Judson Professor Terrence Wandtke Authors New Book on Comic Book Culture
(ELGIN, IL - September 13, 2012) Dr. Terrance Wandtke, professor of literature and media studies at Judson University, has authored a new book "The Meaning of Superhero Comic Books" published by McFarland and Company Publishers this June.
"My latest book tries to address why superhero stories work like modern mythology, appealing so much to readers within the context of our new media culture and our digital era," explains Wandtke. "Working with the theories of Walter Ong and Marshal McLuhan, I demonstrate how superhero stories are tied to the psychology producing and produced by the graphic design of comic books and other related media."
For decades, scholars have been making the connection between the design of the superhero story and the mythology of the ancient folktale. Moving beyond simple comparisons and common explanations, "The Meaning of Superhero Comic Books" details how the workings of the superhero comics industry and the conventions of the medium have developed a culture like that of traditional epic storytelling. It chronicles the continuation of the oral/traditional culture of the early 20th century superhero industry in the endless variations on Superman and shows how Frederic Wertham's anti-comic crusade in the mid-1950s helped make comics the most countercultural new medium of the 20th century. By revealing how contemporary superhero comics, like Geoff Johns' “Green Lantern” and Warren Ellis's “The Authority,” connect traditional aesthetics and postmodern theories, Wandtke's book explains why the superhero comic book flourishes in the "new traditional" shape of our acutely self-conscious digital age.
Wandtke is also the editor of the collection “The Amazing Transforming Superhero: Essays on the Revision of Characters in Comic Books, Film, and Television,” also published by McFarland.” His current project is “The Dark Night Returns: The Resurgence in Noir Comics,” forthcoming for RIT Cary Graphics Arts. Topics of his recent seminars and publications include Watchmen and postmodern heroism and the influence of Jewish authors on the graphic novel.
In his role as Communications Professor at Judson, Wandtke teaches courses in comic books and graphic novels and visual art and new media. His scholarship analyzes the connections between 20th century literature, film, and new media and his recent research focuses on the heroic tropes associated with comic books and television series. The founder and director of the Imago Film Festival at Judson, Wandtke has served on the selection committee for the St. Louis International Film Festival’s Interfaith Award and on the jury for the Elgin Short Film Festival.
"The Meaning of Superhero Comic Books" can be purchased on Amazon.com or McFarlandBooks.com.