Mike Madrid presents The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of the Comic Book Heroines, an exploration of what it means for the culture when superheroines do everything the superhero does, but in thongs and high heels.
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The superheroes of the comic book world have worked their way deep into the American imagination – and managed to hang on. They’ve been attacked and celebrated, and they’ve gone to Hollywood and Broadway.
This year, DC Comics, which created Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and many others, is celebrating 75 years of comic book publishing – from the first grainy, grinning, all-new format in 1935.
Paul Levitz, former publisher of DC Comics and a longtime writer for many of its most enduring characters, says comic books are our society’s way of creating myths. And they help us play out universal human feelings and aspirations.
“It’s a natural human reaction to dream of what it would be to being empowered, to be able to solve things that you can’t otherwise,” says Levitz, whose new book is 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking. “The dilemmas that we face in the world – whether it’s the economy or what’s going on in our lives, our jobs, our personal lives – all are things that we wish we had more control over, more ability to affect. And the great superhero characters all reflect some element of that.”
DC Comics has also created such memorable characters as Lex Luther, The Joker, Robin, and The Green Lantern, and Levitz is celebrating the whole long list. He says the characters often embody a very compelling human longing.
“The fundamental fantasy of Superman – that Lois would realize that I’m an incredible person if she could look past my glasses and just see my inner Superman – that’s so basically human,” Levitz tells On Point. “How many of us have had that feeling at some moment, when we wish the other person would just get us?”
The Backroom team spends the entire episode discussing the recent changes to DC’s comic lineup and the long-term implications it creates.
Since the debut of Superman in Action Comics in 1938, fans have been thrilled by the adventures of the Man of Steel. In his book Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, comic book geek Glen Weldon explores the evolution of the superhero in comics, radio and small and large screen.