Comic books have a lot to say about power and responsibility, according to Media and Communications student CHARLIE SMITH-McMAHON. Here, he explains why he set up Coventry Comic Book Club as an extension of his studies.
I was kidnapped by my lecturer Ady and my friend Nadhirah. They were yelling “comic books” and I was whisked away to the library to talk about them.
I have a giant bag that’s full of comic books I’ve bought over the years. It’s too heavy to carry properly so it’s on wheels. So I started doing small talks – like the Avengers, and the differences between the comic books and the movies. There’s not many but there are some key differences, and they’re important.
For instance, the three original Avengers who are the same in the movies are The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor. Originally Captain America wasn’t in the comic books until the Sixties.
Ant-Man and Wasp were original Avengers and they picked the name. But Ant Man was a really difficult character to put out first in the movies so they used Captain America, who’s a big symbol of everything American.
It’s super-relevant to my studies because comic books have very recently got a resurgence in movies after the disaster that was Batman and Robin. They’ve started again with the release of Blade in the Nineties – though that was vampire horror. The next big one was Spiderman in 2002.
And it’s culturally relevant because it’s a recent representation of big powerful people in position to save people and it’s an interesting thing to look into, from the way it represents people around the superheroes as well. Children are inspired by these big figures of power.
It’s the basic lessons: with power comes great responsibility. That’s been shoved down the throats of every Spiderman fan. Because that’s true: when people are more powerful they need to take more responsibility for their actions.
Or in the Avengers, it’s just simply we won’t let evil take over. That’s a basic lesson that’s been in storytelling for years.
Pictures are great. The art is fantastic sometimes. Sometimes it’s not.
Comic books are an important representation because they’ve been around before superheroes. It wasn’t originally superheroes that made comic books big; it was also history and romance.
Then along came like Batman and Nineties pulp heroes who are more down to earth. And Superman, obviously, because he’s one of the first big ones.
Superheroes are these figures with insurmountable period that can’t easily be put into words.
There are plenty of superhero stories around but some things are just hard to describe. Images are important because you can get across things that are hard to get across with words, but you can draw it.
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Pictures by Adam Teighe