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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, February 2, 2015


Before going on to the next phase of my current project, I want to respond to a suggestion made in the comments section of TAKING STOCK OF 2014.

Correspondent AT-AT Pilot expressed interest in seeing more studies of comics with reference to both mythic analysis and the NUM theory. I responded in the comments that I was thinking about doing something more with "myth-comics," but I should devote a little space here as to how the NUM theory works out with respect to comics.

First thought: it's a lot easier for any medium dealing with "drawn" characters-- and that includes comic strips and animated cartoons-- to invoke the marvelous, that level of phenomenality that allows for absolute freedom. Media that communicate via living actors will of necessity always be more limited, though the process of CGI-- which could be said to "draw" images real enough to mingle with live actors-- has leveled that playing field somewhat.

I'm sure that as a young watcher of fantasy-movies, I had often considered the gulf between what many live-action movie implies would be a really scary monster, and the unhappy reality. I just reviewed one of the worst, 1958's WOMANEATER.

In his first COMICS JOURNAL interview, Steve Gerber put it down to the fact that the fact a comic-book artist could draw whole armies of aliens and weird creatures with nothing more than a pen and ink, while even a well-funded movie had to exert a lot more time and money to make such scenes come to life-- though I think he admitted that STAR WARS had bridged the gap considerably.

At any rate, prior to the 1970s a lot of metaphenomenal cinema, especially but not only in the genre of horror, sought to evoke thrills with the tropes of "the uncanny."  As I've mentioned elsewhere, an awful lot of my ten tropes invoke situations most associated with horror-films, though such ideas as "perilous psychos" and "weird families and societies" aren't limited to that genre.  I suspect that in comic books, the most-used uncanny trope is that of "outre outfits, skills, and devices," since American comics were quick to pick up on those tropes as they appeared in pulp magazines.

Now, one can FIND these tropes in comic-book stories, and I've been giving some consideration as to which comics-stories might be the best exemplars of each trope. But it isn't always as easy to access a comics-story as it is to check out a film that some online pundit has reviewed. In other words, there's no Netflix or Youtube for comic books.

The only online resources for comic books are those blogs where the blogger has devoted time and trouble to reprinting entire stories. The best example known to me is PAPPY'S GOLDEN AGE BLOGZINE, which began in 2006.  Here, for example, is the first story I found that he posted that involved the "outre outfits" trope, a tale of the superhero known as "the Face," whose only "super" aspect was-- as the dialogue below establishes-- the ability to scare people with his hideous fright-mask.

This is a pretty fair story of its type, but there's not a whole lot to analyze in it. Whenever I find time, though, I'll take a shot at finding other online stories that might lend themselves to NUM-analysis.

But now, back to the other project.

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