A close inspection of comic-book lovers and their ever-expanding culture
What are super-devoted fans of comic books really like? What draws them together and energizes their zeal? What do the denizens of this pop-culture world have in common?
This book provides good answers
as it scrutinizes the fans whose profiles can be traced at their conventions,
in pages of fanzines, on websites, in chat-rooms, on electronic bulletin
boards, and before the racks in comic-book stores. They are a singular
breed, and an absorbing interest in comic books (sometimes life-consuming)
Studies have shows that the
clustering, die-hard disciples of Star Trek have produced a unique culture.
The same can be said of American enthusiasts of comic books. These
aficionados range from the stereotypical "fanboy" who revels in the minute
details of mainstream superhero titles like X-Men to the more discriminating
(and downright snobbish) reader of idiosyncratic alternative comics like
Eightball. Literate comics like Watchman, Radioactive Man, and Peepshow
demand a knowledgeable audience and reward members of the culture for their
expertise while tending to allienate those outside. This book shows
how the degree of "comics literacy" determines a fan's place in the culture
and how the most sophisticated share the nuanced history of the format.
Although their interaction
is filled with conflicts, all groups share an intense love for the medium.
But whether one is a Fanboy or a True Believer, the preferred hangout is
the specialty store. Here, as they talk shop, the culture proliferates.
They debate among themselves, spread news about the industry, arrange trades,
discuss collectibles, and attach themselves to their particular mainstream.
With history, interviews, and
textual analysis Comic Book Culture: Fanboys and True Believers examines
the varied reading communities absorbed by the veneration of the comics
and demonstrates how each functions in the ever-broadening culture.
Matthew J. Pustz is an adjunct professor of American studies at the
University of Iowa