In my recent video conference with my tutor, she advised me that the study of comics/marvel/sci-fi would be a useful and interesting route to take. I have to admit, I was somewhat phased by how to go about studying comics academically, but on advice from my tutor, I started looking for articles on jstor. The first article I found was entitled “It Ain’t Easy Studying Comics” by Greg M. Smith 1, which talks about the problem academics have in being taken seriously studying comics. How film studies have a more substantial reputation, he says we need to consider comics directly in their own right and not make apologies for the medium.
In an article found on Producing a comics, culture2 Brienza introduces a sociological approach to the study of art and literature in comics known as the ‘production of culture perspective.’ This approach argues that all artistic work, including comics “is the product of collective, often routinized, human activity. Therefore, it is not sufficient merely to study the text and/or the artist to whom the work is directly attributed. Rather, to fully understand any artistic work, one must also study the larger social and organizational context of its production and dissemination.”2
It struck me that with comics, unlike mainstream art, there is not one single artist attributable to a character.
In contrast, every character in the Marvel universe has its creators often. The paintbrush is passed from artist to artist as is the pen to create the story. This strikes me as quite different from photographs and paintings. We can easily attribute the Mona Lisa to Leonardo da Vinci, or the man jumping the puddle to Henri Cartier Bresson. But who painted iron man or who drew Superman is a more difficult question to answer.
This has led to characters particularly in the Marvel universe being rebooted when their back story is out of date or for sudden plot shifts that become forgotten over time.
I am still not sure entirely how to add an academic slant to this subject, but this post was my first attempt!
1Smith, Greg M. “It Ain’t Easy Studying Comics.” Cinema Journal, vol. 50, no. 3, 2011, pp. 110–112. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41240725. Accessed 23 Mar 2020.
2Bienza Casey “Producing comics culture: a sociological approach to the study of comics.” Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, vol.1. no 2 2010, pp 105-119 https://doi.org/10.1080/21504857.2010.528638. Accessed 23 Mar 2020.