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Literature > Comics and Graphic Novels

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The Joker Cover

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The Joker

A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime

Edited by Robert Moses Peaslee and Robert G. Weiner

Along with Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman, the Joker stands out as one of the most recognizable comics characters in popular culture. While there has been a great deal of scholarly attention on superheroes, very little has been done to understand supervillains. This is the first academic work to provide a comprehensive study of this villain, illustrating why the Joker appears so relevant to audiences today.

Batman’s foe has cropped up in thousands of comics, numerous animated series, and three major blockbuster feature films since 1966. Actually, the Joker debuted in DC comics Batman 1 (1940) as the typical gangster, but the character evolved steadily into one of the most ominous in the history of sequential art. Batman and the Joker almost seemed to define each other as opposites, hero and nemesis, in a kind of psychological duality. Scholars from a wide array of disciplines look at the Joker through the lens of feature films, video games, comics, politics, magic and mysticism, psychology, animation, television, performance studies, and philosophy. As the first volume that examines the Joker as complex cultural and cross-media phenomenon, this collection adds to our understanding of the role comic book and cinematic villains play in the world and the ways various media affect their interpretation. Connecting the Clown Prince of Crime to bodies of thought as divergent as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche, contributors demonstrate the frightening ways in which we get the monsters we need.

Komiks Cover

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Komiks

Comic Art in Russia

José Alaniz explores the problematic publication history of komiks--an art form much-maligned as "bourgeois" mass diversion before, during, and after the collapse of the USSR--with an emphasis on the last twenty years. Using archival research, interviews with major artists and publishers, and close readings of several works, Komiks: Comic Art in Russia provides heretofore unavailable access to the country's rich--but unknown--comics heritage. The study examines the dizzying experimental comics of the late Czarist and early revolutionary era, caricature from the satirical journal Krokodil, and the postwar series Petia Ryzhik (the "Russian Tintin"). Detailed case studies include the Perestroika-era KOM studio, the first devoted to comics in the Soviet Union; post-Soviet comics in contemporary art; autobiography and the work of Nikolai Maslov; and women's comics by such artists as Lena Uzhinova, Namida, and Re-I. Alaniz examines such issues as anti-Americanism, censorship, the rise of consumerism, globalization (e.g., in Russian manga), the impact of the internet, and the hard-won establishment of a comics subculture in Russia. Komiks have often borne the brunt of ideological change--thriving in summers of relative freedom, freezing in hard winters of official disdain. This volume covers the art form's origins in religious icon-making and book illustration, and later the immensely popular lubok or woodblock print. Alaniz reveals comics' vilification and marginalization under the Communists, the art form's economic struggles, and its eventual internet "migration" in the post-Soviet era. This book shows that Russian comics, as with the people who made them, never had a "normal life."

 Cover
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Mechademia

Vol. 1 (2006) through current issue

Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga and the Fan Arts. Mechademia’s subject area extends from manga and anime to game design, fashion, graphics, packaging, and toy industries, as well as a broad range of fan practices related to popular culture in Japan. We are interested in how the academic and fan communities can provide new possibilities for critical thinking and popular writing. Mechademia appears annually, published by University of Minnesota Press.

Multicultural Comics Cover

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Multicultural Comics

From Zap to Blue Beetle

Edited by Frederick Luis Aldama

Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle is the first comprehensive look at comic books by and about race and ethnicity. The thirteen essays tease out for the general reader the nuances of how such multicultural comics skillfully combine visual and verbal elements to tell richly compelling stories that gravitate around issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality within and outside the U.S. comic book industry. Among the explorations of mainstream and independent comic books are discussions of the work of Adrian Tomine, Grant Morrison, and Jessica Abel as well as Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s The Tomb of Dracula; Native American Anishinaabe-related comics; mixed-media forms such as Kerry James Marshall’s comic-book/community performance; DJ Spooky’s visual remix of classic film; the role of comics in India; and race in the early Underground Comix movement. The collection includes a “one-stop shop” for multicultural comic book resources, such as archives, websites, and scholarly books. Each of the essays shows in a systematic, clear, and precise way how multicultural comic books work in and of themselves and also how they are interconnected with a worldwide tradition of comic-book storytelling.

My Life with Charlie Brown Cover

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My Life with Charlie Brown

While best known as the creator of Peanuts Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000) was also a thoughtful and precise prose writer who knew how to explain his craft in clear and engaging ways. My Life with Charlie Brown brings together his major prose writings, many published here for the first time.Schulz's autobiographical articles, book introductions, magazine pieces, lectures, and commentary elucidate his life and his art, and clarify themes of modern life, philosophy, and religion that are interwoven into his beloved, groundbreaking comic strip. Edited and with an introduction by comics scholar M. Thomas Inge, this volume will serve as the touchstone for Schulz's thoughts and convictions and as a wide-ranging, unique autobiography in the absence of a traditional, extended memoir Inge and the Schulz estate have chosen a number of illustrations to include. With the approval and cooperation of the Schulz family, Inge draws on the cartoonist's entire archives, papers, and correspondence to allow Schulz full voice to speak his mind. The project includes his comics criticism, his introductions to Peanuts volumes, his essays about philanthropy, his commentary on Christianity, his newspaper articles about the creation of his characters, and more. My Life with Charlie Brown will reveal new dimensions of this legendary cartoonist

Narrative Structure in Comics Cover

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Narrative Structure in Comics

Making Sense of Fragments

by Barbara Postema

In Narrative Structure in Comics: Making Sense of Fragments, Barbara Postema seeks to explain how comics communicate and create meaning, with an emphasis on two aspects of comics. She first examines the pictorial quality of comics, which receives more emphasis than verbal/textual elements. Her second focus is upon the storytelling and narrative qualities of comics, as well as the literary explorations they provide. The “narrative structure” refers to the potential of images, the story telling capacities of panels, and the sequence of panels, in addition to the more traditional narratological concepts. Overall, the author presents a credible rationale for the way in which comics structure their narratives. At every level of communication, comics rely on gaps or absences to create meaning and guide the reader to a meaningful experience. RIT Press is pleased to announce Narrative Structure in Comics: Making Sense of Fragments as the first book published in its Comics Monograph Series. Take a detailed look at the narrative qualities of beloved comics in ways that will educate and excite the reader.

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The Origins of Comics

From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay

Thierry Smolderen

In The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay, Thierry Smolderen presents a cultural landscape whose narrative differs in many ways from those presented by other historians of the comic strip. Rather than beginning his inquiry with the popularly accepted "sequential art" definition of the comic strip, Smolderen instead wishes to engage with the historical dimensions that inform that definition. His goal is to understand the processes that led to the twentieth-century comic strip, the highly recognizable species of picture stories that he sees crystallizing around 1900 in the United States.

Featuring close readings of the picture stories, caricatures, and humoristic illustrations of William Hogarth, Rodolphe Töpffer, Gustave Doré, and their many contemporaries, Smolderen establishes how these artists were immersed in a very old visual culture in which images--satirical images in particular--were deciphered in a way that was often described as hieroglyphical. Across eight chapters, he acutely points out how the effect of the printing press and the mass advent of audiovisual technologies (photography, audio recording, and cinema) at the end of the nineteenth century led to a new twentieth-century visual culture. In tracing this evolution, Smolderen distinguishes himself from other comics historians by following a methodology that explains the present state of the form of comics on the basis of its history, rather than presenting the history of the form on the basis of its present state. This study remaps the history of this influential art form.

The Rise of the American Comics Artist Cover

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The Rise of the American Comics Artist

Creators and Contexts

Starting in the mid-1980s, a talented set of comics artists changed the American comic-book industry forever by introducing adult sensibilities and aesthetic considerations into popular genres such as superhero comics and the newspaper strip. Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen (1987) revolutionized the former genre in particular. During this same period, underground and alternative genres began to garner critical acclaim and media attention beyond comics-specific outlets, as best represented by Art Spiegelman's Maus Publishers began to collect, bind, and market comics as "graphic novels," and these appeared in mainstream bookstores and in magazine reviews.The Rise of the American Comics Artist: Creators and Contexts brings together new scholarship surveying the production, distribution and reception of American comics from this pivotal decade to the present. The collection specifically explores the figure of the comics creator--either as writer, as artist, or as writer and artist--in contemporary U.S. comics, using creators as focal points to evaluate changes to the industry, its aesthetics, and its critical reception. The book also includes essays on landmark creators such as Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, and Chris Ware, as well as insightful interviews with Jeff Smith, Jim Woodring and Scott McCloud As comics have reached new audiences, through different material and electronic forms, the public's broad perception of what comics are has changed. The Rise of the American Comics Artist surveys the ways in which the figure of the creator has been at the heart of these evolutions

Serial Fu Manchu Cover

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Serial Fu Manchu

The Chinese Supervillain and the Spread of Yellow Peril Ideology

The evil mastermind—and master of disguise—Fu Manchu has long threatened to take over the world. In the past century, his dastardly plans have driven serialized novels, comic books, films, and TV. Yet this sinister Oriental character represents more than an invincible criminal in pop culture; Fu Manchu became the embodiment of the Yellow Peril.
 
Serial Fu Manchu provides a savvy cultural, historical, and media-based analysis that shows how Fu Manchu’s irrepressibility gives shape to—and reinforces—the persistent Yellow Peril myth. Ruth Mayer argues that seriality is not merely a commercial strategy but essential to the spread of European and American fears of Asian expansion. 
 
Tracing Fu Manchu through transnational serials in varied media from 1913 to the 1970s, Mayer shows how the icon evolved. She pays particular attention to the figure’s literary foundations, the impact of media changes on his dissemination, and his legacy.

In the series Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Võ

Super Black Cover

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Super Black

American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes

By Adilifu Nama

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