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Classics and Comics [Paperback]

George Kovacs , C. W. Marshall

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Book Description

Feb. 24 2011 0199734194 978-0199734191
Since at least 1939, when daily-strip caveman Alley Oop time-traveled to the Trojan War, comics have been drawing (on) material from Greek and Roman myth, literature and history. At times the connection is cosmetic - as perhaps with Wonder Woman's Amazonian heritage - and at times it is almost irrelevant - as with Hercules' starfaring adventures in the 1982 Marvel miniseries. But all of these make implicit or explicit claims about the place of classics in modern literary culture. Classics and Comics is the first book to explore the engagement of classics with the epitome of modern popular literature, the comic book. The volume collects sixteen articles, all specially commissioned for this volume, that look at how classical content is deployed in comics and reconfigured for a modern audience. It opens with a detailed historical introduction surveying the role of classical material in comics since the 1930s. Subsequent chapters cover a broad range of topics, including the incorporation of modern theories of myth into the creation and interpretation of comic books, the appropriation of characters from classical literature and myth, and the reconfiguration of motif into a modern literary medium. Among the well-known comics considered in the collection are Frank Miller's 300 and Sin City, DC Comics' Wonder Woman, Jack Kirby's The Eternals, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and examples of Japanese manga. The volume also includes an original 12-page comics-essay," drawn and written by Eisner Award-winning Eric Shanower, creator of the graphic novel series Age of Bronze."

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"There is much to be learned from this volume, not just about the comic art form but also about classics, which is truly the best and most productive form of reception studies."--Anastasia Bakogianni, The Classical Review

"Classics and Comics is a useful compendium of essays for students of the reception of classical mythology, literature, and history in the modern world, as well as for students of narrative theory. The volume makes accessible to a wider critical audience the theoretical and practical criticism of these media from the last decade and earlier." --Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"Whether the reader is liberal or specialized in his or her preferences regarding criticism, Classics and Comics is a dense work that will provide considerable food for thought." --World Literature in Review

"This collection of essays can persuade classicists who have yet to venture into comics to go boldly." --Mouseion

About the Author

George Kovacs teaches at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. C.W. Marshall is Associate Professor of Greek and Roman Theatre at the University of British Columbia.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading Greek mythology as Comics June 29 2011
By Dr. Baruch Blich - Published on
Whenever I read Greek mythology, as well as other nations' mythologies, I could not refrain from imaginig it as comics. The stories of the creation of the world to the wars depicted in Greek and the Roman mythologies, though functioned in ancient times in their religion context, can be seen today in the context of superhero renderings. Superman, Superwoman, Spiderman can be interpreted in the context of modern craving for devine salvation, much the same as greek mythology served in ancient times. Comics, being a popular medium, is to my mind the appropriate medium for rendering ancient popular culture, i.e.: greek mythology.
The book, edited by Kovacs and marshall, opens with papers on the representational problem of seeing the past through sequential art (using Eisner's defintion for comics), it continues with 'Gods and Superheros', part 3 of the book has to do to with the question debated in the 19th century by the father of comics, Rodolph Topffer - Drawing History, and the book ends with papers on Troy.
A much recommended book. Personally I will use the book teaching comics in my academy.

Ben Baruch Blich, ph.d.
History and Theory
Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design
0 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A great book ruined because of one page Oct. 9 2011
By Marc Riese - Published on
It is sad to see a ton of virtue ruined by an ounce of stupid evil. This book, a collection of papers and essays by various classics experts, is great until one reaches page 211. Here the reader is confronted with drawings, copied from a graphic novel by Eric Shanower, that clearly depict paedophilic rape of very young children. I am surprised that Oxford University Press published these drawings, and that the author of the specific chapter - Chiara Suprizio - and the editors of the book - George Kovacs and C.W. Marshall - saw fit to include them. The fact that Eric Shanower's graphic novel has been published in America implies that these specific drawings are not explicit enough to be illegal. That does not change what they very clearly depict. Neither the surrounding text explaining that the rape was traumatic for its victims nor Suprizio's caption noting that the matter is "sordid" justify including the drawings; Suprizio, the editors and of course Shanower should be aware that publishing such explicit drawings runs a real risk that someone somewhere will be less inhibited about mimicking that which is portrayed. This is why the distribution of such drawings is immoral and socially unacceptable.

To be clear, I support the freedom of, and recognise the necessity for, scholars and artists to deal with and publish their thoughts on reprehensible historical facts. However, there is a difference between documenting and analysing historical pederasty textually and portraying the physical act of pederasty in clearly explicit visual art. Responsible people in the 21st century must think of the consequences before they publish such images. Neither precedent, nor scholarly tradition, nor contemporary acceptance of that tradition justify the propagation of explicit paedophilic imagery. It is not necessary - other artists get their message across with less explicitness, and other scholars get their message across with a textual treatment of the artefact in question.

The ton of virtue that is ruined includes several important and worthy papers. Chiara Suprizio and the editors render a disservice to the other authors of this volume and, together with Shanower, to the comics genre. Whatever the intentions of the parties involved, it is intensely foolish to propagate such drawings because the risk of children being very seriously hurt is too high.

This review pertains to the first edition of the book. Hopefully it will not have to pertain to any future edition.

Of the many books that I have reviewed, this is the first that ranked below 3 out of 5.

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