The importance of the comic book in U.S. popular culture cannot be denied. By any measure, comics and related media have grown in popularity.  This course is an exploration of the superhero comic book genre from its pulp origins to the multimedia present in the United States.

Seeking to contextualize the superhero comic narrative within the U.S. experience, this course requires  students to consider the underlying symbolism link to the American superhero narrative and deconstruct the meaning of comic art, story, and character.

Dr. Julian Chambliss, Associate Professor of History and Coordinator of the Africa and African-American Program, talks about topics included in White Scripts and Black Supermen, a documentary to be shown at Comic-Con 2014.

Dr. Julian Chambliss, Associate Professor of History and coordinator of the Africa and African-American Studies Program, shares insight into the state of the comic book industry today. 


Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, —comprised not only of films, but also comic books, televisions series and shorts, —has generated considerable fan engagement with its emphasis on socially relevant characters and plots. Beyond considerable box office achievements, the success of Marvel’s movie studios has opened up dialogue on social, economic and political concerns that challenge established values and beliefs. This collection of new essays examines those controversial themes and the ways they represent, construct and distort American culture. Visit the website to find out more.

Ages of Heroes Eras of Men

Ages of Heroes, Eras of Men explores the changing depiction of superheroes from the comic books of the 1930s to the cinematic present. In this anthology, scholars from a variety of disciplines - including history, cultural studies, Latin American studies, film studies, and English - examine the superhero's cultural history in North America with attention to particular stories and to the historical contexts in which those narratives appeared.

Enduring comic book characters from DC and Marvel Comics including Superman, Iron Man, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Avengers are examined, along with lesser-known Canadian, Latino, and African-American superheroes. With a sweep of characters ranging from the Pulp Era to recent cinematic adaptations, and employing a variety of analytical frameworks, this collection offers new insights for scholars, students, and fans of the superhero genre. 

Future Bear

FUTURE BEAR: A collaboration with Rachel Simmons Associate Professor of Art at Rollins College, Future Bear is my exploration of the art and craft of comic writing. While participating in TEDx Orlando in November 2010, Rachel and I discussed the mixed symbolism represented by Future Bear. From my perspective, crafting a narrative for her character has been both instructive and challenging. 

As any fan or scholar of comic books understands, the superhero has a long tradition of environmental commentary linked to the tension between a rural past and an urban future.  This struggle informs superhero comics and those ideas inspire my thinking about Future Bear’s adventure. 

White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in American Comic Books

Through interviews with prominent artists, scholars, and cultural critics along with images from the comic books themselves, this film examines the degree to which early Black superheroes generally adhered to common stereotypes about Black men. From the humorous, to the offensive, early Black superheroes are critically considered. 

Available through California Newsreel.