In my youth, I enjoyed collecting and reading comic books. For the most part, I enjoyed your typical super-hero pulp like Superman, X-Men, Batman and Daredevil. My love continued through my early twenties as I not only continued to collect but also work in various comic book stores. Eventually, comics took a back seat to other pursuits such as work and schooling. I sold my collection and bid farewell to what I believed to be a childhood relationship. Little was I to realize how wrong I was.
In late 2008, I learned that one of my favorite graphic novels was to be released in 2009. I went out and purchased a copy of Watchmen and reread it, this time, with the eyes of someone who had three degrees under his belt (Philosophy, Law and Information Science). I noticed the overtly legal theories of justice being portrayed by each character. I also noticed that these characters represented archetypes of comic book super heroes: Batman, Superman, the Question, Wonder Woman and the Atom. In a flash, it dawned on me that the heroes of my youth might be able to be used to explain different legal theories!
Working with another Law Librarian, I began looking at various academic sources to see if this work has been done before. Aside from some basic Law and Superman articles, we could find nothing. So, we read, took notes and came up with a presentation entitled Superheroes and the Law which we presented at a regional Law Librarian’s conference. The presentation was well attended with positive feedback from the audience.
While working on this presentation, which is a general overview, I discovered that there are many legal issues surrounding comics. Anywhere from law suits between publishers to copyright issues to legal symbolism in the comic books themselves. I found my niche!
I also found a reason to get back into comics. At first I started buying every damn thing. Then, slowly, I noticed I only looked forward to a small handful. Why buy the rest? Save some money and focus on the basics but pick up graphic novels as they come out.
So that's where I am with regards to comic books. I'm not a collector, but an admirer who is going to focus his academic career on them.