Wundervölker, Monstrosität und Hässlichkeit im Mittelalter (German Edition)

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As much of the scholarly discourse surrounding the Cold War argues, the terrifying, yet awe-inspiring, reality of atomic power and weapons affected nearly all aspects of American popular culture. He argues that the oft-maligned and sometimes forgotten cultural form created a space for ordinary citizens to wrestle with the complexities of the atomic age in the twentieth century.

Comics helped make the nuclear age explicable to a curious public overwhelmed by the reality of atomic power and weapons.

In three chronologically arranged sections, he describes how this occurred throughout the twentieth century. Chapter 1 details how science fiction and comics writers easily dramatized the unseen world of atoms through the adventures of characters like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, championing the world such science promised to bestow, as scientists and science writers struggled to explain the complexities of atomic science to curious audiences.

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Chapter 2 focuses on the content of comics during World War Two, when such utopianism waned as atomic weapons became a reality. The government censored most public discussion of atomic weapons, but the lowly status afforded to comics allowed them to explore such issues with minimal restrictions. Part 2 examines the ways comics approached the atomic age inaugurated by the bombings with a combination of enthusiasm and anxiety, celebrating atomic possibilities in an attempt to contain the very real threat they posed.

Because these were largely unpopular with readers, publishers turned to adventure stories with new and established characters--such as Atoman, Captain Marvel, and Superman--who fought villains who used atomic power towards nefarious ends. Chapter 4 explores common atomic-themed subgenres, such as the spy narrative, linking the world of atomic power to Cold War political concerns.

Atomic comics : cartoonists confront the nuclear world / Ferenc Morton Szasz - Details - Trove

Part 3 examines the long-range impact of the nuclear world on comics, highlighting the emerging critique of atomic power and weapons that Szasz suggests first appeared in the s. In this chapter, Szasz importantly broadens the American focus of the book and thinks transnationally, exploring the antinuclear comics of Japanese writers and artists.


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Chapter 4 brings readers to the contemporary era, and identifies traces of atomic culture in well-known series and characters, such as Spiderman, whose power derives from an atomic spider bite. No contribution is too small.

Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World

But Atomic Comics is ultimately about the collective role played by a far broader range of American comics and how they shaped public opinion on the complex scientific subject of nuclear physics. As additional subatomic discoveries followed rapidly, and theories underlying quantum physics emerged, the American comics industry and popular science press developed in tandem.

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Richard F. Voluntary and official censorship policies soon developed in an effort to keep nuclear subjects from science journals and the news, and Superman twice bowed to censorship demands during World War II.

Cashbaugh on Szasz, 'Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World'

But the comics industry continued to explore atomic themes as characters such as Spacehawk, Rocket Kelly, and Airboy harnessed atomic power to good ends, while others battled atomic weapon-wielding villains or even manifestations of nuclear power. Szasz sees such efforts as contributing to what historians have noted was a remarkably quick public comprehension of the potential of atomic physics, and of associated arcane subject matter.

That kind of reach made comics a natural fit for post-war attempts to further educate the public. Dagwood Splits the Atom , which included a foreword from the former chief of the Manhattan Project, used Dagwood and Blondie to deliver an exposition of atomic energy and advocate science careers for young readers. Later, public education comics such as the If an A-bomb Falls and the The H-bomb and You offered advice for surviving the aftermath of atomic and hydrogen bombs. But the history of comics so often is the story of tempered power, of the broader fears that surround mass media.

Numerous forces — including public burnings in America and a British parliament ban on American comic books — helped push forward the development of the Comics Code Authority, a self-regulatory body that effectively censored against vampires, sympathetic criminals, the glamorous portrayal of crime, etc.


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