Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Scaring the Dickens Out of Batman: Victorian Literary Conventions in 21st Century Comics

The following is a proposal for a conference paper I'm working on. It hasn't been accepted yet, but I plan to submit to a couple of different places to look at the topic at varying levels of detail. Feedback, as always, is appreciated.
Lee Bermejo's Batman: Noel retells Charles Dickens' iconic A Christmas Carol using characters and settings belonging to the DC universe. While the practices of writing a comic based on a work of literature or adapting Dickens' Christmas story aren't particularly new, that Bermejo chose this work and this comic should be noted.

A Christmas Carol is the most famous work of a long forgotten genre. Christmas Crawlers were Gothic stories published around the holiday as a chilling and entertaining way to pass the season. They date back to Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, a ghost story published on Christmas Eve 1764, and include the works of other prolific writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson.

Knowing this, does Bermejo's November adaptation qualify as a lost, 19th century literary genre simply because of its source material? Or is Batman: Noel a spectre of Christmas future?
Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?


Marc said...

This seems like a really interesting topic! Do you plan to discuss any other comics in addition to Batman: Noel? I'm sure there are quite a few in the character's history, and probably a number featuring other superheroes as well. If memory serves, even Spider-Man had a few.

At any rate, let us know which conference you'll be going to, if your proposal gets accepted. Perhaps I'll see you there!

Ben Villarreal said...


I'll probably just stick with Noel since I want to basically do a close reading, but I could see expanding it to other comics in the future.

And I'll definitely brag should I get accepted :-)


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