Monday, October 19, 2009

Superheroes on display at UO comics exhibit

From the Oregonian
EUGENE -- Ben Saunders is all too familiar with the stereotypes associated with comics and superheroes.

There's the moldy oldie: Comics are "funny books," suitable only for kids.

The next version: Comics are trivial because they're only about superheroes, i.e., men in tights. Snicker.

And the most recent, highfalutin' edition: Comics are an art form, sophisticated, complex and varied, so anybody who brings up superheroes is an unenlightened boob who clearly doesn't get it.

Saunders, however, does get it. The University of Oregon associate professor of English thinks it's high time superheroes were rescued from their low-prestige status in the comics pantheon.

"In the last three years," as Saunders says, "comic studies has grown as an emergent discipline within the academy. And a lot of attention has been placed on what you'd call 'comics lit,' the Art Spiegelman version of the form." Spiegelman is the former underground comics creator who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for "Maus: A Survivor's Tale," his comic book memoir of the Holocaust.

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