Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon (Comics Culture) (Paperback)

Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon (Comics Culture) By Ian Gordon Cover Image
Possibly out of print. Email or call to check availability and price.


After debuting in 1938, Superman soon became an American icon. But why has he maintained his iconic status for nearly 80 years? And how can he still be an American icon when the country itself has undergone so much change?

Superman: Persistence of an American Icon examines the many iterations of the character in comic books, comic strips, radio series, movie serials, feature films, television shows, animation, toys, and collectibles over the past eight decades. Demonstrating how Superman’s iconic popularity cannot be attributed to any single creator or text, comics expert Ian Gordon embarks on a deeper consideration of cultural mythmaking as a collective and dynamic process. He also outlines the often contentious relationships between the various parties who have contributed to the Superman mythos, including corporate executives, comics writers, artists, nostalgic commentators, and collectors.     

Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of Superman’s appearances in comics and other media, Gordon also digs into comics archives to reveal the prominent role that fans have played in remembering, interpreting, and reimagining Superman’s iconography. Gordon considers how comics, film, and TV producers have taken advantage of fan engagement and nostalgia when selling Superman products. Investigating a character who is equally an icon of American culture, fan culture, and consumer culture, Superman thus offers a provocative analysis of mythmaking in the modern era.


About the Author

IAN GORDON is an associate professor of history at the National University of Singapore. His books include Comic Strips and Consumer Culture, Comics and Ideology and Film and Comic Books.

Praise For…

"With a fan's instincts and a scholar’s passion, Ian Gordon delivers a highly readable and insightful treatment of the comic book and cinematic Superman, the most American of superheroes."
— Viet Thanh Nguyen

"This is the most thoughtful and thoroughly researched study about one of the most iconic characters of the last century. Ian Gordon – Superman expert – has produced a stellar book on Superman: his history and significance in popular culture; his cross-media and cross-generational reach; and his continued mythic significance for global culture. This is a must read for academics and fans alike!"
— Angela Ndalianis

"This startling new study brings a new perspective and shows us Superman as a process: a shared, and often fought-over, element of American culture. The next time I teach on Superman, or superheroes in general, this will be my go-to book."
— Charles Hatfield

"Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon is an interesting read and well worth the time for any Superman fan interested in the character’s past, his growth, his icon status and his success over the years."
— supermanhomepage.com

Included in The Top 75 Community College Titles: September Edition
"This is not just another superhero study; it is one of the most comprehensive, well-thought-out analyses of the Man of Steel. Concisely packed, this book covers all dimensions of Superman: mythos, history, ideology and morality, object of nostalgia, production, authorship, ownership, audiences, and brand. Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon is extraordinarily rich, the analysis is meticulously conceived and implemented, and the writing is clear and interesting, spiced with anecdotes, asides, and quotes."
— John Lent, Temple University

"Highly recommended for scholars, nerds, and casual fans."
— The Journal of American Culture

"The book is not only a crucial new resource for anyone interested in the history of Superman, but also an important contribution for the way it situates comics in general, and superheroes specifically, within a broader culture."
— The Journal of Comics and Culture

"Gordon displays his considerable skills as a media historian...[A] fine book."
— Inks

"Superman at 80," by Karen McCally
— University of Rochester

"For a real insider look at what makes Superman tick be sure to pick up a copy of this book.  It looks like superman will be around for a very long, long time."
— Collector's Corner

"A fun read that can appeal to the casual reader as well as academic scholars and students. His thread of 'iconic status' is woven throughout the book to tie all of the chapters together well. As a result, this book offers a solid overview of the history of Superman while approaching the material with some new insight and interesting examples that will appeal to a variety of readers looking to learn more about not only the Man of Steel—but why his character has thrived for over 80 years."

— Journal of American Culture

Product Details
ISBN: 9780813587516
ISBN-10: 0813587514
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: February 13th, 2017
Pages: 200
Language: English
Series: Comics Culture