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Allies and Disability Representation in Contemporary Russian Comics

José Alaniz

University of Washington, Seattle

Note: all translations are the author’s own.

 

Corrections Class (Klass korrektsii, d. Ivan Tverdovsky, 2015) is a hard-hitting film about disability in Russia. In one scene, a mother, Svetlana Viktorovna (Natalya Pavlenkova), struggles to push her paraplegic teen daughter Lena (Maria Poyezhayeva) in her wheelchair up a two-track cement ramp outside her high school. But the ramp, which we had seen in the process of construction earlier in the movie, has a fatal flaw: a gap of several inches between it and the sidewalk – too wide for a wheelchair to overcome. Worse than useless, the ramp is a spit in the face, a bureaucratic nod to inclusivity with no actual follow-through. It drives Svetlana Viktorovna, who has more than enough troubles in her life, to hiss with rage: “Thank you very much, my dears. Great job.”[1] Equal parts maudlin melodrama, documentary exposé and black farce, the scene is not exactly fiction (though the film is). It had a real-life basis.

In the fall of 2012, a popular series of memes emerged on the Runet (Russian internet): pictures of the many inaccessible spaces for wheelchair-users in Russian cities, turned into absurdist set decoration by ramps built impossibly steep; ramps with trees and other objects blocking the way; broken ramps with wide cracks; and ramps leading to/from nowhere (e.g., into walls). “The inaccessible-ramps meme gained popularity not as [a] representation of the problem of disability inclusion in Russia,” wrote anthropologist Cassandra Hartblay, “but as a joke about the country’s infrastructure, ironic evidence of dysfunction in Russian daily life” (“Good”: 3).[2] Hartblay goes on to call the ramps “an overdetermined symbol, or a red herring for access” in postsocialism (“Good”: 4).

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Lev Gleason Publications and Pre-Code PR:

Attracting Mature Readers[1]

By Peter W. Y. Lee

Among the 1954 Comics Magazine Association of America’s Comic Code’s many regulations was a directive to company admen: “Liquor and tobacco advertising is not acceptable” (Nyberg 168). The ubiquity of alcohol in mainstream media certainly concerned social guardians in post-war America (Rotskoff). However, liquor manufacturers did not solicit to minors in the comics, but another demographic group: their parents.

The first part of my article looked at how Lev Gleason Publications responded to the public alarm over comic books. Gleason and his chief editor, Charles Biro, pushed comics as a progressive medium with educational and artistic merit. This second part explores their second strategy: courting adults. Gleason hoped that an expanded readership would bolster support and offset rising production costs. However, critics rejected comic books’ potential beyond that of disposable children’s entertainment. The Comics Code sanitised comic books and stigmatised readers beyond middle-school age.

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Posted by on 2020/07/17 in Guest Writers

 

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Report on the Superheroes Beyond Conference (December 2018)

By Vincent Tran

 

On the 6-8 of December 2018, the Superheroes Beyond Conference took place at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne. Organised by the Superheroes and Me research group of Angela Ndalianis, Liam Burke and Ian Gordon, and part of a larger project funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), the conference was built on the crux of going “beyond out-dated definitions of superheroes”, stemming from the costumed heroes of the 1940s. Running alongside the conference was also the exhibition on Cleverman (2016 -), an Aboriginal superhero television show as well as the Superheroes: Realities Collide virtual reality experience, also organised by Superheroes and Me, allowing participants to explore the streets of Melbourne as a superhero in VR. Across these three days over 50 presenters expanded and enriched the dialogue on superheroes, all in a collaborative effort to hopefully shift the direction of future research to new uncharted ground. Through exploring international examples, historical antecedents, real life super-heroism, on top of a multitude of perspectives, these presentations opened up the discussion beyond the white male caped crusader.

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Australian Comics Symposium at PCAF (Perth Comic Arts Festival)

by Stuart Medley

 

PCAF A4 poster by Soolagna MajumdarArt by Soolagna Majumdar

 

The Australian Comics Symposium was a one-day conference held at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, on Friday 29 June 2018, as part of the inaugural Perth Comic Arts Festival (29-30 June 2018).

 

This event was the first comics-focused festival in Western Australia. For many years Perth has been on the annual circuit of two major Australian pop culture events: Supanova and Oz Comic-Con. Both events have provided paid-for opportunities for local comics makers to show their portfolios and sell comics and comics-related art. However, both have a modus operandi similar to San Diego Comic-Con, in that they feature TV and film celebrity appearances and foreground the sale of pop culture merchandise. It was a stated aim of the PCAF organisers to have the focus on comics and to see what appetite there was in Perth for such an event. The inaugural PCAF was a big success with most of the visiting artists and scholars declaring it the best comics event they had been to in Australia. The market day attracted hundreds of visitors. Vendors all reported having done more business than at the big pop culture conventions. PCAF was covered by the national broadcaster (ABC) on its television news and reported in the state newspaper, The West Australian.

 

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A Culture of New Racism in Comics

By Whitney Hunt

 

New Racism Ideology In the USA

Whiteness is an enduring construct of privilege and power that systematically shapes and maintains racial inequality, resulting in a hierarchal system of oppression toward people of color (Feagin & Elias 2013). Systematic racism requires generations of people reproducing racist institutions and the white racial framings that support them (Feagin 2013). According to Feagin (2013), the white racial frame is a broad concept encompassing racist practices, imagery and discourse throughout US society shaped by and for the primary benefit of individuals considered white by society. In all eras of American history, manifestations of racism contain the ideological underpinning that justifies racial inequality. Moreover, the societal grip of white racial framing underscores the gross reality that America’s racist foundations are regularly unacknowledged (Feagin 2014; Bonilla-Silva 2017).

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Posted by on 2018/09/17 in Guest Writers, Women

 

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