Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Encyclopedia of Literature: Cockfield Suffolk to Frances Cornford (née Darwin) Biography

Comics

The Beano, The Dandy, Superman, Dick Tracy, Batman

graphic hope fantasy american

The term refers to at least three different kinds of graphic and other work: drawings of jokes and serial adventures in certain newspapers (largely, initially American ones); certain (now mostly defunct) British magazines for children, offering stories, jokes, puzzles, and competitions; and (again largely American) colourful magazines depicting the exploits of superheroes and other creatures of fantasy. The first kind of comic—the comic strip—ranges from simple gags to mild pornography, and from Charles Schultz's ‘Peanuts’ to Peter O'Donell's ‘Modesty Blaise’, and includes satirical work like Garry Trudeau's ‘Doonesbury’, Steve Bell's running commentary on the ineptitudes of British political life, and Posy Simmonds' amusing but remorseless exposure of many layers of English pretension. The second kind of comic, represented by the continuing publication of The Beano and The Dandy, is fast becoming a historical footnote, but remains a part of the literary formation of many people, the place they first read printed fiction and gained their early experience of getting or not getting a graphic joke. The third kind of comic not only continues to sell ever more widely, but has begotten interesting progeny: the graphic novel, often brilliantly drawn, where Batman, for instance, acquires a dark and near psychotic history, and where large contemporary issues of politics and philosophy are addressed through the sheer extravagance and anarchy of myth; and the comic-based film, like Superman or Dick Tracy or Batman, where the very colours of the comics, and their highly stylized worlds, lead us into zones of fantasy which more conventionally photographed films cannot reach. Not all of the heroes of contemporary comics are as amiable or typically virtuous as Captain Marvel and Captain America; but then the violent Judge Dredd and other avengers look like parodies of their forebears, the vigilante-fascists we hope we really do not need—or need only in the lurid dreams displayed and (we hope) exorcised by our comics.

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