Comic books are a part of every society in the world. They represent ideas that the young minds who read them, can understand. In essence, comic books play a huge role in depicting what the society. In many comic books, there are always the protagonists and the antagonist, while they can be seen as villains and heroes fighting for an individual cause, these characters often represent the forces of good and evil in the modern contemporary world. The essays describe America as it is seen, through examining the cultural artifact – Comic Books and American Cultural History anthology – Arguments within artifact shall test whether the comic book can serve as a tool to understanding the long standing traditions of America people in various parts. First, through the material found in the book, the essay will examine various publications that illustrate the mechanisms of American cultural history. Second, as an article, it will use the comic books as artifacts of great significance. The preceding section of the exposition, will study the paradigm revolving around identity crisis of a historical nature in the start of the 1900’s. As the last part pays attention on the various ways that Americans, past ways of life is treated as discussed in details.
Comic books are graphical representations of ideas that could be of a fictitious nature or non-fiction as well. In the area of academia, they have often been considered a sensitive and a misunderstood subject (Berninger et al. 45) Over the times, comic books have grown from just a source of entertainment to representing cultures and a way of life, in many regions of the world. Over recent years, they have gained recognition. Institutions of higher education, have adapted the study of comic books into their respective programs. The approach has seen an increased interest in the narrative media form of comic book, its contents, and the characters. Comic Books and American Cultural History as an anthology is diverse and gives insight to many issues that are ongoing in the US.
The contributing writers to the collection are highly educated individuals from fields that show a strong correlation between English and American Literature and as well as Asian studies. Furthermore, the diversity in the topic is interesting as it begins with frontier myths and extends to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Familiar characters are discussed in the book as well as unfamiliar characters who are heroes in their ways. Moreover, the contributors have demonstrated a strong relation between the imagery and texts to give opposing and conflicting meanings which vivify their work altogether. Nonetheless, the various writers whose works have been adapted into the book maintain a strong connection with American Cultural history and in the long run serve to show, how comic books can be used to understanding the Culture in the US and not just serving as entertainment items (Shane, Christina and Daniel 237).
Cultural history through comic books
The first section of the anthology centers around how comic books are resourceful as teaching tools of shedding light on history. History in most cases is often documented in a way that is not easy to comprehend, especially to individuals who have no passion or interest in reading or have not developed the culture. According to Meyer, Christina, and Micha (45-48), comic books represent remarkable historical details as well as evidence and research and are beneficial as literary and ancient texts in themselves. In the anthology, the examples that best illustrate this aspect include Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde: the war in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995. Marshal clearly emphasizes on advantages of comic books as mediums where there is an impressive sequence of the imagery and the words employed to give meaning to historical occurrences, thus educating future generations of past events that were a significant aspect in respect to the history of the world and that of America.
Custer’s “Last stand in the Preacher” and Grady in his work, “transcending the frontier myth: Dime Novel Narration concentrates on the way the creator of preacher series of 1995-2000 handles a historian’s role. The intertwining of a reality fiction and history that is based on facts is often a challenge in all literary courses of fiction. In his work, Grady points out that comic books combines elements of reality, myth, and history, which not only shows the creator’s skill to produce an insightful historical version, but also show the way “even products of popular culture have the capability to tell and show history” (Williams 17-19).
Comic book as cultural artifact
The second part of the collection shows that comics represent cultural artifacts as well as sources of research and teaching. In the article, American Golem, the author points out that a biographical methodology in the analysis of Superman (From DC Comics) represents a set of beliefs and norms that were upheld by the Roosevelt White House Administration. At that point, of time, the president supported the assimilation of many ideas and culture in the American way of life, despite such an opinion being intriguing. Martin Lund seems able to merge two approaches, which are the New Deal rhetoric and biographical analysis.
Parody and Propaganda by John Donovan set the stage for the discussion of the cold war. In this comic, Donovan shares the occurrences in the different historical periods and circumstances under which the creators envisioned their sequels. As a result, it leads to a lot of techniques and aesthetics within the story lines as well as in the invention of the characters. Nonetheless, it offers implicit critique concerning the historical context of the time it refers and goes ahead to show that comic books and graphic novels are good sources of cultural artifact.
Comic books and Historical Identity
Historical identity is a phenomenon that many individual suffered in the 1970’s in America. In Grasping for Identity, Peter Lee demonstrates how the main character Shang-Chi, struggles to find his identity and in some instances is involved in violent confrontations. The contributor does an excellent job in highlighting the plight of the minorities in the US, then, as Asian-Americans struggled with identity crises as depicted in the work of the writer. Moreover, superheroes in the main stream America are seen as having a crisis of confidence, as demonstrated in Mathew Pustz’s Paralysis and Stagnation: America’s Malaise. In the graphic novel, mainstream superheroes are seen as abandoning their costumes as they suffer from a lack of direction, as they face overwhelming power problems that seem impossible to overcome. The depiction merely mirrored the social, political, and cultural reality of that time.
Comic books and Contemporary History
9/11 attacks changed the way comics were written. It impacted on the American way of life, and through the works of both David Lewis “The Militarism of American Superheroes after 9/11” and Jeff Geers’s “The great Machine Does not Wear a Cape, American Cultural Anxiety and the Post 9/11 Superhero.” One can clearly see that a shift in the narratives of most comics changed because of the attack on American soil (Pustz 15). It also resulted to doubts in the abilities of superheroes to be the protectors of nations as well as national figures. Additionally, both works show how the superheroes have become imperfect fighters in wars that do not concern them and thereby fail in executing their roles as guardians of their countries.
Comic Books and American Cultural History anthology is rewarding for individuals who have an interest in comic books, as important historical details are covered in an intriguing manner, meant to enlighten the reader in various incidents that took place long before they were born. The individual essays in the book serve as historical agents and helps readers to understand the cultural artifacts that the book itself reveals.
Berninger, Mark, et al., eds. Comics as a nexus of cultures: essays on the interplay of media, disciplines and international perspectives. Vol. 22. McFarland, 2010.Print.
Kauranen, Ralf. "Transnational perspectives on graphic narratives. Comics at the crossroads, by Shane Denson, Christina Meyer and Daniel Stein." Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics 5.2 (2014): 236-239.Print.
Meyer, Christina, and Micha Edlich. American Comic Books and Graphic Novels. Universitätsverlag Winter, 2011.Print.
Pustz, Matthew. Comic book culture: Fanboys and true believers. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 1999. Print.
Williams, Rachel Marie-Crane. "Image, text, and story: Comics and graphic novels in the classroom." Art Education 61.6 (2008): 13-19.Print.