Do Australian Superheroes Exist?

largethumbThat’s the question posed in an article by Naomi Kopp at Vibewire.org. Both myself and fellow PhD candidate, Amy Maynard (University of Adelaide), were interviewed for this story to provide insights about the historical development of Australia’s comic-book industry, and the current “state of play” for Australian comics, graphic novels, their creators and their audiences. Amy is examining how hard-copy (printed) comic books are currently produced in Australia, and her thesis will consider current publishing processes, funding models, marketing and distribution issues. As part of her thesis, Amy is also surveying Australian readers about their comics/graphic novel reading preferences, and their attitudes towards Australian comics.You can complete her survey – which is totally private and anonymous – here.

The title of the Vibewire article nonetheless poses an intriguing rhetorical question, especially when it comes to The Phantom. Several respondents to The Phantom Comic-Book Survey remarked that they considered “The Ghost Who Walks” to be a “domestic” comic-book hero, who in some ways reflected either their own country’s sense of national identity or character, regardless of whether they were Swedish, Indian or Australian. The perception that The Phantom was somehow an indigenous comic book was also influenced by the magazine’s physical format, distribution and overall appearance – the fact that these international editions of The Phantom did not superficially resemble imported American comics reinforced the idea that it was, indeed, a “local” comic-book.

(The accompanying image is of Captain Atom No.58, published by Atlas Publications [Melbourne, Australia], dating from circa.1952. Launched in 1948, the Australian version of Captain Atom was one of the country’s most popular comics of the post-war era, selling over 1 million copies in its first year of publication. Image courtesy of Comic Book Plus.) 

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