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Latest Topics

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Webcomics: Quantity vs. Quality

The internet provides a platform for indie artists and writers with limited resources to get their work out into the world. Webcomics were born of this freedom. Many popular webcomics choose to deliver their stories in a micro-serialized manner, often releasing only a single page of panels at a time. Additionally, many webcomics have no clear end in sight, but rather are stories that run indefinitely. Explore the strengths and weaknesses of webcomics as we see them today: the common formats and delivery approaches, the trends, how it relates to the quality of the stories being told, and what the future holds for creators and fans alike.

  • This sounds like it would be an examination that can be deeply investing. I would examine the webcomics Marvel & DC have been putting out as an example. – BMartin43 2 months ago
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  • Some of the positives: Webcomic authors and artists alike being able to work at their own pace. Atomic Robo is a series that began as a published comic book, but made the switch to the webcomic format, now releasing pages in the way you described.Some of the negatives: Familiar setups/situations. For webcomics that focused on video games, it was common to have 2 males who would get into wild antics compared along with 1 female friend they have who was often stuck with the "straight man" and/or "voice of reason" role. – Christopher 2 months ago
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  • I feel there are also a few webcomics out there that make a unique usage of their own digital medium, like Romantically Apocalyptic and some of the Emily Carroll horror comics. On the other hand, there are comics that literally post a page per update, roughly standard sized, and then run a kickstarter to print the collected volumes. Not that I don't love both, but I think it's exciting to see people using the fact that they're publishing digitally a bit more creatively. – sk8knight 3 weeks ago
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Superheroes and Mental Illness: Possibilities and Responsibilities

Considering the relevance of mental instabilities for a noticeable number of famous superheroes, that are not only loved because of this part of their character, but who also integrate it into their appearance (e.g. Rorschach), it would be interesting to elaborate on the influence and the significance of highlighting such a topic for mainstream audiences. The apparent depression Batman appears to suffer from, as well as childhood trauma from his parents being killed, make for a lot of dramatic effects in the narration. How does this influence awareness of mental illness and how does it highlight this issue for a larger audience? There are several other examples like Captain America’s PTSD, Hulk’s anger management, basically all of the Watchmen’s personality disorders, etc. It would also be interesting to look into movie adaptions, which tend to reach a larger audience and expand on the reception of such characters, as well as discussing the responsibility of the production with clarifying misinformation about mental illness.

  • I think there is a responsibility of naming and presenting positive images of mental illness in the superhero genre. Many superheroes do exhibit symptoms and signs of mental illness, but the average reader might not make the connection because I think a lot of these mental illnesses are passed off as being "character flaws" to make heroes seem more tragic (Batman and his depressive symptoms being the result of his parents' deaths. Now tragedy can cause depression but its not the only factor). You also don't often see these heroes coping in healthy ways (cough cough batman sometimes). So there's a ton of issues to be explored between people even acknowledging officially that certain characters do have mental illness and whether these characters are supporting stereotypes of their mental illness, especially that the mentally ill are violent and dangerous (this applies to super villains as well). – LauraKincaid 3 months ago
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  • I think this is super important! I really wish they would show Steve Rogers dealing with his PTSD. I thought they did a pretty good job with Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, and I'd love to see more of it! Not only mental illness, but just disabilities in general. I was super disappointed when Hawkeye wasn't deaf, or at least not portrayed as such, in the Marvel movies. I really think they could do a lot with that! – Jenae 3 months ago
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  • MOON KNIGHT/CRAZY JANE Positive examples? Maybe?Also, 'Lazarus fever' may have some thematic relevance in Batman stories though I haven't really thought about it much.Maybe the entire 'hero complex' that necessitates superheroism is a mental illness, I mean, you have to be a little crazy to dress up as a bat. Is this what the surface-level illnesses represent? Maybe incorporate addiction (Roy Harper)?Love this topic! – m-cubed 3 months ago
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  • The Sentry is another character worth looking at in a piece like this. – Richard Marcil 3 months ago
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  • Maybe look to the new 52 Batman, he is more emotionally disturbed than any incarnation in my reading. – TheSwampThing 3 months ago
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  • Iron Man is an alcoholic, it's been portrayed many times in comics - I don't know if that's a good example, but it's def there. And, Hawkeye (which was mentioned) in the comics is deaf as well, and it is mentioned several times! Harley Quinn would be a good addition and Joker in some instances as well. – scole 3 months ago
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  • Jessica Jones has PTSD as a result of rape, which could also be addressed in this article. – vaidyadoc 2 months ago
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Published

The Social Stigma of Adult Comic Book Reading

Examine the negative association between comic book readers and adults. Is it still seen as childish? Have comic books been viewed any differently in the past decade? How can this social stigma change, and does it even need to change?

  • This is an interesting topic. I took a class on comic books, and funnily enough, there were books written about why comic books are not only unsuitable for children, but undermining society because the content is too lurid--basically claims similar to contemporary arguments against video games. It's intriguing to see how the stigma has shifted, and comics are still a misunderstood medium. A book to research for whoever takes this is Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, which argues that comic books cause young people to cause more crimes. Such claims within range from saying female nudity is only there to obscure gay relationships (a homophobic argument) to stating Superman is a fascist (highly questionable). – Emily Deibler 11 months ago
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  • I bumped into someone who said he doesn't read comic books, he reads graphic novels. And he doesn't watch cartoons, he watches Anime. I thought this was an effort to avoid being classified as being interested in childish things. – DrTestani 11 months ago
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  • Agreed. Graphic novels are hugs and a good example is Maus by Art Speigelman. – Munjeera 11 months ago
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  • I think more and more of mainstream society is losing the image of comic-book reading as a childish thing, no doubt due to the humongous pull of comic- book movies. I think we've made huge progress in the last ten years. – J.P. Shiel 11 months ago
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  • In defense of the adult reader, I'd discuss the fact that lots of comic books are not even written for children and delve into deeper, darker content matter that might not be addressed in any other format.Someone else mentioned this book above, but The Washington Post said that Art Spiegelman's "Maus" was "impossible to achieve in any medium but comics." They are a storytelling tool like any other.Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's "Sex Criminals" for instance, is a lighter, and yet equally adult comic not for the eyes of children. – RjWignall 10 months ago
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  • I think perhaps the writer of this topic should discuss the imaginary boundary between comics and graphic novels many people try creating to distance themselves from the "childish" content of comics, as DrTestani mentions above. It might serve as a good foundation for one's arguments/explanations. The writer could even discuss the emergence of underground comix around the 1960s/70s - comics exclusively targeting and specifically created with an adult, mature audience in mind. It certainly distorts the idea that comics are made only for a younger audience. The discussion of the changing tone in superhero comics might also be useful. One can see this in The Dark Knight and Watchmen, which deliberately subvert a lot of the expected content of superheroes in comics - in order to attract an older, mature audience. – karebear7 3 months ago
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4

Black Panther

Back-story on the Black Panther that we did not get in Civil War and that we did not see from the Black Panther himself. How he became Black Panther is more depth – because the movie did not go into much of that aspect because of the movie coming out in a few years. This could be the evolution of Black Panther and how he got to be where and who he is, if it differs between what was stated in Civil War.

  • I would read that. However, there is a movie coming, so whoever wants to pick this topic should consider that. At the very least, address it. – ismael676 11 months ago
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  • I do think the choice to leave a lot of his backstory from Civil War was so they have things to show in his standalone film. It would really just be a re-hash of his old comics – darcvader 10 months ago
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  • The Black Panther comic series was canceled for quite a while after the rise of Malcom X and the Black Panthers, due to worries that people may associate the two. Should look into that more, and talk about that.If looking up racially problematic characters, anyone interested should also look up Marvel's Captain Nazi, or the fact that Superman fought Hitler in the comics. – Truthsayer87 10 months ago
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  • Whoever takes this should look at it more thematically, rather than just doing a straight history (which can easily be found on Comic Vine, Wikipedia, etc.). Rather than who he is, I'd encourage the author to look at what he stands for and represents in society. What are enduring aspects of his characterization (not just character), as he is passed from writer to writer? What do his continued associates (Storm, etc.) suggest about him? – m-cubed 4 months ago
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The Advent of Independent Comics: Why Writers Are Starting To Right Their Own Stories

It is no secret that Marvel and DC are the top comic book publishers in the industry. But in recent years, many famous writers and artists like Jonathan Hickman and Rick Remender have left the publishers and have started to create comics for Image Comics or other independent publishers. The results are critically acclaimed comic book series that have become very popular among the comic book community. It would be nice to explore the reasons why comic book writers and artists are leaving Marvel or DC to create their own comics with independent publishers like Image Comics. An examination could even be done into what Image Comics and other independent publishers offer writers and artists that Marvel or DC does not.

  • This topic mentions Image a lot, but what about webcomics? It seems that writers and artists who publish online would have a lot more control over their creation. However, in many cases, it seems unlikely that webcomics would be as profitable as physical ones. – sk8knight 3 weeks ago
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Mentorship and Parenting in Batman Comics

In comics, mentor figures are critical to the development of super heroes. Batman is by far one of the most famous characters in comics and his origins involves the death of his parents. Despite being considered the "Dark Knight" and usually being considered a isolated character, the Batman mythos involves a large amount of mentoring and parenting within its long history. In many comics such as Scott Snyders new 52 Batman and Batman Earth One, Alfred moves beyond a servant figure to acts as a supportive and mentoring parental figure for Bruce Wayne as he struggles with his role as Batman. This relationship remains a critical and long lasting relationship for Batman. Additionally, throughout his history, Batman has mentored a variety of side kicks including the robins (Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, Damian Wayne, and Carrie Kelly), Batgirls, and others, acting as a mentor figure, and sometimes a parental figure (in the case of Damian, Bruce is his father). I think this is a rich area for analysis and that it would valuable to examine the parental and mentor relationships within Batman comics, there success and failures, as well as how they impact our hero.

  • This seems like it would be a good topic. I would explore each Robin's backstory and how Batman was able to be a mentor to them aside from making them his sidekicks. – BMartin43 4 months ago
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The Little World of Liz Climo: The Aesthetics of Adorableness

Discuss the career and works of Simpsons-animator, children’s author, and web-comic artist, Liz Climo ((link) . What factors may have led to her success? What is it about her simple, one to two panel comics that makes them so cute and heartwarming? Are there aesthetic standards within the often-neglected form of one/few-panel comics by which her work may be critically evaluated? Where is her place within the long tradition of this form, among artists such as Hank Ketcham, Bil Keane, Gary Larson, Dan Piraro, and countless others? In what ways has her online presence contributed to her work and distribution, as well as the contemporary cultural understanding that comics in the 21st century can exist in spaces beyond the "funny papers"?

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    The Symbolism of Superman

    As a comic book character, few have garnered the notoriety that Superman has. This topic calls for an investigation into the character’s history and an investigation into the symbols the character has come to represent over the years. Questions for investigation may include: How has Superman changed over the decades, and why did these changes occur? What type of ideology does Superman best represent?