From Smallville to Metropolis: Navigating Space and Place in Comics and Their Adaptations

(Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Lisa Perdigao (Florida Institute of Technology)

Scott Bukatman writes that “The experience of the city (and the comic book) is less one of static order than dynamic negotiation” (174), particularly in the superhero genre. Many superheroes are identified with specific cities (Superman’s Metropolis, Batman’s Gotham, Spider-Man’s New York City, Arrow’s Star City, and the Flash’s Central City) and neighborhoods (Daredevil and Jessica Jones’ Hell’s Kitchen, Luke Cage’s Harlem, and Iron Fist’s K’un-Lun, Manhattan, and Chinatown). As Lisa Gotto notes, “Being capable of transcending the laws of physics, superheroes move through space in a special way” (47), remapping the city and their relationship to it. Additionally, the superhero’s city is often defined in relation to suburban landscapes that occupy both margins and centers of the narrative frames. The adaptation of comics offers an additional reorientation of space and place on the big and small screen. This panel seeks papers exploring the ways that cities and towns are depicted in comics and/or their adaptations. Papers may concentrate on the superhero genre or examine other representations of cities and towns such as Sin City, Riverdale, and iZombie’s Seattle.

This panel seeks papers exploring the ways that cities and towns are mapped and renegotiated in comics and/or their adaptations. As they "move through space in a special way” (Gotto 47), superheroes suggest distinct ways of viewing, experiencing, and negotiating urban and suburban landscapes. Papers may focus on superhero narratives or works in other genres (e.g., Sin City, Riverdale, iZombie, The Walking Dead, and Fun Home).