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“Changing Depictions Of Nyc: Comics & Graphic Novels”

2212 words - 9 pages

New York City is frequently presented in various mediums. Graphic novels, comics, and movies have portrayed the city in many ways. There is “gritty” New York, “whimsical,” “realistic,” and dozens of other portrayals. New York is the birthplace of American comic books and both DC and Marvel, the two largest comic book publishers, are based in New York. In fact, the city is present in 13,249 different comic books or graphic novels. So why is NYC a perfect setting for comics? It is because of the iconic locations within NYC, its cultural influence in America, and the city’s diversity, which allow for numerous interpretations that can connect to readers. Graphic novels and comics can present ...view middle of the document...

Also, in another panel, New York is depicted atop an apple, which is equated with paradise. (44) As Quinn walks into a train station and views the people, he muses about how easily it is to get lost in the crowd. As people exit the train, the number of people again overwhelms him. The storefronts in the city are closely packed and hotels are located right next to restaurants and tax services. (55) Many scenes either take place in New York parks, diners, apartments, or other public areas. This realism presents a good contrast to the more unrealistic portrayals that Quinn sees in his mind, which serves to complement the atmosphere and story.
The graphic novel Marvels, published by Kurt Busiek in 1994, shows a transition of NYC as superheroes are discovered. NYC is a great setting because it is full of people and is constantly busy; there is almost never a dull moment. It represents an ideal American city that faces destruction on a near-daily basis through the fight scenes that play out in iconic New York landmarks. What Marvels does is present NYC landmarks that never change; the heroes, villains, citizens, and situations are the ones changing. Tension between superheroes and normal citizens is also highlighted, presenting social issues to the reader. It starts by focusing on one of the first superheroes discovered in 1939 and slowly extends to the modern age as more heroes are discovered. Beginning in 1939, Doctor Phineas Thomas Horton creates a man with the use of science. Upon being exposed to air, this man bursts into flames, is recognized for his special ability, and eventually adopts the persona of “The Human Torch.” Dr. Horton showcases his creation to the public, but they scorn the man and demand that he be locked away. After this incident, Newsboys are seen peddling newspapers, a typical job for children during this time, with the headline of “Fire-Man.” These scenes are colored with grays, beige, and black, showcasing antique cameras that still required separate sources of light. Fedoras and newsboy hats adorn the heads of the public and everyone is smartly dressed in a suit and tie or designated working uniforms. This presents a different era, one in which NYC was skeptical of change and the unknown in a simpler time.
In the next panel, six men are seen casually smoking cigarettes and talking about World War II going on in Europe at the time, wondering when the United States will enter the fray. Phil Sheldon, a photographer and the main character, mentions that he wants to go to Europe and become successful by taking pictures of the war, so he can provide the American dream to his girlfriend. He wants to have a small house in Queens, with a picket fence, and a comfortable lifestyle that many Americans seemed to crave during this time period. Eventually, he is seen sitting in a typical 1940’s era diner, and is told another story of superhumans, whom people have named “marvels.” Conflicting images of them are presented, showing...

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