Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Why Comics, Part 2: The Study of American Culture

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Back at the end of May, I attempted to explain when and why I got into comics, and for the most part, that entry (click here) gave a good, solid, down and dirty explanation of the when. It even touches on the why, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What it fails to do, however, and what I hope to do here, is explain more about what keeps me spending $30-$50 a week on comics (a budget that is extreme, to say the least).

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Comics Code: Alive and Well Until 2011

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Comics CodeI’ve been reading a LOT of books about comics lately: four in fact, at one time.  I read one chapter a day and then switch to a different book the next day. This is working really well because the four books I’m reading all have to do with the history of comics, and more specifically, the era of the “comics code”.  In fact, I’m even reading Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. Hard to have an opinion on something if you’ve never read the source, so I’ve been slogging my way through that one as well (my original opinion has not changed much).

This weekend I found myself on the final three chapters of Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code by Amy Kiste Nyberg, and I decided I wanted to finally FINISH one of the four books, and I did.  My impressions of the book? Honestly I was thrilled and relieved to find that it was not just another rehashing of Fredric Wertham and his crusade against the comic book industry.  Of course he’s included and in fact has his own chapter, but the entire book is NOT focused on him.   (more…)

Review: Golden Age of DC Comics, 1935-1956

Friday, June 14th, 2013

photo

Impressive cover, right? I was so excited when I saw this series on Amazon. I know Paul Levitz’s work and I hoped this would be everything I’ve come to expect from him. And in one way, it is. But only because I’ve read most of it before. Let me explain.

Lesson number one for me here is to ALWAYS click the “show more” in61fK6bDqf4L._SY300_ the book description. I read the first paragraph and was sold. The book arrived yesterday, and I anxiously tore into the package. The cover is, as mentioned, impressive. I opened the book and began eagerly scanning the pages, and that is when it hit me. These images seemed really, really familiar to me. At that moment I did not have time to investigate further because I needed to head out the door for an appointment, but as soon as I returned, I pulled up the coffee tabel, went to my “laptop” desk, and grabbed my copy (all 18 pounds of it) of 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking also by Paul Levitz. I placed both books on the coffee table (takes a fairly stable table to hold them both) and began a page by page comparison.

To be fair, The Golden Age of DC Comics, 1935-1956 has an awesome interview by Paul Levitz with Joe Kubert. Beyond that, however, the books are very, very similar. The text portion is often reduced somewhat from the 75 Years version, but most of the pictures are the same. To change things up a bit, they have taken smaller pictures from 75 Years and enlarged them in The Golden Age and vice versa. Had I clicked the “show more” under the description on Amazon, I would have read “Expanded from the Eisner Award–winning XL book, 75 Years of DC Comics . . . .” I probably still would have been sold because it states that it is expanded, and in one way, I guess it is because it does have the interview with Joe Kubert. Other than that, however, I’ve notice more reductions, at least in the text, than expansions.

I currently have the other two, The Silver Age of DC Comics and The Bronze Age of DC Comics, on pre-order. Whether or not I will keep them on pre-order is yet to be determined. There are several reasons a person might wish to order these books: 1) if they have not bought 75 Years of DC Comics, 2) you don’t wish to spend $130+ on the larger book, 3) you’re not sure how you would handle a 720 page book that weighs in just over 18 pounds and is 15.6 x 3.5 x 11.4 inches big. While The Golden Age is a large book at 400 pages, 5.5 pounds, and 12.8 x 1.7 x 9.4 inches large, it’s still a LOT more reasonable to handle than 75 Years. I’m also hoping that as I continue to look through the book, I’ll notice further additions of images not included in 75 Years. If I do, then yes, I’ll keep the other two on order. And even if I don’t, I have to admit that handling this book is much easier than trying to deal with 75 Years.

If you own 75 Years and decide to buy The Golden Age, please do not be disappointed that much of the content is the same. Go in knowing that and you’re sure to love The Golden Age as much as 75 Years.

Where Do I Stand on Fredric Wertham?

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

First, let me say that I was raised in the south, so there are several ‘rules’ that have been drilled into my very being: 1) respect your elders (which Wertham would have been), and 2) NEVER speak ill of the dead (which Wertham certainly is, since 1981).  With that being said, I will attempt to convey what I think about the role he has played, and yes, continues to play, in the comics industry.

For those who may not be sure of who Fredric Wertham is, he is most famous for his book entitled Seduction of the Innocent: The InfluencePicture of the cover of Fredick Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent book of Comic Books on Today’s Youth, published in 1954.  But you do not have to pick this book up to learn about Wertham’s role in attempting to ban comic books in the late 1940s and 50s. Read any book dealing with the history of the golden and silver age comics and you will get your share of Wertham.

To be fair and not judge just on what others have said about Wertham, I bought Seduction and have been reading it, along with three other books dealing with comics history, over the past week or so. I’m about a third of the way through the book, and to be honest, I’m wondering how I will survive the final two-thirds. The reading is repetitive and lacks any type of documentation or bibliography. Wertham bashes comics relentlessly and provides his “case studies” as evidence of the damage that comics were doing to the youth of his day, responsible for creating, almost single-handedly it would seem, juvenile delinquency.

While reading all of these texts, I ran across a piece from 2012 by Carol L. Tilley entitled “Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications That Helped Condemn Comics”. Tilley gained access to Wertham’s case files that were donated to the Library of Congress at the time of his death, and after sifting through boxes of notes, she has managed to prove that Wertham did indeed take ‘liberties’ with his research.

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No More “Dirty Rotten Coppers” in Comics or american comic book chronicles, 1960-64 Review

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

My research into comics history has lately been engrossed in the 40’s and 50’s to see what really spurred the industry to create the Comics Code of 1955, with all of it’s prohibitions against violence and gore in comics.  Those who study comics have all heard the name of Fredic Wertham and his contributions to the anticomics movement.  Even though he’s not one-handedly responsible for the code, and in fact stated that a code was NOT enough, he did play a key role in the adoption of the code by most publishers.

But this post is intended to step back from that particular era, and look at the publication of a new series of books that deal with the history of comics.  The series is entitled American Comic Book Chronicles.  The two books that have thus far been published are The 1960s: 1960-1964 and The 1980s: 1980-1989.  This post will look specifically at the 1960-1964 book, or the first decade after the establishment of the Comics Code.

BookFirst, let’s discuss the overall appearance of the book, which, quite frankly, is about all I’ve had time to look at thus far.  I think the cover could be quite deceiving for many.  It is basically 8 1/2 x 11 and looks like it could be extremely text heavy.  We all know that when it comes to books, the first two things that grab our attention are 1) The title and 2) the cover.  The book is hardbound and the cover is glossy, two things that gives the reader hope that the inside will be more than just another text based history with a few black and white images in the middle (like so many books on the history of comics are).

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SDT (not to be confused with with STD) and Me

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

What is SDT?  Basically, the way I understand it right now, it is the theory that all humans have three psychological needs: coherence—how confident we are in our ability to perform; relatedness—our relationships not only with others, but with our society in general; and autonomy—whether or not we feel we are in control of our lives.  These three basic needs determine our quality of life, or they are the things that are “essential for ongoing psychological growth, integrity, and well-being” (Deci 229).  With that understanding (limited as it may be), how can I relate this to my own experiences and work.

I was about half-way through the Deci and Ryan article when I began thinking about my work in comics, specifically Batwoman.  That lead me to thinking about the other female superheroes like Black Canary, Wonder Woman, Phantom Lady, Black Angel, and many others that were prominent prior to and during WWII.  But, as Mike Madrid points out, “the end of World War II also brought an end to much of the freedom and lives of derring-do that these women enjoyed” (21).  Like these superheroes, many women who had enjoyed unknown freedom during WWII had it suddenly pulled out from underneath them when the men returned home.  Rosie the Riveter was to return to homemaking . . . and be happy about it.

While reading Deci and Ryan, I began to make connections between these ideas of autonomy  coherence, and relatedness and the beginning of the second wave of feminism.  During WWII and the absence of many husbands, women became aware of their ability to function outside of the kitchen, the contribution they could make to society, and the control they could have over their lives, making decisions for themselves rather than having them made for them.  Once the husbands returned, they were forced back into their previous lives.  Many could no longer be happy with these lives because, based on SDT, their base psychological needs were no longer being met.

While reading the Deci and Ryan article often made my head spin, it enabled me to make some connections to things that interest me.  Perhaps it can shed new light on some of my superhero research.

Theory & Research: it’s all about the research

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

This week, the focus falls to two things that kept running through my mind while finishing up the NIH’s Theory at a Glance and Wei Peng’s “Design and Evaluation of a Computer Game to Promote a Healthy Diet for Young Adults”, published in Health Communication.  First, I want to discuss theory.

Granted, the name of this serious games course is “Theories of Games and Interaction for Design” and as such, I expected to be exposed to a great deal of theory, however, not this much theory.  I expected to learn about theories associated with game design in general and serious game design specifically, and I wouldn’t say I was surprised when we focused for a couple of weeks on theories of learning: the two really do go hand-in-hand.  The amount of focus, though, on theories surrounding health behavior and change surprises me.  NIH’s Theory at a Glance alone discusses eight different theories focusing on health.  At this point-in-time, I feel as if I’m in theory overload.  What I have to keep reminding myself is that ALL of these theories can apply to different areas, not just health.  The realization is that I need to create a chart listing all of the theories discussed thus far to try to keep them straight in my mind and to have a quick reference when it comes to creating my final project.

Now to shift the focus to Peng’s “Design and Evaluation of a Computer Game to Promote a Healthy Diet for Young Adults”, which discusses the game Rightway Café.  The article itself provides excellent information on the theories associated with behavioral change and games being tailored to meet individual needs.  The discussion that followed, however, about Rightway Café left me questioning the validity of the research itself.  Three points, in particular, were troublesome:

  • 32 of the 40 participants were women
  • the game play lasted for only 42 minutes on average and the game was only played one time
  • the long term follow-up came after only one month

By the end of the article, Peng addresses these limitations, but that is not enough to alleviate the doubts surrounding the validity of the findings.  While the variable of the number of men versus women might be difficult to control, the others were completely within the control of the researcher.  That leaves me questioning why the participants only played the game one time, why game play only averaged 42 minutes, and why the follow-up came after only one month.  For me, these are all red flags and unless further, more thorough research substantiates these results, I would not use this research as evidence in any of my own work.

With all of that being said, I do realize that all research has to start somewhere.  In a case like this, I believe it would be prudent of the researcher to discuss limitations upfront to prepare the reader.  I believe that having that knowledge upfront would have tempered my skepticism and kept me more engaged in the actual results.

Batwoman Part II: A Digression

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I will eventually get to the Batwoman Picture of Detective Comics #233, featuring Batwoman on the cover riding a motorcycle, outrunning Batman and Robin comics that are currently on shelves, but before I do, I feel I have to do my due diligence in introducing the original Batwoman character.  I believe that it is only through understanding how and where she began that one can truly appreciate where she is today.  While the cover of that issue seems quite progressive for the 1950’s, as you can see to the right, the actual story line is more like two steps forward and three steps back. (more…)

it’s all about your perspective

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

And indeed, it is.  Who would have ever thought that drawing in perspective would be so difficult.  I mean, I’ve watched some pretty cool YouTube videos, and this one in particular seemed to cover the 1, 2, and 3 point perspective fairly well.  When I finished watching this video, I thought to myself, “well that was easy”, and in reality, I could do what he does here if I watched and worked along with him.  But when I tried something on my own later, this is what I came up with:

As one can easily see, I’m just not getting it yet.

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back in the USA

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

That’s right, I arrived home on Tuesday, the 26th, at 1:00 am.  Jetlag is still my closest companion right now.  My equilibrium is still off from all of the air travel, and sleep isn’t exactly normal.  When I got in Tuesday morning, I ended up taking Tylenol PM to finally fall asleep around 2:00 AM.  I woke up at 9:00 AMon Tuesday and somehow managed to stay up until 11:00 PM.  I immediately fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.  That lasted until about 3:00 AM when I woke up and was wide awake.  I read until time to go to work.  I lasted at work until about 2:00 PM yesterday before I finally had to call it quits for the day.  Last night, I did not take any chances and took Motrin PM around 10:00.  That seemed to work, as I was able to fall back to sleep each time I awoke to thunder and lightening, but for some reason, today I still feel groggy and dizzy.  Hopefully this will improve as the week goes on.

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