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FYS: Graphic Storytelling: Historical Perspectives & the Mythology of the American Superhero in the 20th and 21st Century

This research guide supports students in Prof. Frazier's course FYS 100: Graphic Storytelling.

Getting Started with Background Sources

Before getting started with research, it is a good idea to start with some background and context to the issues you are investigating. The sources below will help you get to that information quickly AND they can help you focus your research topic!

Encyclopedias & Reference Sources

The American Superhero: Encyclopedia of Caped Crusaders in History

The American Superhero: Encyclopedia of Caped Crusaders in History covers the history of superheroes and superheroines in America from approximately 1938-2010 in an intentionally inclusive manner. The book features a chronology of important dates in superhero history, five thematic essays covering the overall history of superheroes, and 100 A-Z entries on various superheroes. Complementing the entries are sidebars of important figures or events and a glossary of terms in superhero research. Designed for anyone beginning to research superheroes and superheroines, The American Superhero contains a wide variety of facts, figures, and features about caped crusaders and shows their importance in American history. Further, it collects and verifies information that otherwise would require hours of looking through multiple books and websites to find.

Geek Heroines: an Encyclopedia of Female Heroes in Popular Culture

Geek culture stems from science and technology and so is frequently associated with science fiction. In the beginnings of science fiction, the genre was tied to "magic" and dystopic outcomes; however, as technology turned "geek" into "chic," geek culture extended to include comics, video games, board games, movie, books, and television. Geek culture now revolves around fictional characters about whom people are passionate. Geek Heroines seeks to encourage women and young girls in pursuing their passions by providing them with female role models in the form of diverse heroines within geek culture. Carefully curated to incorporate LGBTQ+ identities as well as racial diversity, the book defines geek culture, explains geek culture's sometimes problematic nature, and provides detailed fiction and nonfiction biographies that highlight women in this area. Entries include writers and directors as well as characters from comic books, science fiction, speculative fiction, television, movies, and video games.

The American Villain: Encyclopedia of Bad Guys in Comics, Film, and Television

Since the 1980s, pop culture has focused on what makes a villain a villain. The Joker, Darth Vader, and Hannibal Lecter have all been placed under the microscope to get to the origins of their villainy. Additionally, such bad guys as Angelus from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows have emphasized the desire for redemption--in even the darkest of villains. Various incarnations of Lucifer/Satan have even gone so far as to explore the very foundations of what we consider "evil." The American Villain: Encyclopedia of Bad Guys in Comics, Film, and Television seeks to collect all of those stories into one comprehensive volume. The volume opens with essays about villains in popular culture, followed by 100 A-Z entries on the most notorious bad guys in film, comics, and more. Sidebars highlight ancillary points of interest, such as authors, creators, and tropes that illuminate the motives of various villains. A glossary of key terms and a bibliography provide students with resources to continue their study of what makes the "baddest" among us so bad.

The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: the 4,000-Year History of the Superhero

How has the concept of the superhero developed over time? How has humanity's idealization of heroes with superhuman powers changed across millennia--and what superhero themes remain constant? Why does the idea of a superhero remain so powerful and relevant in the modern context, when our real-life technological capabilities arguably surpass the imagined superpowers of superheroes of the past? The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger: The 4,000-Year History of the Superhero is the first complete history of superheroes that thoroughly traces the development of superheroes, from their beginning in 2100 B.C.E. with the Epic of Gilgamesh to their fully entrenched status in modern pop culture and the comic book and graphic novel worlds. The book documents how the two modern superhero archetypes--the Costumed Avengers and the superhuman Supermen--can be traced back more than two centuries; turns a critical, evaluative eye upon the post-Superman history of the superhero; and shows how modern superheroes were created and influenced by sources as various as Egyptian poems, biblical heroes, medieval epics, Elizabethan urban legends, Jacobean masques, Gothic novels, dime novels, the Molly Maguires, the Ku Klux Klan, and pulp magazines. This work serves undergraduate or graduate students writing papers, professors or independent scholars, and anyone interested in learning about superheroes.

Comics Through Time: a History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas [4 Volumes]

Comics and graphic novels have recently become big business, serving as the inspiration for blockbuster Hollywood movies such as the Iron Man series of films and the hit television drama The Walking Dead. But comics have been popular throughout the 20th century despite the significant effects of the restrictions of the Comics Code in place from the 1950s through 1970s, which prohibited the depiction of zombies and use of the word "horror," among many other rules. Comics through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas provides students and general readers a one-stop resource for researching topics, genres, works, and artists of comic books, comic strips, and graphic novels. The comprehensive and broad coverage of this set is organized chronologically by volume. Volume 1 covers 1960 and earlier; Volume 2 covers 1960-1980; Volume 3 covers 1980-1995; and Volume 4 covers 1995 to the present. The chronological divisions give readers a sense of the evolution of comics within the larger contexts of American culture and history. The alphabetically arranged entries in each volume address topics such as comics publishing, characters, imprints, genres, themes, titles, artists, writers, and more. While special attention is paid to American comics, the entries also include coverage of British, Japanese, and European comics that have influenced illustrated storytelling of the United States or are of special interest to American readers.

Scott McCloud on Comics

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