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Faculty Essay


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"When considering the ontological status of the comic book, it was once natural to think of superheroes battling all-powerful villains, Archie and Jughead battling wits with Principal Weatherbee, or Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig battling Elmer J. Fudd in the forest. In short, the assumption was that comic books were kids‘ stuff, and not to be taken seriously by world-weary adults. Much has changed in the last 20 or so years, with the rise of the so-called graphic novel, but many of these – including such seminal works as Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons‘ Watchmen, and Ed Kramer and Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman – still deal with superheroes, albeit in complex and ethically shaded ways. While it is the case that the comic book field has primarily dwelt in the world of fantasy, there has always been a strong regard for realism as well, detailing the everyday adventures of ordinary individuals. Examples of this can be found in the works of Will Eisner, Milton Caniff, and Frank King. This realistic strain is perhaps best exemplified today by Harvey Pekar‘s magnum opus, American Splendor."

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