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Literature > Comics and Graphic Novels

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Super Black Cover

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Super Black

American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes

By Adilifu Nama

The Superhero Reader Cover

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The Superhero Reader

Charles Hatfield

Despite their commercial appeal and cross-media reach, superheroes are only recently starting to attract sustained scholarly attention. This groundbreaking collection brings together essays and book excerpts by major writers on comics and popular culture.

While superhero comics are a distinct and sometimes disdained branch of comics creation, they are integral to the development of the North American comic book and the history of the medium. For the past half-century they have also been the one overwhelmingly dominant market genre. The sheer volume of superhero comics that have been published over the years is staggering. Major superhero universes constitute one of the most expansive storytelling canvases ever fashioned. Moreover, characters inhabiting these fictional universes are immensely influential, having achieved iconic recognition around the globe. Their images and adventures have shaped many other media, such as film, videogames, and even prose fiction.

The primary aim of this reader is twofold: first, to collect in a single volume a sampling of the most sophisticated commentary on superheroes, and second, to bring into sharper focus the ways in which superheroes connect with larger social, cultural, literary, aesthetic, and historical themes that are of interest to a great many readers both in the academy and beyond.

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Superheroes in Crisis

Adjusting to Social Change in the 1960s and 1970s

by Jeffrey K. Johnson

As the founding fathers of the superhero comic books, Superman and Batman have defined a genre of American mythology from the mid-twentieth century to the present. The author describes how the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight dealt with their midlife crises brought on by the cultural and social changes of the 1960s and 1970s. Johnson describes how the superheroes’ problems and adaptations mirror much of American societal changes during that time. RIT Press is pleased to announce Superheroes in Crisis as the second book published in its Comics Studies Monograph Series. The series editor is Dr. Gary Hoppenstand, Professor of English at Michigan State University.

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Viva la historieta

Mexican Comics, NAFTA, and the Politics of Globalization

Bruce Campbell

¡Viva la historieta! critically examines the participation of Mexican comic books in the continuing debate over the character and consequences of globalization in Mexico. The focus of the book is on graphic narratives produced by and for Mexicans in the period following the 1994 implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an economic accord that institutionalized the free-market vision of relationships among the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Eight chapters cover a broad range of contemporary Mexican comics, including works of propaganda, romance and adventure, graphic novels, a corporate "brand" series, didactic single-issue books, and a superhero parody series. Each chapter offers an examination of the ways in which specific comics or comic book series represent Mexico's national identity, the U.S.'s influence, and globalization's effects on technology and economics since the passage of NAFTA.

Through careful attention to how recent Mexican comics portray a changing nation, author Bruce Campbell reveals a contentious range of perspectives on the problems and promises of globalization. At the same time, Campbell argues that the contrasting views of globalization that circulate widely in Mexican historietas reflect a still unsettled relationship between Mexico and its superpower neighbor.

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Will Eisner

Conversations

M. Thomas Inge

Will Eisner's innovations in the comics, especially the comic book and the graphic novel, as well as his devotion to comics analysis, make him one of comics' first true auteurs and the cartoonist so revered and influential that cartooning's highest honor is named after him. His newspaper feature The Spirit (1940-1952) introduced the now-common splash page to the comic book, as well as dramatic angles and lighting effects that were influenced by, and influenced in turn, the conventions of film noir. Even in his tales of crime fighting, Eisner's writing focused on everyday details of city life and on contemporary social issues. In 1976, he premiered A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories, a collection of realist cartoon stories that paved the way for the modern "graphic novel." His 1985 book, Comics and Sequential Art, was among the first sustained analyses and overviews of the comics form, articulating theories of the art's grammar and structure. Eisner's studio nurtured such comics legends as Jules Feiffer, Wally Wood, Lou Fine, and Jack Cole.

Will Eisner: Conversations, edited by comics scholar M. Thomas Inge, collects the best interviews with Eisner (1917-2005) from 1965 to 2004. Taken together, the interviews cover the breadth of Eisner's career with in-depth information about his creation of The Spirit and other well-known comic book characters, his devotion to the educational uses of the comics medium, and his contributions to the development of the graphic novel.

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Your Brain on Latino Comics

From Gus Arriola to Los Bros Hernandez

By Frederick Luis Aldama

Though the field of comic book studies has burgeoned in recent years, Latino characters and creators have received little attention. Putting the spotlight on this vibrant segment, Your Brain on Latino Comics illuminates the world of superheroes Firebird, Vibe, and the new Blue Beetle while also examining the effects on readers who are challenged to envision such worlds. Exploring mainstream companies such as Marvel and DC as well as rising stars from other segments of the industry, Frederick Aldama provides a new reading of race, ethnicity, and the relatively new storytelling medium of comics themselves. Overview chapters cover the evolution of Latino influences in comics, innovations, and representations of women, demonstrating Latino transcendence of many mainstream techniques. The author then probes the rich and complex ways in which such artists affect the cognitive and emotional responses of readers as they imagine past, present, and future worlds. Twenty-one interviews with Latino comic book and comic strip authors and artists, including Laura Molina, Frank Espinosa, and Rafael Navarro, complete the study, yielding captivating commentary on the current state of the trade, cultural perceptions, and the intentions of creative individuals who shape their readers in powerful ways.

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