Monitor 48: New Publications on Comic Books

Monitor is an irregularly published overview of publications from the previous six months that may be of relevance to comics studies scholars. The introductory texts are the respective publishers’. Do you have suggestions or information on new releases that have been overlooked and should be introduced on our website? Please let us know via email: → See previous Monitor posts.

Adventure Comics and Youth Cultures in India

Raminder Kaur and Saif Eqbal
226 pages
ISBN 978-1138358683 (Paperback)
October 2018
Publisher’s website

“This pioneering book presents a history and ethnography of adventure comic books for young people in India with a particular focus on vernacular superheroism. It chronicles popular and youth culture in the subcontinent from the mid-twentieth century to the contemporary era dominated by creative audio-video-digital outlets.
The authors highlight early precedents in adventures set by the avuncular detective Chacha Chaudhary with his ‘faster than a computer brain’, the forays of the film veteran Amitabh Bachchan’s superheroic alter ego called Supremo, the Protectors of Earth and Mankind (P.O.E.M.), along with the exploits of key comic book characters, such as Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv, Parmanu, Doga, Shakti and Chandika. The book considers how pulp literature, western comics, television programmes, technological developments and major space ventures sparked a thirst for extraterrestrial action and how these laid the grounds for vernacular ventures in the Indian superhero comics genre. It contains descriptions, textual and contextual analyses, excerpts of interviews with comic book creators, producers, retailers and distributers, together with the views, dreams and fantasies of young readers of adventure comics. These narratives touch upon special powers, super-intelligence, phenomenal technologies, justice, vengeance, geopolitics, romance, sex and the amazing potentials of masked identities enabled by navigation of the internet.”

The Disappearance of Hong Kong in Comics, Advertising and Graphic Design

Wendy Wong
245 pages
ISBN 978-3-319-92095-5 (Hardcover)
November 2018
Publisher’s website

“This book examines Hong Kong’s struggle against the disappearance of its unique identity under the historical challenges of colonialism, in addition to the more recent reimposition of Chinese authoritarian government control, as reflected in three under-researched forms of visual media: comics, advertising and graphic design. Each section of the book focuses on one of these three forms, and each chapter focuses on one stage of Hong Kong’s changing cultural identity. The articulative position of this book is on studies of visual cultural history and media communication. Its case studies will broaden readers’ own cultural knowledge for a more international understanding. The Disappearance of Hong Kong in Comics, Advertising and Graphic Design advances the development of its three key subjects in terms of identity, communication and cultural politics, aiming to reach a wide range of multidisciplinary readers.”

Superhero Bodies: Identity, Materiality, Transformation

Wendy Haslem, Elizabeth MacFarlane and Sarah Richardson (eds.)
196 pages
ISBN 978-1138389892 (Hardcover)
November 2018
Publisher’s website

“Throughout the history of the genre, the superhero has been characterised primarily by physical transformation and physical difference. Superhero Bodies: Identity, Materiality, Transformation explores the transformation of the superhero body across multiple media forms including comics, film, television, literature and the graphic novel. How does the body of the hero offer new ways to imagine identities?  How does it represent or subvert cultural ideals? How are ideologies of race, gender and disability signified or destabilised in the physicality of the superhero? How are superhero bodies drawn, written and filmed across diverse forms of media and across histories?
This volume collects essays that attend to the physicality of superheroes: the transformative bodies of superheroes, the superhero’s position in urban and natural spaces, the dialectic between the superhero’s physical and metaphysical self, and the superhero body’s relationship with violence. This will be the first collection of scholarly research specifically dedicated to investigating the diversity of superhero bodies, their emergence, their powers, their secrets, their histories and their transformations.”

Comics: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven aus Theorie und Praxis auf ein Stiefkind der Medienpädagogik

Christine Dallmann, Anja Hartung, Alfons Aigner and Kai-Thorsten Buchele (eds.)
280 pages
ISBN 978-3-86736-495-9 (Paperback)
December 2018
Publisher’s website

“Comics standen lange im Verruf, simpler Unterhaltungsstoff zu sein, der nur mehr von der Lektüre anspruchsvoller, ja bildungswertvoller Literatur abzuhalten suche. Bereits die bewahrpädagogische Debatte im frühen 20. Jahrhundert verurteilte Comics als „Schmutz und Schund“ und damit als schädlich für die moralische und geistige Entwicklung von Kindern und Jugendlichen. Wenngleich bewahrpädagogische Positionen sich gegenwärtig eher gegen andere Medien richten, haben sich viele Vorbehalte gegen Comics bis heute gehalten. Zu Unrecht, meint Ralf Vollbrecht, und dem stimmen die Herausgeberinnen und Herausgeber dieses Bandes zu und unternehmen den Versuch einer medienpädagogisch motivierten Annäherung. Dabei werden Bezüge sowohl zum wissenschaftlichen Werk und Wirken von Ralf Vollbrecht als auch zu seinen Comic-Präferenzen hergestellt. Mit diesem durchaus unkonventionellen Ansatz möge der Band hier und da bereichernde Einblicke gewähren, in seiner bebilderten Form auch unterhalten und möglicherweise sogar eine weitere Beschäftigung mit dem Themenfeld Comics aus medienpädagogischer Perspektive anregen.”

Batman and the Multiplicity of Identity: The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero as Cultural Nexus

Jeffrey A. Brown
226 pages
ISBN 978-1138302853 (Hardcover)
December 2018
Publisher’s website

“Concentrating primarily on contemporary depictions of Batman in the comic books, this book analyzes why Batman is so immensely popular right now in America and globally, and how the fictional Dark Knight reveals both new cultural concerns and longstanding beliefs about American values. The organizing premise is that while Batman is perceived as a very clearly defined character, he is open to a wide range of interpretations and depictions in the comics (what Henry Jenkins refers to as “multiplicities”), each of which allows access to different cultural issues. The idea of Batman functions as an anchoring point out of which multiple Batmen, or Batman-like characters, can occupy different positions: Grim Batman, Gay Batman, Female Batman, Black Batman, Cute Batman, and so on. Each iteration opens up a discussion of different cultural issues pertinent to modern society, such as sexuality, ethnicity, feminism and familial relationships.”

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