Introduction to Popular Culture and Graphic Novel:
Popular culture also known as pop culture when put in simpler terms translates to “the culture of the people.” It mainly consists of the cultural elements that are common in any given society, mainly using the more popular media, in that society’s vernacular language and/or an established lingua franca. It results from the daily interactions, needs and desires and cultural ‘moments’ that make up the everyday lives of the mainstream population. It can include any number of practices, including those pertaining to cooking, clothing, mass media and the many facets of entertainment such as sports and literature. Popular culture often contrasts with a more exclusive, even elitist “high culture”. If culture is regarded as a way of defining oneself, then it requires coming off as appealing to masses and persuading them to get invested in it. People like to feel and be identified as a part of a group and to understand their cultural identity within that group, which tends to happen naturally in a small, somewhat isolated community. Mass culture, however, lets people define themselves in relation to everybody else in mass society at the level of a city, a country or an international community.
“Pop Culture-although big, mercurial, and slippery to define-is really an umbrella term that covers anything currently in fashion, all or most of whose ingredients are familiar to the public-at-large. The new dances are a perfect example… Pop Art itself may mean little to the average man, but its vocabulary…is always familiar.” (Steinem, Gloria. Outs of pop culture, in LIFE magazine, 20 August 1965, p. 73 quotation)
The term “graphic novel” has come to mean different things to different people. To some, it is a marketing construct designed to give comic book publishers better representation on the shelves of large bookstores. To others, it is an attempt to set apart comics content that is intended for a mature audience. Graphic novel is a term for a kind of comic book, usually with long and fairly complex storylines and often aimed at more mature audiences. However, the term is not strictly delimited, and can be notoriously difficult to pin down. It is often used to imply subjective distinctions in artistic quality between graphic novels and other kinds of comics which can be quite controversial. Graphic novels often encompass several separate issues of comic books and can be published over a period of several months or years and then republished in larger volumes. The term ‘graphic novel’ was coined by fan historian Richard Kyle in an essay in the November 1964 issue of the comics’ fanzine Capa-Alpha. The term gained popularity in the comics community after the publication of Will Eisner’s A Contract with God (1978) and the start of Marvel’s Graphic Novel line (1982) and became familiar to the public in the late 1980s after the commercial successes of the first volume of Art Spiegelman’s Maus in 1986 and the collected editions of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns in 1986 and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen in 1987. The Book Industry Study Group began using “graphic novel” as a category in book stores in 2001. As the exact definition of the graphic novel is debated, the origins of the form are open to interpretation. Some in the comics’ community have objected to the term “graphic novel” on the grounds that it is unnecessary, or that its usage has been corrupted by commercial interests. Writer Alan Moore believes,
“It’s a marketing term… that I never had any sympathy with. The term ‘comic’ does just as well for me… The problem is that ‘graphic novel’ just came to mean ‘expensive comic book’ and so what you’d get is people like DC Comics or Marvel Comics—because ‘graphic novels’ were getting some attention, they’d stick six issues of whatever worthless piece of crap they happened to be publishing lately under a glossy cover and call it The She-Hulk Graphic Novel….”(Kavanagh, Barry (October 17, 2000). “The Alan Moore Interview: Northampton / Graphic novel)
The Creation of Wonder Woman:
William Moulton Marston
William Moulton Marston also known by the pen name Charles Moulton was an American psychologist, who also was the inventor of an early prototype of the lie detector, self-help author, and comic book writer who created the character Wonder Woman.1 Marston’s character was a native of an all-female utopia of Amazons who became a crime-fighting U.S. government agent, using her superhuman strength and agility, and her ability to force villains to submit and tell the truth by binding them with her magic lasso.16 After her name “Suprema” was replaced with “Wonder Woman,” which was a popular term at the time that described women who were exceptionally gifted, the character made her debut and first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941. Wonder Woman next appeared in Sensation Comics #1 (January 1942), and six months later, Wonder Woman #1 debuted.16 Except for four months in 1986, the series has been in print ever since. The stories were initially written by Marston and illustrated by newspaper artist Harry Peter. During his life Marston had written many articles and books on various psychological topics, but his last six years of writing were devoted to his comics’ creation of Wonder Woman.
“Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world” (Hendrix, Grady (December 11, 2007). “Out for Justice”. The New York Sun.)
In a 1943 issue of The American Scholar, Marston wrote:26
“Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, and peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”
Marston went on record by describing bondage and submission as a “respectable and noble practice”. However, not everything about his creation was explicitly explained in any one source, which caused confusion among writers and fans for many years.