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American horror comics as Cold War commentary and critique

Printing Terror places horror comics of the mid-twentieth century in dialogue with the anxieties of their age. It rejects the narrative of horror comics as inherently and necessarily subversive and explores, instead, the ways in which these texts manifest white male fears over America’s changing sociological landscape. It examines two eras: the pre-CCA period of the 1940s and 1950s, and the post-CCA era to 1975. The authors examine each of these periods through the lenses of war, gender, and race, demonstrating that horror comics are centred upon white male victimhood and the monstrosity of the gendered and/or racialised other. It is of interest to scholars of horror, comics studies, and American history. It is suitably accessible to be used in undergraduate classes.

and the Triumph of Scottish Schadenfreude
Chris Murray

This article examines Denise Mina‘s treatment of Scottish identity and the gothic tradition in her run on Hellblazer, an American horror comic about an English occultist, John Constantine. Mina takes Constantine to Glasgow to confront the deadly “empathy plague” which forces victims to emphasise with others. Mina argues that the Scots revel in the misery of others, making them easy victims for this malady. However, this failing becomes a means for victory, as everyone is united in an outpouring of shameful joy at the story‘s conclusion. Mina‘s Scotland is a home away from home for Constantine – haunted, embittered and lost – and her image of Scotland mirrors representations seen in other Scottish Gothic texts.

Gothic Studies
Author: Neal Curtis

This book explores the concept of sovereignty through an analysis of superhero comics. Sovereignty is traditionally understood to be the legitimate monopoly on the use of force in a given territory. It is therefore a complex mix of authority, strength, law and violence, which are all used to a secure a physical and existential identity for a defined community. Another defining trait of the sovereign is the capacity to suspend the law and declare a state of emergency. Given that superheroes are themselves composites of authority, law and violence, while also being exceptional figures operating in a seemingly extra-legal space, they are perfect for working through the problems associated with the concept of sovereignty. However, rather than use superhero comics to simply illustrate the problems associated with sovereignty, the book argues that superhero comics—using a range of stories and characters from the Marvel and DC universes—explicitly engage with the themes in a critically reflexive and politically progressive way undermining the charge that they are simply conservative defenders of the status quo or dumb vigilantes. The book also argues that at the heart of superhero universes is a fundamental intuition about the contradictory nature of sovereignty, that it is at once both absolutely powerful and absolutely nihilating. The book claims that this intuition should inform our theories of what sovereignty means.

The Urban Gothic of Fin-de-Siècle London and Gotham City
Erica McCrystal

Gothic literature set in fin-de-siècle London has often been argued to highlight duality. However, the urban Gothic truly flourishes through its liminality, which allows chaos and order to coexist. Texts such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray offer versions of a Gothic London that have the appearance of structure but are difficult to navigate. Likewise, the Batman franchise has embraced Gotham City as a setting that provides tensions between order and chaos. In Gotham, as in fin-de-siècle London, liminality puts pressures on apparent boundaries. While the urban Gothic initially developed through nineteenth century British texts, modern-day comics and films within the Batman franchise have allowed us to see how a multiverse normalises liminality and embraces multiple works to speak collectively about Gothic tensions. This article analyses the liminal nature of the urban Gothic in both cities side by side to argue that the urban Gothic’s liminal nature allows instability to reign.

Gothic Studies

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the most popular novels in western literature. It has been adapted and re-assembled in countless forms, from Hammer Horror films to young-adult books and bandes dessinées. Beginning with the idea of the ‘Frankenstein Complex’, this edited collection provides a series of creative readings that explore the elaborate intertextual networks that make up the novel’s remarkable afterlife. It broadens the scope of research on Frankenstein while deepening our understanding of a text that, 200 years after its original publication, continues to intrigue and terrify us in new and unexpected ways.

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Appropriating white male fear
Michael Goodrum and Philip Smith

Conclusion: appropriating white male fear In 2019, as we were writing this book, Marc Singer published his major intervention into comics scholarship, Breaking the Frames.1 Comics Studies has, Singer argues, often struggled under a perceived (and, perhaps, at least partially invented) sense of marginalization within both the academic community and culture at large. This fear of not being taken seriously, Singer argues, has produced a resistance among certain comics scholars towards approaches and readings that threaten to trivialize or infantilize their subject

in Printing terror
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Michael Goodrum and Philip Smith

)1 The war described above by Wells did not happen; it is a traumatic future history transmitted through dream and recorded by Dr Philip Raven, a prominent international diplomat. Published in 1933, The Shape of Things to Come probes the near future and recent past and finds only horror. In the wake of the real war, which contained nightmares unimagined by Wells, horror comics served a similar function, investigating the war, its aftermath, and the anxieties to which it gave rise. They both anticipated and documented some of the traumatic effects of the war – the

in Printing terror
Norse gods and American comics during the Second World War
Jón Karl Helgason

The most striking echoes of medieval Icelandic literature in contemporary American culture are several recent blockbuster movies from Marvel Studios in which the superhero Thor, brought to life by the Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, plays a prominent role. These films can be considered as adaptations of a series of graphic stories about the Mighty Thor and the Avengers that Marvel Comics started to release in the 1960s. The first tale, published in the magazine Journey into Mystery #83 in 1962, was created by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Larry Liber, but the

in From Iceland to the Americas
Michael Goodrum and Philip Smith

country. The inevitability of social change, and the buried truths it threatened to unearth, was, for men like Milam, a source of horror that needed to be violently suppressed. In the previous two chapters, we have shown that horror comics of the 1950s presented a world profoundly affected by the Second World War. We have further demonstrated that, as a recurring theme, horror comics present white men as victims and women as a source of horror; women wield unsanctioned forms of power, are dangerous in numbers, actively seek to harm men and, the comics propose, must be

in Printing terror
Facing the apocalypse in Watchmen
Christian W. Schneider

subverted and deconstructed most of the genre’s rules, creating something groundbreaking. As Douglas Wolk testifies, it was ‘obvious from the front cover of the first issue alone … that Watchmen was something revolutionary’, with an incredible influence on comics as a medium and as an industry. 4 Perhaps it is this revolutionary character, turning

in Alan Moore and the Gothic Tradition