Comic books and literature

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left
hey guys, i found this forum while searching for some scans, and obviously noticed that it's really well organized and stuff. Now living in Romania, i didnt have much access to comics, comic books, whatsoever, exept for a bunch that i bought from the states, the hungarian versions (in hungarian of course) of Marvel and DC famous books and some old french and belgian comics. Nontheless, being a comics fan since i was little, and considering the fact that i`m in my final year at college right now (studying foreign languages), i decided to make my final paper out of the history of comics (in general that is, no need for really detailed stuff)

well, this being said, i`m asking you guys for some help if you're willing to. Basically the most important thing would be some argument(s) that comic books belong to literature (even though it's obvious). Also some tips, ideeas how to structure the paper and stuff like that would be well apreciated

well, hope to hear from you soon big grin

inamilist
well, it depends what you mean

comics are literature in the same way that harlequin romances are. They are mass produced for financial gain, rather than being works of art.

There are obvious exceptions, but for the most part, the experimental and expressive side of comics is lost in the niche industry.

What would be interesting would be a comic that penetrates the mainstream as a respected work of art rather than as just an exceptional work from the genre.

Doc Potato
Watchmen's been used on some philosophy courses and the likes... just mumble some stuff about Alan Moore and wave Watchmen around vaguely in the air and you'll get pass no problem...

Howard_Jones
Anything by Alan Moore can be used. Look at V for Vendetta. Also, many comic books integrate themselves into known literature. Spawn is essentially Faust or Daniel Webster. In Uncanny X-Men, the arc She Lies With Angels is a parallel to Romeo and Juliet. Twilight of the Superheroes is about the fall of Gods. Also, you could write a paper itself on how Superheroes are esentially they mythology of today.

inamilist
Originally posted by Howard_Jones
Also, you could write a paper itself on how Superheroes are esentially they mythology of today.

thats debateable

for instance, nobody really believes that Spiderman exists, whereas they did for Zeus

Howard_Jones
Originally posted by inamilist
thats debateable

for instance, nobody really believes that Spiderman exists, whereas they did for Zeus

Well, I know that, but speaking in a figurative sense they are.

inamilist
Originally posted by Howard_Jones
Well, I know that, but speaking in a figurative sense they are.

i guess so

its not an argument I'd try to make, but you could probably sell it

Scoobless
Originally posted by inamilist
thats debateable

for instance, nobody really believes that Spiderman exists, whereas they did for Zeus

That's more theology ... mythology is stuff like the Minotaur and Medusa

Dreampanther
Neil Gaiman is pretty good as well

inamilist
Originally posted by Scoobless
That's more theology ... mythology is stuff like the Minotaur and Medusa

most of the people who fought those monsters were the hercules's and other spawns of dieties

its really hard to believe in a western modern context, but yes, for the most part, these people would have believed in medusa, if only that they believed that she had once lived and was slayed by whichever of those heroes it was

The only differance between mythology and theology really is culture. Humans stopped propogating one set of beliefs for another, so thus truth was redefined. The same thing will clearly happen to the modern religions if they ever fall from preference.

willRules
Originally posted by inamilist
for instance, nobody really believes that Spiderman exists, whereas they did for Zeus

I have just started taking Classical civilisation lessons and my teacher told me that not even that many people at one time believed in Zeus. It wasn't considered a major religion when compared to other religious beliefs across the area at the time, such as Judaism or the like yes

Howard_Jones
Last year I used Apocalypse and his Horsemen for a class over Revalation. Got an A. big grin

inamilist
Originally posted by willRules
I have just started taking Classical civilisation lessons and my teacher told me that not even that many people at one time believed in Zeus. It wasn't considered a major religion when compared to other religious beliefs across the area at the time, such as Judaism or the like yes

wow

so like the people that built the Temple of Zeus didnt believe he was God?

willRules
Originally posted by inamilist
wow

so like the people that built the Temple of Zeus didnt believe he was God?


I'm not entirely sure because I have only just started the subject, but from what I can gather there wasn't really an overwhelming belief in it at one time, or the majority of the population didn't really believe this to be true but did it anyway and just kept to themselves.

But yeah I find it difficult to understand that if many people didn't really believe this then why did they build such grand temples in their honour? I suppose it might be because they didn't really have much alternative smile

But that's just what I was told so don't take my word for it, in fact I would be delighted if you could prove otherwise as I take interest in the subject and have only just started studying it. yes

inamilist
Originally posted by willRules
I'm not entirely sure because I have only just started the subject, but from what I can gather there wasn't really an overwhelming belief in it at one time, or the majority of the population didn't really believe this to be true but did it anyway and just kept to themselves.

But yeah I find it difficult to understand that if many people didn't really believe this then why did they build such grand temples in their honour? I suppose it might be because they didn't really have much alternative smile

But that's just what I was told so don't take my word for it, in fact I would be delighted if you could prove otherwise as I take interest in the subject and have only just started studying it. yes

i love the subject, but really have little knowledge about it

hmmm, you have a good point though. People might have just done as they were told....

willRules
Originally posted by inamilist
i love the subject, but really have little knowledge about it

hmmm, you have a good point though. People might have just done as they were told....

Yes it's quite interesting. In the lessons we are reading Horace's satires and its weird because you have the Greek mythology, the Roman mythology (Which is the greek Gods but with the names changed to what we call our planets) and also Horace keeps referring to the Jewish nation which at the time, the religion rose and fell like a roller coaster, the Bible can confirm this to be true.

And then a few hundred years down the line you get this bloke called Jesus who comes along and turns alot of the religious theories upside and inside out. Before you know it Christianity is persecuted and then a bit later made the official religion by emperor Constantine.


And that's the basics of it as far as I know yes It's rather interesting yes

DigiMark007
There's really only 2 "really good" places to start for making a case that comics are a viable art form, on par with nearly any other medium:

1. Watchmen (Moore)

2. Sandman Series (Gaiman)

...there's others, but those are the big ones.

Howard_Jones
Originally posted by DigiMark007
There's really only 2 "really good" places to start for making a case that comics are a viable art form, on par with nearly any other medium:

1. Watchmen (Moore)

2. Sandman Series (Gaiman)

...there's others, but those are the big ones.

You forgot V for Vendetta because of it's portrayal of Anarchy, and Twilight of the Superheroes on Fallen Gods. big grin

DigiMark007
Originally posted by Howard_Jones
You forgot V for Vendetta because of it's portrayal of Anarchy, and Twilight of the Superheroes on Fallen Gods. big grin

Nah. I agree it's very good, but Watchmen is really his best work, both in critical acclaim and also in my personal opinion.

Howard_Jones
Originally posted by DigiMark007
Nah. I agree it's very good, but Watchmen is really his best work, both in critical acclaim and also in my personal opinion.

No argument there. I'm just saying that because of it's portrayal of Anarchism and symbolism to the general public. One of my sociology teachers during my sophomore year of college called it one of the best literary examples out there.

DigiMark007
Cool. Nice to know it gets literary mention. I did a paper on Watchmen one time too.

And I'll be teaching literature soon as well. I may try to work in comics at some point.

Howard_Jones
Originally posted by DigiMark007
Cool. Nice to know it gets literary mention. I did a paper on Watchmen one time too.

And I'll be teaching literature soon as well. I may try to work in comics at some point.

That's awesome! What level do you teach?

DigiMark007
I don't just yet. But in about a year I'll be in the teaching work force.

My degree certifies me for grades 7-12. So high school, most likely.

Howard_Jones
Sweetness. I used to tutor High School students. Now I sell insurance. I guess you could work in comic books like that with Seniors. Watchmen and V would grab their attention in an instant.

DigiMark007
Yeah. Getting copies for everyone would be a mother (unless I whored out the school's copy room for hours), but I'd totally be interested in doing it, and I'm sure they'd love it.

Howard_Jones
Originally posted by DigiMark007
Yeah. Getting copies for everyone would be a mother (unless I whored out the school's copy room for hours), but I'd totally be interested in doing it, and I'm sure they'd love it.

Use CBR files. big grin




































Just kidding.

inamilist
If you own a copy of the book there are no legal issues with .cbrs

thoough i think that would just shift the problem from getting all the kids copies to getting all the kids computers stick out tongue

left
aight, i`ve been away for a while now, and just now i managed to see all the replies.

Thanx a lot guys, this is very helpful of you ... big grin I`m gonna look up everything you said here and i dont know about. What about some of the major titles from Marvel and DC ? Which ones whould you look into as literature ?

Judging from the complexity/drama of the character i`d say either The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man or Spider-Man. Not to mention Wolverine : Origins , and which i think is very similar to the romantic period in literature, particulary the plot, the development of the characters (especially Rose and Smitty) and of course the ending.

What do you guys think ? Any more ideeas ?

Cheers

Scoobless
Originally posted by DigiMark007
There's really only 2 "really good" places to start for making a case that comics are a viable art form, on par with nearly any other medium:

1. Watchmen (Moore)

2. Sandman Series (Gaiman)

...there's others, but those are the big ones.

Really?

I got Watchmen months ago and have still never been motivated to start reading it.

left
bump

....

any more ideeas ?

DigiMark007
Originally posted by Scoobless
Really?

I got Watchmen months ago and have still never been motivated to start reading it.

I honestly don't like the art much, so I had the same problem for a while. And while it may not have been as "cool" as "V" or Gaiman's stuff, I can read through it, enjoy it, and realize that its a magnificent acheivement from a literary perspective.

inamilist
Originally posted by left
aight, i`ve been away for a while now, and just now i managed to see all the replies.

Thanx a lot guys, this is very helpful of you ... big grin I`m gonna look up everything you said here and i dont know about. What about some of the major titles from Marvel and DC ? Which ones whould you look into as literature ?

Judging from the complexity/drama of the character i`d say either The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man or Spider-Man. Not to mention Wolverine : Origins , and which i think is very similar to the romantic period in literature, particulary the plot, the development of the characters (especially Rose and Smitty) and of course the ending.

What do you guys think ? Any more ideeas ?

Cheers

For mainstream, long term titles, the literary merit will probably come more from looking at the work as separate arcs or look at the individual contributions of separate authors in a different light. There might just be too much conflicting history or conflicting concepts between authors to make it worthwhile as a complete piece of literature. While most of the characters do have some degree of development, I don't necessarily look at that and the character interactions as being the definition of "art".

Most literature is expressive. The romantic period that you talk about has less to do with love stories (even though a lot of the work did revolve around lovers, lots of it also was based on man and nature) and more to do with beauty and human emotion.

The question then must become, what are the comics trying to express. For instance spider-man has the "power and responsibility" motif. This is a very strong literary device, and it allows a dimension for expression of the human condition. I'm sure if you looked through the history of Spider-Man you could find excellent moments that are ripe with artistic merit (Gwen Stacy off the bridge) and many others that deal are more geared to sales.

Actually, that final distinction between "art" and "sales" is completely arbitrary. Art is 110% in the eye of the beholder. If you were able to take something away from the "clone sage" of spider man that allows you to better imagine humanity or the universe, then it is art to you. I personally think it was crap. Neither of us would be right.

"V"
I've read V. and Watchmen, both were great.. But I have never been bothered enough to read Gaiman's run on Sandman. I have every issue of it but I tried to read it once and well:

BORING, imo.

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