90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Wham! Wow!: DC Comics at 75

By Tom Ashbrook

The superheroes of the comic book world have worked their way deep into the American imagination – and managed to hang on. They’ve been attacked and celebrated, and they’ve gone to Hollywood and Broadway.

This year, DC Comics, which created Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and many others, is celebrating 75 years of comic book publishing – from the first grainy, grinning, all-new format in 1935.

Paul Levitz, former publisher of DC Comics and a longtime writer for many of its most enduring characters, says comic books are our society’s way of creating myths. And they help us play out universal human feelings and aspirations.

“It’s a natural human reaction to dream of what it would be to being empowered, to be able to solve things that you can’t otherwise,” says Levitz, whose new book is 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking. “The dilemmas that we face in the world – whether it’s the economy or what’s going on in our lives, our jobs, our personal lives – all are things that we wish we had more control over, more ability to affect. And the great superhero characters all reflect some element of that.”

DC Comics has also created such memorable characters as Lex Luthor, The Joker, Robin, and The Green Lantern, and Levitz is celebrating the whole long list. He says the characters often embody a very compelling human longing.

“The fundamental fantasy of Superman – that Lois would realize that I’m an incredible person if she could look past my glasses and just see my inner Superman – that’s so basically human,” Levitz tells On Point. “How many of us have had that feeling at some moment, when we wish the other person would just get us?”

Guests:

Paul Levitz, a 38-year veteran of DC Comics. He was president from 2002-2009, and he’s now a contributing editor. During his decades at DC Comics, he has written most of the classic DC characters, including Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman. His new book is “75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking.”

Charles Henebry, lecturer of rhetoric at Boston University’s College of General Studies. He is a longtime comics fan and has written extensively on the place of comic books in popular culture.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 23, 2014
Cindy Cook holds a photo of her mother, former Rep. Alice Cook Bassett, at her home in Calais, Vt., Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Cook took care of her mother in December when she decided to stop eating and drinking to put an end to her life. (AP)

A bipartisan report says medical care at the end of life needs a big overhaul. One bioethicist says, “After 75, no major interventions. Let me go.”

Sep 23, 2014
Levon Aronian, of Armenia, right, moves during his match against Hikaru Nakamura, of the United States, in the sixth round of the Sinquefield Cup chess tournament Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP)

A young grandmaster just did the impossible at a top chess tournament. No one paid attention. Does chess still matter?

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 22, 2014
Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue in New York during the People's Climate March Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP/Jason DeCrow)

Big climate protests in New York before a big UN summit. Activist and author Naomi Klein says change the economy or die. She’s with us.

 
Sep 22, 2014
President Barack Obama gestures during a statement in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Washington. Obama spoke after Congress voted to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State group. (AP/Evan Vucci)

A tough, critical examination of US plans to take on ISIS. Strategy in the hot seat.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 19, 2014
Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Lots of big, contentious topics on the show this week — from Zionism to early education, corporal punishment to development in the Grand Canyon.

More »
Comment
 
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Comment