monte as the editor had directed him. What was the motivation of g…

I'm sorry for talking about Batman in a Superman post...

I'm sorry if this is a little more opinion then reflection on the readings (which I did do!)...

Soooo... Superman has never been one of my favorite superheroes. It's not that I have any particular problem with him, I was just always more attracted to heroes like the X-Men and Batman who were strong and brave, but also very human and inherently flawed. Batman is dark and brooding and despite Bruce Wayne's charm and charisma, there's always the undeniable sense of a shadow lurking behind the facade.

Superman, on the other hand, is clean-cut and outstanding in every possible way. Not only does he have powers, but he's the model of what a "good man" should be. Batman does what Superman does, but without any powers and while also dealing with a very daunting and traumatic past. Does this mean that Bruce Wayne can't be a good man too...?

When I think about Superman as Clark Kent, I feel like he's more of an imposter then a savior. I can't help remember…

So American...

“What Makes Superman So Darned American?” contained a very well-put argument.However, it neglects one small detail that is touched on in the other reading, “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow: An Examination of the American Monomyth and the Comic Book Superhero.” Simply put, what it means to be American has changed drastically since Superman’s conception.Where there was once idealism and a greater overall trust in the government, there is now widespread cynicism.It seems that public opinions of good and evil have become much more vague and inconsistent than they were when good American soldiers went overseas to fight the evil Nazis.Now people are unsure of who can be trusted and who cannot, and struggle daily to find the right decisions for themselves.Consider the path of Captain America, as described in the latter reading.His original job was indeed to fight the Nazis, including the iconic Red Skull.However, after experiencing a Watergate-like scandal, the Captain lost faith in…

Understanding comics, Faces

I began reading Understanding comics not knowing what to expect, but as I got into it I found what McCloud had to say to be very amusing.  I especially liked the part where he talked about faces, how a drawing of a face depending on its detail can represent a few, thousands, millions or nearly all people.  I found it interesting when he discussed how we cannot avoid seeing two dots and a line as a face.   I did the activity of having a friend draw squiggles with eyes.  We both saw faces.  I was once told that there is one part of our brains that is devoted to face recognition and this exercise demonstrated our ability to recognize faces immediately.  McCloud goes on to talking about how our face is a mask and how we move the mask without being able to see what it is doing unless we are looking in a mirror.  We perceive ourselves differently than others perceive us.  Yes, of course I knew this but being able to look at his drawings while being told this made for an unusual and exciting…

Understaning Comics 60-215

Upon scanning the title I wasn’t sure what Scott McCloud meant by “The Invisible Art.” I thought it could be referring to the certain underground culture that surrounds comics, but I wasn’t completely sure. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the whole book is in the comic format. I think McCloud did a wonderful job explaining the art behind comics. When you’re reading the Sunday comics you realize that there is art behind it, but not to the depth of deciding on the size of the frame or which thought bubble to use. I’m not surprised that comics aren’t seen as a legitimate form of art. Since it is known to be geared toward children, scholars and the general public dismisses comics as childish and a simple craft. McCloud pointed out so many facts about the way humans perceive themselves and the world we live in. I enjoyed reading the different categories that he compiled to discuss the mechanics of creating a comic. The section on time frame and the evolution of depicting motion was …

Understanding Comics in a Comic Book Nation?

Comic books have the ability to profoundly affect their readers. They can instill a sense of morality or a sense of justice. They can begin to unfold complex circumstances that teach each reader that life is not simple, but it is survivable. Most importantly, they can offer an escape- a reprieve from many of life's difficulties and challenges. Comics offer some companionship and others hope. They are more than just useless tales and scraps of papers; they are literature and they are art. Comics have more meaning in our lives than people ever stop to examine, which is why this class is so great. It offers a real examination on the importance of graphic media, an examination which is long overdue.

The Invisible Art

After reading Understanding Comics and Comic Book Nation, I realize how appropriately the term “invisible art” can be applied to the medium. Obviously, the term can be used for the reason that not many people, especially adults, look at comic books as a legitimate art form. Even though comic books are essentially books full of art, they are dismissed because they are looked at as childish. One of the most intriguing aspects of the invisibility of this art form can be seen on the level of consumption. Since most comics are aimed at youth, they often don’t realize that what they are consuming is a legitimate art form with depth and meaning. As an artist myself, I know that a primary goal when practicing art is to provoke some kind of emotional response or thought in the audience. These comic book artists have the best audience, because young people can be easily influenced and they can be quick to question established truths. Their art is not falling on deaf ears and blind eyes, b…

Understanding Comics Ch. 1-2 & Comic Book Nation Ch.1

To begin with, I really do like the idea of reading a comic about comics. I think it's a great idea and it's very well executed. As I was reading the first two chapters, I was surprised at how many examples there were of art in recent (and ancient, in some cases) history that are variations of "sequential visual art" and thus the foundations of modern comics. I'd never even thought about it before and it was hard to believe how many different kinds there were. I also love all the discussion about how our human brains automatically interpret certain images in a specific way, how we see others constantly but we identify ourselves when we look at cartoons, and how inanimate objects automatically becomes extensions of our bodies. The pyramid of styles was very interesting too as a way to conceptualize and almost graph or "place" a specific art style in comics.

In Comic Book Nation, I enjoyed reading about the evolution of early comics from "funnies"…

Understanding Comics: Chapters 1 & 2

What I found most interesting about Chapters 1 and 2 was the part about how an object such as a car can become an extension of our body and thus our identity. I thought this was a very interesting approach that I had never considered before, but I do not understand how this relates to comics? I did understand how dressing in different clothes can help us transform to a different identity, and how a car we are driving can become our extended identity, but how does the car relate to a transformation of an identity? There was a section in Chapter 2 (pgs. 36 & 37) that I found somewhat contradictory.At first, the author talks about how his face needs to be drawn in simple style in order for the reader to identify himself with that particular character. Then, the author continues to say that people tend to become captivated by a comic when they can identify themselves with the characters. I find this conflicting since many popular comic characters do have faces and yet people still ten…

Hey Kids, Comics!

When I was a kid, the phrase "Hey Kids, Comics" frequently showed up on magazine racks in drugstores and supermarkets; most children read them, and most people considered them to be for children. These days, the audience for comic books is smaller and older, but characters and ideas from comics have continued to spread throughout our culture.

I'm excited to be co-teaching this class. I have long been interested in comic books both as an art form and as historical documents (as well as just being a lot of fun); this course will give us a chance to discuss the comics medium in all of these aspects. If you don't know much about comics, I think you'll learn a lot about their significance in this class; you might even develop an appreciation for them. If you're a comics fan already, prepare to take a more critical look at them as we examine how they both embody and critique the problems and issues of the past century.

Comic Book are American History

Before I know it, I'm sure someone will ask me why a class on comic books. This is the natural question to ask, especially since I and my colleague William Svitavsky are gearing up to teach HIS 235: American Graphic Media. This class is dedicated to studying comic books and what those comics can tell us about U.S. culture in the modern era. While we are both highly skilled intellectuals:), we will still get troubling looks from someone. Nonetheless, the chance to challenge assumptions and create new ways of considering contemporary issue abound studying comics.