Classics and Comics (Classical Presences)
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Since at least 1939, when daily-strip caveman Alley Oop time-traveled to the Trojan War, comics have been drawing (on) material from Greek and Roman myth, literature and history. At times the connection is cosmetic-as perhaps with Wonder Woman's Amazonian heritage-and at times it is almost irrelevant-as with Hercules' starfaring adventures in the 1982 Marvel miniseries. But all of these make implicit or explicit claims about the place of classics in modern literary culture.
Classics and Comics is the first book to explore the engagement of classics with the epitome of modern popular literature, the comic book. This volume collects sixteen articles, all specially commissioned for this volume, that look at how classical content is deployed in comics and reconfigured for a modern audience. It opens with a detailed historical introduction surveying the role of classical material in comics since the 1930s. Subsequent chapters cover a broad range of topics, including the incorporation of modern theories of myth into the creation and interpretation of comic books, the appropriation of characters from classical literature and myth, and the reconfiguration of motif into a modern literary medium. Among the well-known comics considered in the collection are Frank Miller's 300 and Sin City, DC Comics' Wonder Woman, Jack Kirby's The Eternals, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and examples of Japanese manga. The volume also includes an original 12-page "comics-essay," drawn and written by Eisner Award-winning Eric Shanower, creator of the graphic novel series Age of Bronze.
enters both Lucretia’s room and her body, and Livy and Ovid both focus lavishly on the knives as they pierce Lucretia’s and Verginia’s flesh (Richlin 1992, 172)—here the paradigmatic Roman act of war and imperialism also defies natural and national boundaries. By setting borders for the empire and preventing further expansion, an act that supposedly dooms Rome, Augustus is also symbolically resisting his own rape. Boundaries are important, both in space and time. By ending the 181 182 D r awi
shows. The first front is found in the comics themselves: Writers simply started writing more serious and more intelligent stories to appeal to a wider audience. The year 1986 was a watershed (as described in the introduction to this volume). Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns were published in that year and brought the concept of the “graphic novel” to the public consciousness, though both were initially published in serial format. The phrase had already been in use
cause in itself. The gods and goddesses of Wonder Woman not only exist as real entities but also make their approval of contemporary political entities and support for specific values felt directly through their superhero standard bearer. Thus, by the summer of 1942, it probably came as little surprise when she appeared on the cover of her own self-titled magazine not only in her familiar red, white, and blue costume but also leading a charge of Allied soldiers into the German lines astride a
modern social systems.17 There are two main features of Thermopylae that Dwight sees reflected in his own situation: choosing the correct battle site and facing off against a larger enemy. According to Dwight, at Thermopylae “the Persians find their numbers useless,” while in Old Town “[the mob’s] numbers don’t count for so much.”18 Yet just after he establishes this resonance, Dwight creates a subtle undercurrent of disjunction, a tone that will dominate the rest of his commentary, by describing
Persians are described as dying with “barbarian” grief and lamentation (111–13, 151) and as servile (166) and prostrating themselves (157–58, 189). See Timotheos of Miletos, Fr. 790; see also Hall (1994). 8. Aristotle, Politics 7.1327b3–37. Later, Plutarch (Lives of Artaxerxes, Cimon, Themistocles, Alexander, and Lycurgus; Apothegmata Laconica) and Diodorus Siculus (Bibliotheca 11–14) added to the polarized depiction of the noble Spartans and the degenerate Persians. P er s i a ns i n Fr an k