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, video games, 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.
About the Author
Charles Hatfield is associate professor of English at California State University, Northridge, and is author or coeditor of many books, including Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature and Hand of Fire: The Comic Art of Jack Kirby, both published by University Press of Mississippi. Jeet Heer, a columnist for the National Post (Canada), is coeditor of several books, including A Comics Studies Reader and Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium, both published by University Press of Mississippi. His work has also been published in Slate, the Boston Globe, the Guardian, the Comics Journal and many other venues. Kent Worcester is professor of political science at Marymount Manhattan College. His books include Peter Kuper: Conversations, Peter Bagge: Conversations, A Comics Studies Reader (coedited with Jeet Heer), and Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium (coedited with Jeet Heer), all published by University Press of Mississippi.