Why comic books are not just for kids

I am currently taking a college honors course on sociology and english composition as a way to better understand Superheroes, and how they function within our society. As an English major I have always respected every form of writing and story telling from Plato’s Republic all the way down to comic books. Every form of story telling is powerful and has something to say if you just know where and how to look. It wasn’t until this course that I had begun to realize the stigma that was associated with the comic book industry. There seems to be a misconception that just because you are an adult that you must retire your comics and pick up an “adult book” no pictures, just words. Well, I have a message for those people! COMIC BOOKS ARE NOT JUST FOR CHILDREN!

In fact, we should be encouraging children and adults to read comics. They are a great lens when it comes to understanding the history of the time period in which they were written. For example, the Superheroes we know today such as Batman and Superman made their first appearance in the 1930’s as a way to connect with the people of the great depression. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were just two kids when they wrote about a man in tights from an alien planet. The early Superman fought crooked politicians and the people on wall street. Unexpectedly Superman had become a mascot for the people of the Great Depression. He emanated the values that were needed of that time period. A vigilante.

From here comics didn’t stop. Every comic book became a product of what the time period needed and what it valued. We can look at the 1930’s all the way up the 1980’s and tack the historical change in Superheroes and realize that this change was not just for the reader, but was also a reflection of history, sociology and many other academic disciplines that teach us about the plight of the human condition and the world we live in.

Not only do comics teach us about the world in which we live, they also inspire change. Ms. Marvel No Normal written by Willow Wilson exerted social and cultural power that broke through to a generation of teens. With the character, Kamila’s diversity we gave a voice to underrepresented minorities not only in the comic book industry, but in society as well. Ms. Marvel diffused the expected societal norms of society, but setting the notion in place that you can be whoever you want. That your religion, and ethnicity does not define who you are and will be as a person.

So the next time you are not sure what to read, pick up a comic book! It’s not just for children. Hey, you may even learn a thing or two.

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