How to Read Superhero Comics and Why

How to Read Superhero Comics and Why

by Geoff Klock (Author)


Superhero comic books are traditionally thought to have two distinct periods, two major waves of creativity: the Golden Age and the Silver Age. In simple terms, the Golden Age was the birth of the superhero proper out of the pulp novel characters of the early 1930s, and was primarily associated with the DC Comics Group. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman are the most famous creations of this period. In the early 1960s, Marvel Comics launched a completely new line of heroes, the primary figures of the Silver Age: the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, the Avengers, Iron Man, and Daredevil. In this book, Geoff Klock presents a study of the Third Movement of superhero comic books. He avoids, at all costs, the temptation to refer to this movement as "Postmodern," "Deconstructionist," or something equally tedious. Analyzing the works of Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, and Grant Morrison among others, and taking his cue from Harold Bloom, Klock unearths the birth of self-consciousness in the superhero narrative and guides us through an intricate world of traditions, influences, nostalgia and innovations - a world where comic books do indeed become literature.


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More Information

Format: Paperback
Pages: 216
Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
Published: 05 Dec 2002

ISBN 10: 0826414192
ISBN 13: 9780826414199

Media Reviews
Klock's strength lies in his commitment to looking at comics in a novel way, through the lens of literary analysis. He melds his encyclopedic knowledge of the superhero genre with the language of literary theory so as to join seemingly disparate worlds and to better inform the reader how comic book narratives have built upon and referenced one another throughout the history of their development. -Children's Literature Association Quarterly
Exceptional --Today's Books
A book like this is way overdue. I m just glad someone finally had the balls to write it. Joe Casey, writer of Wildcats and Automatic Kafk
Exceptional Today's Books
. ..a fascinating exegesis of superhero comics, outlining how the main movement of the genre since its inception has been toward self-cannibalization, which some have chosen to call metafiction...he does a pretty good job explaining why they are what they are and why they're never likely to really ascend to anything else. An entertaining's nice for a change to see comics taken seriously as subjects of literary criticism. We could use more of it.
The strengths of the book are the many [...] connections made to literary and psychoanalytical figures, the attempt to explain the metamorphosis of a new type of superhero comic, and a close reading of the comic books used to support the book's thesis. The book does add new dimensions to the much-overworked subject of superhero comic books. Choice, May 2002 & May 2003
Author Bio
Geoff Klock is the author of How to Read Superhero Comics and Why (Continuum, 2002) a study guided by Harold Bloom's poetics of influence. After getting a Masters degree in English he spent two years studying literature as a night security guard. He was then admitted to Balliol College, Oxford. His doctoral thesis there, Imaginary Biographies: Misreading the Lives of the Poets, focuses on Romantic poetry and its extensions through the 20th century- specifically poetry's bizarre and idiosyncratic portrayals of historical writers (e.g. Virgil in Dante's Divine Comedy). This work will be followed by a complementary study of the same device in popular culture, (e.g. Johnny Depp's portrayal of William Blake in Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man).
Geoff Klock is twenty-seven years old, and was raised in Texas, where he attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. For more information visit his website at