There’s a new reality show airing on February 11th. Comic Book Men will take viewers into the“sacred geek temple” of a retail comic book store. Kevin Smith, comic book writer and film producer, is the brains behind the show. The storyline revolves around the four guys who work in the store and who also model for Smith’s comic book characters.
The show features an all-male cast, which has received criticism because of the lack of females. Smith acknowledges that both women and African-Americans are both under-represented in comics and sees this as something that needs to change. He also points out that non-geeks can feel alienated when they enter a retail comic store. He hopes his new show will make mainstream America more comfortable with the comic industry.
youtube, Mingchen, Jan. 1, 2012
According to a recent survey by DC Comics, males make up 93% of its readers. Blogger Henry Hanks, a contributor on CNN Geek Out!, confirms that there is an entire culture of geeks out there who thrive on the characters and stories contained in comics. We saw an example of this in the video we watched in class about the geek collector.
Todays’ comic books contain the same stereotypes that readers encounters in the 1940s – females with big boobs, and males with huge muscles. The storylines haven’t changed either – men in capes are still rescuing helpless women. In the book, The Ten-Cent Plague, David Hadju, takes the reader through the history of comics and helps decipher the intense attraction many have towards these books.
The comic industry as a whole is suffering economically and the hope for this show is that it will expose non-geeks to the art of comic collecting and increase readership.
The year was 1975 and I was 12 years old when Mood Rings were popular. I remember wearing mine to junior high school and comparing the color to the rings of my friends. According to the brochure that came with every ring, you could determine the mood of the wearer based on an interpretive chart. Everyone wished for a violet-blue ring which signified happiness and romance.
Josh Reynolds and Maris Ambats were the inventors of the Mood Ring. They chemically bonded liquid crystals in a hollow glass shell and mounted the stones into rings. The crystals would react with your body temperature and turn colors.
youtube, uploaded by futsang on Aug. 4, 2011
The rings were sold everywhere, from gas stations to department stores. You could get a ring for as little as five dollars. According to blogger Mortal Journey, a million dollars worth of these portable biofeedback aids were sold in a three month period during 1975 by the entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, they went bankrupt because of failing to patent their idea and imitators soon saturated the market. On page 50 of our coursebook, Gary Cross credits the rise in American manufacturing and the radical transformation of marketing after the Civil War, with abundant opportunities for retailers.
According to the article by Rick Kogan, the mood ring was seen as a symbol of control for a shifting culture. Increased self-awareness and the popularity of group therapy during the mid-70s, contributed to the craze for these rings. The jewelry gave the wearers a chance to display their emotional state to others. By wearing the ring, a person supposedly felt a sense of control over their emotions. I think mostly it was a fun fad that could not be taken too seriously.
This is the course website for Rebecca Onion's American Studies seminar at the University of Texas at Austin, convened during the spring semester of 2012. You can see the website for last semester's version of this course at this link.