Archive for March 29th, 2013

March 29, 2013

Captain Marvel

shazam by alex ross

Captain Marvel, also known as ‘Shazam,’ is a fictional comic book superhero, originally published by Fawcett Comics and later by DC. Created in 1939 by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker, the character first appeared in 1940 in ‘Whiz Comics’ #2. With a premise that taps adolescent fantasy, Captain Marvel is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a youth who works as a radio news reporter and was chosen to be a champion of good by the wizard Shazam.

Whenever Billy speaks the wizard’s name, he is struck by a magic lightning bolt that transforms him into an adult superhero empowered with the abilities of six archetypal, historical figures. Several friends and family members, most notably Marvel Family cohorts Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr., can share Billy’s power and become ‘Marvels’ themselves.

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March 29, 2013

Marvels

Hobgoblin by Alex Ross

Marvels is a four-issue limited series comic book written by Kurt Busiek, painted by Alex Ross and edited by Marcus McLaurin, and published by Marvel Comics in 1994. Set from 1939 to 1974; the series examines the Marvel Universe, the collective setting of most of Marvel’s superhero series, from the perspective of an Everyman character: news photographer Phil Sheldon.

The street-level series portrayed ordinary life in a world full of costumed supermen, with each issue featuring events well known to readers of Marvel comics as well as a variety of minute details and retelling the most famous events in the Marvel universe. Busiek and Ross returned to the ‘everyday life in a superhero universe’ theme in the Homage Comics series ‘Astro City.’

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March 29, 2013

The American Monomyth

reagans raiders

The American Monomyth is a 1977 book by Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence arguing for the existence and cultural importance of an ‘American Monomyth,’ a variation on the classical monomyth (the hero’s journey, a theme found in narratives from around the world) as proposed by Joseph Campbell. The hero ventures from the normal world into a supernatural one, winning a decisive victory there and returning with a ‘boon.’

In contrast, Jewett and Lawrence define the American monomyth as: ‘A community in a harmonious paradise is threatened by evil; normal institutions fail to contend with this threat; a selfless superhero emerges to renounce temptations and carry out the redemptive task; aided by fate, his decisive victory restores the community to its paradisiacal condition; the superhero then recedes into obscurity.’

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March 29, 2013

American Way

The American way of life is an expression that refers to the lifestyle of people living in the United States of America. It is an example of a behavioral modality, developed from the 17th century until today.

It refers to a nationalist ethos that purports to adhere to principles of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ It has some connection to the concept of American exceptionalism and the American Dream.

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March 29, 2013

How to Read Donald Duck

How to Read Donald Duck (‘Para leer al Pato Donald’) is a political analysis by Chilean activists Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, published in 1972. It is a pioneering work on cultural imperialism. Written in the form of essay (or, in the authors’ words, a ‘decolonization manual’), the book is an analysis of mass literature, specifically the Disney comics published for the Latin American market.

It is one of the first social studies of entertainment and the leisure industry from a political-ideological angle, and the book deals extensively with the political role of children’s literature. The book’s thesis is that Disney comics are not only a reflection of the prevailing ideology at the time (capitalism), but that they are also aware of this, and are active agents in spreading the ideology.

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March 29, 2013

Superfolks

Superfolks is a 1977 novel by Robert Mayer, which satirizes the superhero and comic book genres, and was aimed at a more adult audience than those genres typically attracted. Superfolks examines comic book conventions and clichés from a more serious, ‘literary’ perspective.

The novel was influential on many writers of superhero comic books in the 1980s and 1990s, notably Alan Moore and Kurt Busiek. Although the book’s pop culture references clearly date it to the 1970s, its influence on the deconstruction of the superhero genre is still felt through Moore’s ‘Watchmen,’ ‘Marvelman,’ and ‘Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?’

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