Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

In This Issue

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

In This Issue

Article excerpt

Okay, I admit it--I love comics. I indulge myself these days primarily in comic strips because I can access so many of them online (that is, for free). Every day as I eat my lunch, I look at my regular strips--around twenty all told. I love comic books, too, but I am way too cheap to buy them at today's prices (yes, I can remember when they were 25 cents), so I sneak a look at them in the bookstore when I can. Speaking of bookstores, if my wife ever loses me in one, she knows that if she goes to the "Humor" section, there I probably will be, engrossed in an old Doonesbury collection, or Calvin and Hobbes, or Bloom County, or Far Side, or whatever else I can get my hands on. Yes, I am a 47-year-old man with a comics fixation. I do not apologize for it.

As soon as I learned how to read, I read the comics--before that, I forced my parents to read them to me. I have vivid memories of waiting in agony as my father, who always got the Sunday comics first (or as we called them, the "funnies"), pored over every panel as if each contained some complex code. It always seemed as if it took him forever to finish with them, though in reality it probably was no more than twenty minutes. I even taught myself to read upside-down so that I could read the strips as he was looking at them. In terms of comic books, I was always a DC man--Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and the Justice League (multiple superheroes for the price of one!). Marvel was good, but for my simple tastes its heroes suffered from too much angst--plus, Marvel's stories were almost always "to be continued," and I could never count on our local drugstore to get the next installment.

So this issue has been especially fun for me. Leading off the issue is one of the most notable scholars of comics and popular culture, Thomas Inge. Professor Inge discusses the comics as art, looks at comic milestones in the twentieth century, and examines how the comics can refer to themselves much like metafiction or metacriticism. Next, in a first for the Forum, Matt Bors has drawn an original comic that is both fun and educational (how often have you heard that phrase?). Mr. Bors introduces us to Fredric Wertham, the man who was most responsible for cleaning up (or as some would term it, censoring) the comics by helping to create the Comics Code in the 1950s. …

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