Kapow! The chess-player in comic-books, 1940–53
in A cultural history of chess-players
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This chapter examines issues surrounding respectability and domesticity in the comic-book, the quintessential mid-twentieth-century American historical document, from the generation before Bobby Fischer's first national appearances. It focuses on distinct aspects relating to the appearance and function of the chess-player and considers comic-books from the USA within a short timespan. The strategies of bodily representation of the comic-book chess-player are made to reflect emotional and behavioural norms. Collectively, the superhero comic-book chess-players demonstrate how home and homeland within American ideology was linked inextricably. Another group of comic-books are more confrontational in their representations of the chess-player, with a Gothic strand to their story-telling. The juxtaposition between super-body and super-mind is apparent in two comic-book stories. The first is the orientalist series Dr Fung in which we meet Karno the Chessman. Secondly, in The Gladiator, a side-story in the Blue Beetle comic-book, where we encounter the 'Chess Killer'.

A cultural history of chess-players

Minds, machines, and monsters


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