Since their inception, comics have been considered “low culture.” Comics have their roots in political cartoons, which were targeted toward those who could not read the newspaper. They were for poor communities with little access to education. Comics are accessible, popular, and affordable, and thus have been deemed less worthy of consideration in the world of high art and literature. That is also why they are the best.
In his very first appearance in Action Comics #1, Superman defends a victim of domestic violence and spares a woman from the death penalty by going to the home of the Governor, who can grant her pardon, and presenting him with the evidence of her innocence. In one of the most recent issues of Action Comics, the people of Metropolis are holding a peaceful protest when they are approached by police in riot gear shouting at them to disperse. When the police fire tear gas into the crowd and the situation escalates, Supes shows up and makes it clear that the protestors are his people and they are protected.
Superman has always defended the disenfranchised.
In their best moments, that is what superhero comics are and what they can do. They speak directly to people who aren’t valued or taken seriously by society or those in positions of power. In my personal experience, superhero comics have provided a gateway to literacy and an inspiration for my interest in social justice. That is why there is no shame in my comic-book-loving game.
For the entire month of November, Free Library staff will be embracing our so-called “guilty pleasures” without embarrassment! Join in and show us your pride for whatever you’re reading, watching, or listening to by snapping a photo with the hashtag #FLPNoShameNovember. We’ll feature your photos on our social media accounts and curate a list of the now-shameless titles!