I always love panel events because it can be much more of an organic conversation between panellists, bringing up themes and topics that might not otherwise be heard. I was especially excited about Capes and Tights because, well, firstly it’s about comics, and secondly, the speakers are all excellent people. The session did not disappoint.
Discussion began with an exploration of each speaker’s initiation into comics (Tintin and Asterix being the main offenders), and then their first experience within the realm of the superhero.
Damon Young confessed being drawn as a teenager to the rage and violence of characters such as Ghost Rider, the Punisher and Batman, whereas Dylan Horrocks and Jonathan King were both fans of the fun and absurd superhero comics of the 60s. Karen Healey was a relative latecomer to superhero comics, becoming fascinated with comics such as Kingdom Come at university despite an initial difficulty breaking into the genre as a reader.
Dylan Horrocks asked the panel for their opinion of the “dark and gritty” reboot of many characters, and the fetishization of violence in the superhero canon (comics often being produced with sponsorship by or advertising for the US Army and Air Force). Comments ranged from an appreciation of the way in which physical violence can be paralleled by verbal argument, to the disappointing flattening of a character consumed only by darkness.
Karen Healey brought up the problematic trend of fridging female characters and bemoaned the lack of a Black Widow movie (seriously, when will it happen? We’re ready), which segued into a discussion on copyright and our collective ownership of these characters.
Superhero comics are basically fanfiction. The writers, the artists are all fans of these characters and are creating stories in response to that history, but they have no legal ownership of that material.
All agreed that it is time for DC and Marvel to let “their” creations fall into the public domain, to be used as modern myths (à la Robin Hood or King Arthur) without threat of legal action.
What superpower would you most like to have?
The teenager inside me would say mind control, because that would just be incredibly useful, but I think I’d like physical invulnerability.
At first I thought telekinesis, but then time-travel because imagine how much time you’d save on research!
I’ve always dreamed of flying, so I think I’d have to go for that.
And Dylan Horrocks opted for invisibility.
- Search our catalogue for superhero comics
- Learn more about Dylan Horrocks and comics in Journey to Hicksville
- Read more WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival posts
- Our page on WORD Christchurch