Urban Images in Comic Books: Representation of Metropolis and Gotham in the Late 1930s

By Marina Vieira.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Cities are the products of collective human actions that combine physical structures and sociabilities. The comic genre of superhero destines a major role for the cities. They become more than mere environments or backgrounds for the development of narratives. The metropolis and its problems require the need for the existence of superheroes. The intent of this study is to examine the image of the cities of Metropolis and Gotham in its context of creation, the respective cities of Superman and Batman, both born in the late 1930s. We understand by the term “city image” as the social representations that incorporate not only visual images, but the symbolic and cultural dimensions of the urban imagery. The image of a city embraces its physical structure as well as its aesthetic and cultural dimension. The two cities studied here represent urban antagonistic conceptions since Metropolis is a modern city focused on progress, while Gotham has a chaotic and nocturnal atmosphere. These conceptions are found in distinct urban discussions that permeated the urban theories of the 1930s. This paper combines perspectives in the field of anthropology of the image, urban planners and urban sociology as a way of basing the analysis of images and representations production of these respective cities in comic books.

Keywords: Urban Imagery, Urban Representation, Comic Books

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.45-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.875MB).

Marina Vieira

Post-Graduation Program in Social Sciences (PPCIS), University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Bachelor of Social Science at the Federal University of Sergipe (UFS) and masters of the Post-Graduate Program in Social Sciences, University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). Has experience in the field of Sociology and Anthropology, with emphasis in Urban Sociology and Visual Anthropology. Operates on the following subjects: urban gentrification, cultural heritage, comics and urban imaginary. Received from the CNPq, in 2006, the Distinction Award of the Year in Scientific Initiation of UFS - Area of Humanities and Social Sciences.