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Comic Arts Collection

Check out some of the new books in the field of comics studies that we've added to the collection in the past few months!

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The Library’s Comic Arts Collection includes scholarly books that critically examine the medium. Below, you’ll find research about the political nature of comics and the numerous ways in which identity, diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-fascism are explored in the comic arts.

Politics in the gutters

Politics in the gutters : American politicians and elections in comic book media

Christina M. Knopf.
Comic Arts PN6714 .K58 2021

"From the moment Captain America punched Hitler in the jaw, comic books have always been political, and whether it is Marvel's chairman Ike Perlmutter making a campaign contribution to Donald Trump in 2016 or Marvel's character Howard the Duck running for president during America's bicentennial in 1976, the politics of comics have overlapped with the politics of campaigns and governance. Pop culture opens avenues for people to declare their participation in a collective project and helps them to shape their understandings of civic responsibility, leadership, communal history, and present concerns. Politics in the Gutters: American Politicians and Elections in Comic Book Media opens with an examination of campaign comic books used by the likes of Herbert Hoover and Harry S. Truman, follows the rise of political counterculture comix of the 1960s, and continues on to the graphic novel version of the 9/11 Report and the cottage industry of Sarah Palin comics. It ends with a consideration of comparisons to Donald Trump as a supervillain and a look at comics connections to the pandemic and protests that marked the 2020 election year. More than just escapist entertainment, comics offer a popular yet complicated vision of the American political tableau. Politics in the Gutters considers the political myths, moments, and mimeses, in comic books-from nonfiction to science fiction, superhero to supernatural, serious to satirical, golden age to present day-to consider how they represent, re-present, underpin, and/or undermine ideas and ideals about American electoral politics"-- Provided by publisher.

Pulp empire : the secret history of comic book imperialism

Pulp empire : the secret history of comic book imperialism

Paul S. Hirsch.
Course Reserve - 7 Days PN6725 .H57 2021

"Paul Hirsch's revelatory book opens the archives to show the complex relationships between comic books and American foreign relations in the mid-twentieth century. Scourged and repressed on the one hand, yet co-opted and deployed as propaganda on the other, violent, sexist comic books were both vital expressions of American freedom and upsetting depictions of the American id. Hirsch draws on previously classified material and newly available personal records to weave together the perspectives of government officials, comic-book publishers and creators, and people in other countries who found themselves on the receiving end of American culture"-- Provided by publisher.

Comics and the body : drawing, reading, and vulnerability

Comics and the body : drawing, reading, and vulnerability

Eszter Szép.
Comic Arts PN6714 .S98 2020

"Looking at works by Lynda Barry, Ken Dahl, Katie Green, Miriam Katin, and Joe Sacco, presents a new way to see how our bodies read and show up in comics. Emphasizes the discursive, performative, and vulnerable nature of the body"-- Provided by publisher.

Is Superman circumcised?

Is Superman circumcised? : the complete Jewish history of the world's greatest hero

Roy Schwartz.
Comic Arts PN6728.S9 S45 2021

"Superman is the original superhero, an American icon, and arguably the most famous character in the world--and he's Jewish! Introduced in June 1938, the Man of Steel was created by two Jewish teens, Jerry Siegel, the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe, and Joe Shuster, an immigrant. They based their hero's origin story on Moses, his strength on Samson, his mission on the golem, and his nebbish secret identity on themselves. They made him a refugee fleeing catastrophe on the eve of World War II and sent him to tear Nazi tanks apart nearly two years before the US joined the war. In the following decades, Superman's mostly Jewish writers, artists, and editors continued to borrow Jewish motifs for their stories, basing Krypton's past on Genesis and Exodus, its society on Jewish culture, the trial of Lex Luthor on Adolf Eichmann's, and a future holiday celebrating Superman on Passover. A fascinating journey through comic book lore, American history, and Jewish tradition, this book examines the entirety of Superman's career from 1938 to date, and is sure to give readers a newfound appreciation for the Mensch of Steel!"-- Provided by publisher.

It's life as I see it

It's life as I see it : Black cartoonists in Chicago, 1940-1980

Essay by Charles Johnson ; afterword by Ronald Wimberly ; compiled and edited by Dan Nadel ; cover designed by Kerry James Marshall.
Comic Arts NC1427.C5 I87 2021

"Between the 1940s and 1980s, Chicago's Black press--from The Chicago Defender to the Negro Digest to self-published pamphlets--was home to some of the best cartoonists in America. Kept out of the pages of white-owned newspapers, Black cartoonists found space to address the joys, the horrors, and the everyday realities of Black life in America. From Jay Jackson's anti-racist time travel adventure serial Bungleton Green, to Morrie Turner's radical mixed-race strip Dinky Fellas, to the Afrofuturist comics of Yaoundé Olu and Turtel Onli, to National Book Award-winning novelist Charles Johnson's blistering and deeply funny gag cartoons, this is work that has for far too long been excluded and overlooked. Also featuring the work of Tom Floyd, Seitu Hayden, Jackie Ormes, and Grass Green, this anthology accompanies the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's exhibition Chicago Comics: 1960 to Now selected and edited by Dan Nadel, and is an essential addition to the history of American comics"-- Provided by publisher.

Mixed-race superheroes

Mixed-race superheroes

Edited by Sika A. Dagbovie-Mullins and Eric L. Berlatsky.
Comic Arts PN6714 .M59 2021

"Mixed-Race Superheroes examines representations of racial mixedness, literal, metaphorical, and symbolic, that take on, challenge, or complicate the stereotypes and romanticization of mixed-race identities and the idea of the superhero. Racial mixedness has long been associated with weakness, abnormality, impurity, transgression, shame, and various pathologies on the one hand, while also ironically connoting genetic superiority, exceptional beauty/physicality and unique potential. In contemporary discussions, this romanticization of racial mixedness is linked to the idea of the mixed-race individual as a kind of savior figure who has unique abilities to free us from racial tensions and divisions. While racial mixedness is now sometimes viewed as a superpower in itself, the origins of superhero stories are much more substantively rooted in the opposed rhetoric and practice of racial purity and white supremacy. In short, racial mixedness and superheroes are both historically and currently linked"-- Provided by publisher.

Beyond Maus

Beyond Maus : the legacy of Holocaust comics

Ole Frahm, Hans-Joachim Hahn, Markus Streb (eds.).
Comic Arts PN56.H55 B49 2021

"Beyond MAUS. The Legacy of Holocaust Comics collects a wide scope of contributions that deepen our understanding of comics representing the Holocaust. Unknown examples, recent developments and controversial arguments are gathered for a new evaluation of the relation between comics and the representation of the Holocaust."-- Back cover.

Good white queers?

Good white queers? : racism and whiteness in queer U.S. comics

Kai Linke.
Comic Arts PN6725 .L56 2021

"How do white queer people portray our own whiteness? Can we, in the stories we tell about ourselves, face the uncomfortable fact that, while queer, we might still be racist? If we cannot, what does that say about us as potential allies in intersectional struggles? A careful analysis of Dykes To Watch Out For and Stuck Rubber Baby by queer comic icons Alison Bechdel and Howard Cruse traces the intersections of queerness and racism in the neglected medium of queer comics, while a close reading of Jaime Cortez's striking graphic novel Sexile/Sexilio offers glimpses of the complexities and difficult truths that lie beyond the limits of where white queer self-representations dare to tread." -- Provided by publisher.

Panthers, Hulks and Ironhearts

Panthers, Hulks and Ironhearts : Marvel, diversity, and the twenty-first-century superhero

Jeffrey A. Brown.
Comic Arts PN6714 .B769 2021

"Marvel is famous for their fantastic superheroes. Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and dozens of other costumed avengers from the Marvel Universe are recognized the world over. In the 21st Century, Marvel has expanded just what it means to be a superhero, and who can wear the tights. Panthers, Hulks & Ironhearts explores the importance of ethnicity in many of Marvel's newest heroes (and a few of their oldest) in the comics, movies, and on television. New characters of color like the Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel, the Latina Ms. America, the Korean-American Hulk and Silk, as well as new takes on old heroes such as the African American versions of Spider-Man, Captain America, and Iron Man, have joined such landmark heroes as Black Panther and Luke Cage to diversify the role of superhero. These "All New, All Different" heroes can defeat super villains, but they can also help explain important cultural concepts like stereotyping, Orientalism, repatriation, whitewashing, and identification"-- Provided by publisher.

All of the marvels

All of the marvels : a journey to the ends of the biggest story ever told

Douglas Wolk.
Comic Arts PN6725 .W65 2021


"The first-ever full reckoning with Marvel Comics' interconnected, half-million-page story, a revelatory guide to the 'epic of epics'--and to the past 60 years of American culture--from a beloved authority on the subject who read all 27,000+ Marvel superhero comics and lived to tell the tale. The superhero comic books that Marvel Comics has published since 1961 are, Douglas Wolk notes, the longest continuous, self-contained work of fiction ever created: over half a million pages to date, and growing. The Marvel story is a gigantic mountain, smack in the middle of contemporary culture. Thousands of writers and artists have contributed to it. Every schoolchild recognizes its protagonists: Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men. 18 of the 100 highest-grossing movies of all time are directly based on parts of it. And not even the people telling the story have read the whole thing--nobody's supposed to. So, of course, that's what Wolk did: he read all 27,000 comics that make up the Marvel universe thus far, from Alpha Flight to Omega the Unknown. And then he made sense of it: seeing into the ever-expanding story, in its parts and as a coherent whole, and seeing through it, as a prism through which to view the landscape of American culture. In Wolk's hands, the mammoth Marvel narrative becomes a funhouse-mirror history of the past 60 years, from the atomic night-terrors of the Cold War to the technocracy and political division of the present day--a boisterous, tragicomic, magnificently filigreed epic about power and ethics, set in a world transformed by wonders. As a work of cultural exegesis, this is sneakily significant, even a landmark; it's also ludicrously fun. Looking over close to sixty years of Marvel's comics, Wolk sees fascinating patterns--the rise and fall of particular cultural aspirations, and of the storytelling modes that conveyed them. He observes the Marvel story's progressive visions and its painful stereotypes, its patches of woeful hackwork and stretches of luminous creativity, and the way they all feed into a potent cosmology that echoes our deepest hopes and fears. This is a huge treat for Marvel fans, but it's also a revelation for readers who don't know Doctor Strange from Doctor Doom. Here, truly, are all of the marvels"-- Provided by publisher.