Superhero comics began their career as an ephemeral form of popular entertainment in the late 1930s and early 1940s but have proven to be a lasting cultural phenomenon over the course of their more than 80 years of existence. With this longevity come questions of preserving the continuously sprawling genre past that take on special relevance in the digital age, when storing and displaying comics no longer necessitates ownership of the printed periodicals and when printed matter competes with electronic forms of preservation and representation. This talk takes a look at recent trends in the archiving of superhero comics and takes one particular format – the so-called museum-in-a-book publications of DC and Marvel comics – as the starting point for investigating larger questions of pop cultural memory in the digital age.
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Daniel Stein is Professor of North American Literary and Cultural Studies and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Siegen, Germany. He is the author of two books, Music Is My Life: Louis Armstrong, Autobiography, and American Jazz (University of Michigan Press, 2012) and Authorizing Superhero Comics: On the Evolution of a Popular Serial Genre (Ohio State University Press, 2021), as well as coeditor of several volumes on graphic narratives, including, most recently, Comics and Videogames: From Hybrid Medialities to Transmedia Extensions (Routledge, 2021). He is currently working on a monograph titled Strange Fruit and Bitter Roots: Black History in Contemporary Graphic Narrative (under contract with University Press of Mississippi).