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Does class affect our perception of the comic image? If so, how?

If I was asked what I thought about comics before I started taking this class, my answer would have been pretty stereotypical and generic. I used to think that comics were litterally just corny jokes and stories put into the back of the newspaper for kids and to fill up space. For most average people who are uneducated about comics, thats probably similiar to what their answer would be too. Never would I have thought that comic books and strips could have so much meaning. They represent, in a way, american culture and life by portraying important issues, events, and culture fads that are part of american history.

Back in middle school, I remember we always had a part of the day that we would do free reading. The rules were pretty simple, you could read whatever you wanted, as long as it wasn't an uneducational magazine or it contained comics. Now, as a kid, thats all you ever wanted to read but was always told it wasn't allowed or it wasn't useful. I am going to go out on a limb and say that my middle school teachers were probably wrong about the comic book part. Comics are so much more than what is on the surface. From the panel size to the character expressions to the transitions, there is a whole side of comics that not many people see.

Not only can you learn from the comic page itself, but the underlying messages in comics over time is really what changed my perception of them. The example of superman helps to explain how comics are a representation of american history, in this case an example of the american dream comes into full effect. The character of superman, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, is as good of an example as they come. The old "rags to riches" saying is a great description, as superman is born Clark Kent in the rural midwest as a good 'ole farm boy and ends up being the poster boy for american justice and well being.

The superman story is almost a comic form version of one of the great american dream stories of all time, that of course is the one about Babe Ruth. We see the some relation with Ruth as we did with Superman, an orphaned child growing up in the northeast in some tough conditions and turns out to be the hero of every american boy and essentially the greatest baseball player to ever live.

The fact that you could relate superman to Babe Ruth is enough in itself to say that this class has completely changed my perception of comics. This class has already taught me that comics are almost history books for America, and that when you take a little time to understand what the comics are saying, you can actually get a lot of knowledge out of them


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