Son of Classics and Comics

Son of Classics and Comics

Son of Classics and Comics

Son of Classics and Comics

Synopsis

Wonder Woman, Amazon Princess; Asterix, indefatigable Gaul; Ozymandias, like Alexander looking for new worlds to conquer. Comics use classical sources, narrative patterns, and references to enrich their imaginative worlds and deepen the stories they present. Son of Classics and Comics explores that rich interaction. This volume presents thirteen original studies of representations of the ancient world in the medium of comics. Building on the foundation established by their groundbreaking Classics and Comics (OUP, 2011), Kovacs and Marshall have gathered a wide range of studies with a new, global perspective. Chapters are helpfully grouped to facilitate classroom use, with sections on receptions of Homer, on manga, on Asterix, and on the sense of a 'classic" in the modern world. All Greek and Latin are translated. Lavishly illustrated, the volume widens the range of available studies on the reception of the Greek and Roman worlds in comics significantly, and deepens our understanding of comics as a literary medium. Son of Classics and Comics will appeal to students and scholars of classical reception as well as comics fans.

Excerpt

Among the many delights of American comic books from the 1960s to the 1980s were the advertisements, promising inexpensive gimmicks and toys to their excited readers, all in return for a self-addressed stamped envelope and their allowances. None held the same promise, however, as the complete plastic armies that were offered by anonymous companies with ads illustrated by Russ Heath, whose confident line work in war comics of the 1960s inspired Roy Lichtenstein (among others). Heath’s illustration of Roman soldiers was the first image of the ancient world for many North American children, and, with Asterix comics, they have helped shape expectations for Roman history courses in subsequent generations (figure 0.1). The plastic toys that one received were inevitably disappointing; they were not quite as three-dimensional as the adolescent brain imagined, and the stark blue and yellow plastic figures required considerable creative effort by the Greek-less, Latin-less ten-year-old to reconstruct a Roman battlefield, especially when the figures could barely remain upright on the narrow stands included. The power of illustration in Heath’s drawings seems not even to have been realized at first; the earliest ads used the illustration only as part of the background, against which one was shown replicas of the actual figures. This no doubt limited sales, and truth in advertising gave way to a more fanciful, imagined glory-that-was-Rome.

In those days, before the Internet and before trade paperbacks collecting entire story arcs under a single cover, when “research” into comics consisted of reading what one could borrow from friends or learn by reading the relevant letters column, the appearance of a collection of reprinted superhero origin stories—Origins of Marvel Comics, by Stan Lee (Fireside, 1974)—was a heady delight. Here was the otherwise unavailable source material; here was where one could learn how one’s favorite characters came to be. Not just one collection, either; sequels followed, including Son of Origins of Marvel Comics in 1975, which reprinted the first issues featuring the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Silver Surfer (figure 0.2). Reading and rereading these volumes were a delight and an education, and it is in tribute to that era of the late 1970s

1. Some details of the history of these advertisements can be found in this unexpected essay on a model train website:

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