Comics, Security, and the American Mission

Comics Security event image

November 4, 2022
10:00 am - 4:00 pm


Mershon Center, Derby Hall Room 1039
154 N Oval Mall
Columbus OH 43210

Comic heroes were born amidst the tumult of World War II and became pillars of the American century. They reflected the muscular interventionism central to postwar nationalism even as soapy personal dramas internalized an ambiguity toward war, empire, and domestic society felt by writers and their often youthful readership. These seemingly contradictory impulses have defined the comics medium, even as the ubiquity of pulp adventurism in contemporary media drives a new era of US-led cultural globalization. The conference will explore this history by bringing together nationally renowned specialists on foreign affairs and political messaging. It will ask how government priorities shaped four-color responses to global conflicts, and to what extent disruptive events like the Vietnam War challenged their ability to stand for truth, justice, and the American way? Did the late Cold War and 9/11 revive patriotic narratives? And how have multimedia adaptations handled the long evolution of iconic characters while addressing contemporary matters ranging from the War on Terror to new political divisions? These discussions will consider how comics and pulp adventures inform popular narratives of conflict, insecurity, and heroism, and what their long history reveals about cultural attitudes toward U.S. power.

View the full schedule for the November 4 conference here: CONFERENCE SCHEDULE



Paul S. Hirsch, University of Texas, Austin
Christina M. Knopf, SUNY
J. Richard Stevens, University of Colorado Boulder
Brian Rouleau, Texas A& M University
Gregory A. Daddis, San Diego State University
Zaynab Quadri, George Washington University
R. Joseph Parrott, Ohio State University

Support provided by the Mershon Center for National Security, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, the History Department, and the East Asian Studies Center.