4:00 PM Laurel Hall, Room 302, Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-9057 to reserve a seat
SHE-HULK and THE CITY
by ROY T. COOK
Unlike DC Comics’ superheroes like Superman and Batman, who live in, and fight crime within, fictional cities such as Metropolis and Gotham, the superheroes of Marvel comics are not only city-dwellers, but inhabitants of a real city: New York. The use of New York (and, in fact, for the most part Manhattan) as the setting for the vast majority of Marvel’s superhero stories does not merely add a sense of realism to these comics by locating these fantastic adventures in a real-life setting, in addition, the fact that these characters live in New York adds a substantial metafictional aspect to a great many of their stories. New York is not only a real city, but it is the very city within which Marvel comics are published. Marvel Comics has used a number of metafictional strategies including inserting both the company, its well-known creators and editors, and other New York luminaries into their stories. This significantly complicates the relationship between what is fictionally true of these superheroic characters and what is actually true of their producers and consumers. In this talk Cook will look at a character and comic that is particularly rich and fruitful in this regard: John Byrne’s early 1990’s run on Sensational She-Hulk. He will detail how the subtle interactions between the fictional world that the She-Hulk inhabits, the actual city within which these comics are produced, and the very real and very intentional overlap between the two, complicates and enriches our understanding of how fiction works within serialized narrative art.
Roy T. Cook is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and Resident Fellow of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science. He has published over fifty articles and book chapters on logic, the philosophy of mathematics and the philosophy of art (especially popular art). He co-edited The Art of Comics: A Philosophical Approach (Wiley-Blackwell 2012) with Aaron Meskin, and is the author of The Yablo Paradox: An Essay on Circularity (Oxford University Press 2014) and Paradoxes (Polity 2013). He is also a co-founder of the interdisciplinary comics studies blog PencilPanelPage and hopes to someday write a book about the Sensational She-Hulk. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife, their cat Mr. Prickley, and approximately 2.5 million LEGO bricks.