Almost every child dreams of becoming a super hero. There is something about wearing a suit like Batman or Spiderman that makes a young person feel powerful, as if he or she has the same super-human abilities like the ones in the comics or in the movies.
At the Ina E. Gordy Honors Forum held April 18, comic book industry veteran Bill Rosemann, who is responsible for creating iconic superhero stories and characters, made a visit to The W.
Bill Rosemann’s career began as a reporter for his college’s newspaper. He was referred by a man who worked for Marvel, and 20 years later he has become the stuff of legend as the mastermind behind the characters we have grown to love.
His presentation entitled, “Superheroes On and Off the Page,” was an inspiring message that taught us real heroes exist among us, and how fictional characters can help us become superheroes in real life.
“Comic books are a perfect marriage of text and art together,” said Rosemann. “Graphic novels stay with us, and are the most democratic form of artwork and read by all levels of society.”
Super heroes had such a great following because they had amazing powers, a moral code that was used to help others, a mask that kept them from receiving the credit, and motivations we can all relate to.
“Another neat contribution that comics brought to the readers is that the creators used comic books to talk about topics that mattered to America,” said Rosemann.
Superman came on the scene during the great depression. He was the social activist of that time and was greatly concerned about the issues that America was facing. He fought against unfair landlords and abusive husbands. He was also the face of immigration and assimilation.
Batman was not the God among heroes; rather he sacrificed his own humanity for the good of the people.
"Captain America developed before World War II as a way to create a response of what America wanted, but wasn’t ready to do,” said Rosemann. “Captain America was the symbol of nationalism, and the character was used to show the strength and the will of America.”
Marvel’s “birth age of comics,” began with the introduction of the Fantastic Four. They became the first superhero team produced by Marvel. Unlike other superhero teams, the Fantastic Four was family. This allowed readers to connect with the characters in a whole new way because they could relate to the family dynamic. They no longer chose to wear masks that hid their identity. Instead, they showed the world who they were and, as a result, they became the famous celebrity heroes.
The character Spiderman, which is celebrating his 75th anniversary, became the perfect teenage metaphor and revolutionized the idea of the super hero. Spiderman came at a time after the war when college students began to protest and question authority in America.
The comic X-men was a result of the Civil Rights Movement. The mutants represented the minorities because they were hated and feared because of their abilities, but they still wanted to show their value and uniqueness. This comic dealt with the issues of racism and diversity. Professor X represented Martin Luther King and Magneto represented Malcom X. Magneto wanted war and wanted them to be separate by any means necessary.
“Comics talked about serious topics that impacted lives. Comics created buffers that made it easier to talk about stuff because the more you talk, it may change things,” said Rosemann. “We use comics as life lessons.”
Other characters such as, Thor, Ironman and Black Panther were created to bring light to current problems during that era.
Rosemann’s point throughout the presentation was for students to realize that they too can become a super hero for others.
“Anyone can be a hero, whether in a big or small way. First you have to realize what your skill is, what you can do, decide and act,” said Rosemann. “The real hero is you.”