Posted by: Doc Comics | November 21, 2018

R.I.P. Stan Lee

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The passing of Stan Lee, legendary creative face of Marvel Comics and co-creator of iconic superheroes known world-wide, marks the end of an era. Few names are as synonymous with comic book superheroes, and “Stan the Man” enthusiastically embraced his role as the defacto voice for comic books with unmatched zeal and EXCELSIOR as the Godfather of what became the Marvel Comics media empire. As fans and the industry mourn his passing, Lee’s legacy is being rightly memorialized with tributes, heart-felt eulogies, and also some necessary criticism of his penchant for self-aggrandizing myth-making.

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Posted by: Doc Comics | September 19, 2018

The Best Graphic Novels of All Time

I was asked to contribute to this list of must-read Graphic Novels, which was a difficult task and I’m a bit crestfallen that ALL STAR SUPERMAN didn’t make the cut. Still, some great recommendations here that I’ve added to my own pull list!!

“The Best Graphic Novels of All Time” list from The Reading Lists.

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The task of narrowing my top 3 was always gonna be a tough task. There are a lot of criteria that could be put into play: the most groundbreaking, original comics? Most influential? Or perhaps the most significant in terms of cultural impact or influence upon the comics medium? And since they were specifically focusing on “graphic novels,” then I took that to mean specifically-created direct-to-market one-shot ‘adult’ stories rather than compilations of comic book storylines into “trade paperback” form. Thus, I threaded the needle on these criteria and made my case.

What do YOU think, superscholars? What would be your Top 3 Graphic Novels of All Time?

Posted by: Doc Comics | April 25, 2018

Superhero Anti-Myths?

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In a pretty interesting article at Pacific Standard Magazine, Noah Berlatsky takes on the notion that superhero stories are mythology. “Unlike myths, superhero sagas suggest that justice is actually attainable,” Berlatsky asserts. Furthermore, aside from some superficial similarities, these Nietzschean superhero narratives actually run counter to a lot of the usual socio-cultural functions of Myth.

“The whole premise of the superhero is that the Gods are dead and irrelevant, and that humans can, and should, expand to fill the space left in the cosmos by that divine absence. … In comparison to selfish, philandering, all-powerful jerks like Ego or Zeus, superheroes start to look like a pretty good ethical model, Superheroes wouldn’t just accept that Iphigenia has to be sacrificed for no reason. Instead they’d feel empowered to confront injustice and evil and to make the world a better place. Give Job a super-suit and let him grab Satan by the horns. If myths say that we should be powerless before injustice, then, yes, let’s do away with them and make some anti-myths about getting empowered instead.”

The downside of these Superhero Anti-Myths, however, is that these narratives of every[hu]man underdogs work “only if you believe the myth that your fellow humans are kinder and wiser than the gods.” So are these superhero stories perhaps too utopian in their presumptions about human nature? Maybe TOO democratic, or alternately, inherently fascistic and dangerously delusional when wed to American populist politics?

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Posted by: Doc Comics | March 26, 2018

Do We Need Superheroes? Yes or No

Co-Sign.

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Here is a take on the answer YES


In his book, Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and A Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human, Grant Morrison talks about how, when he  was a child growing up near a nuclear sub base in Scotland, he was afraid of the nuclear bomb. Then, as now, he notes that like anything else, before it was “real” the nuclear bomb was originally an idea. This was and is the same thing with Superman. He states that

It’s not that I needed Superman to be “real,” I just needed him to be more real than the Idea of the Bomb that ravaged my dreams. [He was] the human imagination, such a perfectly designed emblem of our highest, kindest, wisest, toughest selves, that my Idea of the Bomb had no defense against him… (xv)

Morrison speaks of a truth here that I…

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Posted by: Doc Comics | February 9, 2018

Reimagining Black Power with Black Panther

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The excitement over Marvel Studio’s Black Panther movie has hit a fever pitch ahead of its opening weekend, and this moment has been a long time coming. The King of Wakanda generated a lot of buzz with his central role in the Captain America: Civil War film, stoked by notable comic book runs from Christopher Priest or Reginald Hudlin and award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, but in today’s #BlackLivesMatter moment of reckoning with a resurgent White Supremacist Confederacy this comics icon’s Afrofuturism has increased significance.  Indeed, the Politics of Being a Black Superhero are on screen for all to deliberate.

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TIME magazine ran an essay contextualizing the significance of the BLACK PANTHER film for today’s culture… and its representative power for audiences.

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Posted by: Doc Comics | January 25, 2018

Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics” turns 25

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It’s hard to understate the impact that Scott McCloud has had on comics scholarship. His 1993 book Understanding Comics revolutionized how the public and many fans perceive the comics medium, igniting debate and introspection over the power of comics. His books and concise explanations have become must-read touchstones for most Comics Studies courses because of his elegance in conveying the invisible art of much visual communication. McCloud’s 2005 TEDtalk “The Visual Magic of Comics” is a wonderful primer.

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You can listen to a fascinating interview with the 99%invisible podcast, wherein Scott returns to contemplate the legacy of his ideas: “Powerful visual communication both speaks and is silent.”

Posted by: Doc Comics | June 20, 2017

Nerd Nite with comics legend Scott Williams!!

I had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing comic book innovator Scott Williams, one of the forces behind IMAGE Comics and currently high-profile talent on DC Comics projects. Here you can learn about his secret origins developing the signature look of Image Comics, working with comic book royalty like Jim Lee or Neal Adams, and a lot of crazy behind-the-panels stories from his epic career.

Big thanks to More Fun Comics and Pop Nerd TV for making video of this magical evening possible!

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Posted by: Doc Comics | June 5, 2017

Superhero Myths in the Age of Trump

There is little doubt that Superhero films are the dominant Hollywood genre, a zeitgeist that shows few signs of slowing. But what can we learn from these films about current political divisions and American ideological struggles? Quite a bit, it turns out.

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DC Comics “Trinity” usher in a darker American exceptionalism.

  1. American Superheroes are fighting with each other as much as they are battling any supervillain… and its an Apocalyptic war of values.  Not surprising to those following the 2016 American Presidential election, there is a genuine divide over the guiding principles of our national character. Indeed, this internal struggle has been central to comic book storylines for the better part of two decades since even before 9/11. In many ways, the American return to superhero myths born from wartime struggles of an emerging world superpower is also a quest to negotiate tensions between conflicting American values. Some have gone so far as to claim that “America’s need for superheroes has led to the rise of Donald Trump.” Even HBO comedian Bill Maher seems to agree. American Superheroes, in fact, were explicitly designed to wrestle with ethical dilemmas from conflicting social values… and whether the ends can ever justify the means when unintended consequences are all but inevitable.
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To some the superhero we need, for others the supervillain we do not deserve…

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Posted by: Doc Comics | May 8, 2017

The Wonder Woman Paradox

GREAT essay reflecting upon “The Wonder Woman Paradox”… You can delve into some of my own past thoughts on this recurring problem of representation here.

Posted by: Doc Comics | May 8, 2017

UNT Monstrous Women in Comics Conference

Monstrous Women in Comics: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Women in Comics and Graphic Novels

May 25–27 2017, University of North Texas, Denton 
REGISTER NOW!

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A two-and-a-half day interdisciplinary academic conference which seeks to examine monstrous women in comics and graphic novels.

Thursday, May 25, 2017: Welcome Drinks Reception and Pop-Up Art Exhibit, from 5:30pm–7:30pm, featuring art from the comic Deer Woman produced by Native Realities Press. Open to the public. Location: Eagle Exhibit Hall, Environmental Sciences Building, 1704 W. Mullberry, Denton, TX 76201.

Friday, May 26, 2017: 9am Welcome and conference open; panel presentations from 9:30–12:15 and from 1:30–5:15pm. Keynote speech at 5:30pm: Dr. Carol Tilley, “A Regressive Formula of Perversity: Fredric Wertham and the Monstrous Women of Comics.” Open to all registered attendees. Location: Willis 140, Willis Library, 1506 Highland St. Denton, TX 76203.

Saturday, May 27, 2017: 9:30am Welcome; panel presentations from 9:45–12:15 and from 1:30–4:15pm. Conference close. Open to all registered attendees. Location: Willis 140, Willis Library, 1506 Highland St. Denton, TX 76203.

Full conference program available at http://monstrouswomen.blogspot.com

Registration is required for all but the Pop-Up Art Exhibit.

UNT Students may register for free; all others may register for $5 plus a $1.27 service charge through the site linked above.

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