Welcome to comics THORsday! Today we’re going to talk about the different genres that we can find in comic books. A genre is just a type of classification. Comics, like books and movies, are classified in different groups using as a base their similarities. Perhaps, one of the best known comic book genre is the Superhero genre. However, there are other interesting genres that I am sure you already know.
Let’s discover all of them!
I start with the Superhero genre because it’s the one I love. It began with Action Comics #1 where Superman debuted back in 1938. However, this genre got its inspiration from science fiction supermen like Frankenstein (1818), John Carter (1912) and Hugo Danner (1930). This genre also took inspiration from pulp übermensch like Nick Carter (1886), Tarzan (1912) and Doc Savage (1933). We can yet find another source of inspiration: dual identity vigilantes like Robin Hood (1377), Nick of the Woods (1837), Zorro (1919), the Green Hornet (1936) and the Phantom (1936) among others. [This is Peter Coogan’s classification of three main sources for the superhero genre, in The Power of Comics]
Not only this genre has very interesting sources of inspiration, it also has character types. Heroes will have a mission, fantastic abilities and weaknesses. Think about the pride of Thor or the addictive personality of Iron Man. It will also have sidekicks. Sidekicks are supporting characters that help the heroes. For example: Batman’s sidekick is Robin. We also have supervillains and recurring themes that will appeal audiences. Some might be as old as humanity, and others will just reflect the world of today.
In this genre we find comics like Archie! While the Superhero genre has traditionally appealed more to male audiences, teen humor has traditionally appealed more to female audiences. In the pages of these comics you can find funny situations like what happens to a teen when dating, or when he starts driving. It helps pre-teens discover a life that is soon ahead of them, while it lets teen have a laugh or two remembering, perhaps, their own adventures.
Romance comics were very popular right after WWII. They were concerned about dating, romance and marriage. The stories were highly melodramatic, and targeted a female audience. These comics were filled with stereotypes about how women should behave. At the time, most romance comics were created by men and not women! (Thus, stereotypes are not a surprise.)
This is the realm of Donald Duck. This genre focuses in making animals behave like humans. The process is called anthropomorphism. This technique allows the artist to reflect human nature onto animals and make of it. It can also easily convey good and bad behaviors to the audience.
Have you ever read Sandman or GhouLunatics? Then you know what horror comics are! Here we find the supernatural within the commonplace. Comics are great to tell horror and supernatural stories. No wonder you can find tons of comics of this gender.
Here we find stories about the authors themselves. One compelling comics that we can find within this genre is Maus. Graphic novels are ideal for the memoir genre. Some authors like to make caricatures about themselves to depict their story, while others prefer it to be realistic.
Even here we can find crossovers! Some are more compelling than others, but you can find real treasures here! For example, the Ghost Rider a Superhero x Western. These crossovers can be more or less successful, more or less funny.
Westerns. Stories about cowboys. This have faded away in time (audiences right now prefer Star Trek or Star Wars, let’s be honest).
Crimes. Exactly what the word suggests: it’s all about solving crimes, depicting crime activities, etc. These were really graphic.
Detectives! Do you remember Dick Tracy? Then you know what’s this all about: a detective and his adventures!
Educational. Here we find all types of comics that are used for educational purposes such as teaching about health, adaptations of great literature masterpieces, etc.
Kids. Does Little Lulu ring a bell? Yes! These are funny and innocent comics for kids. Lulu was quite a feminist by the way.
Science Fiction! Here we can find comics of Star Trek for example.
Underground comix. These were comics that wanted to make a stand and talk about social taboo, sexuality, etc. They defied the puritanical Comics Code.
Other genres that we might find: kung fu comics, movie comics, promotional comics, sword-and-sorcery comics, war comics.
Sources and recommended readings:
- Scott McCloud, “Understanding Comics, the Invisible Art,” William Morrow Paperbacks 1994.
- Randy Duncan & Matthew J.Smith, “The Power of Comics. History, Form and Culture,” Bloomsbury, 2015.
Copyright: Images on this post (C) depepi.com / Memes (C) by their owners.