Comic Books as the Modern American Mythology Cover Image

Comic Books as the Modern American Mythology
Comic Books as the Modern American Mythology

Author(s): Dawid Przywalny
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: KSIĘGARNIA AKADEMICKA Sp. z o.o.

Summary/Abstract: This article describes comics as a modern form of mythology. Comic book artists not only adapt well‑known American myths, such as the power of money (Batman) or America as a home for immigrants (Superman), but they also co‑create new ones along with other cultural works. For one of the characteristics of mythology is taming, explaining and commenting on reality in the form of fantastic tales. All of American history and the image of society can be found in comics. The lives of immigrants in the early twentieth century and experiences of the World Wars were illustrated in short comics that appeared in the daily press. The events of the Cold War such as the arms race and the Vietnam War were portrayed through the eyes of famous characters such as the Fantastic Four and Iron Man. Comics were also the target of Puritan society. Just like the Hays Code concerning cinema, the system of self‑censorship called the Comics Code limited artistic freedom and forced some artists to create underground. In turn, the counterculture of the 1960’s led to a gradual liberalization, allowing the adventures of African and Afro‑American superheroes to be published. Likewise, the economic crisis of the 1970s, problems in American society and the Reagan era are reflected in such comics as The Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. Surprisingly, the economic boom of the 1990s brought about a creative crisis and financial troubles among publishers. Last but not least, the events of 9/11 gave comic book stories new power when superheroes began to fight against terrorists and to explore the issue of what is more important: national security or civil liberties. All of this indicates and highlights that the history of American comic books is closely linked with the history of the American nation.

  • Issue Year: 2014
  • Issue No: 15
  • Page Range: 117-128
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: English