Like the phoenix rising from the ashes so it is with the super heros of old. The question this
article will attempt to shed a little light on is WHY? Why the resurgence of the likes of
Superman, Batman, Ironman, the Hulk, Green lantern, and even Captain America. Most super
heros were created in the 1930s during the depression, a time of no jobs, and no confidence in
the government. Hmm, sound familiar? Stan Lee, creator of spider man, the hulk and Captain
America told me, yes I spoke with Stan the man, (well actually E mailed with him). That, ‘back
in the day, they couldn’t keep comic books containing the exploits of Super heros on the racks’,
he said, ‘they practically flew off’.
In research for this article I talked to several octogenarians, and a couple of folks in their seventh
decade. All but one waxed nostalgic about the masked crusaders. The single holdout said he
thought the super heros were silly, but as a kid the stories gave him goose bumps. When I
pressed him, he said it was the way they put an end to corruption, that he liked. He said, he lived
in a Hooverville just South of Portland (in the early 1930s a shanty town was named after then
President, Herbert Hoover) He went on a bit, and said, he wished “one of them Heros would
have taken out that *&#!, President Hoover. Note* It was believed by many at the time, that it
was President Hoover that allowed America to slip into the Great Depression.
Some of the adults I talked to, that would admit, they still read comic books, said it was pure
nostalgia. That they enjoyed the stories and the pictures, the same as when they were kids. Others
said getting into the exploits of super heros was escapism. Hmm, escape from what?
About thirty years ago I had the privilege of interviewing Shirley Temple, at the time she was
Shirley Temple Black, and ambassador to Ghana. Long story short, she said the only thing that
made her films so popular was the depression. She said, people were trying to escape from the
reality of unemployment and poverty.
I decided to go straight to the home of the Super Heros, DC Comic and Marvel Headquarters but
they didn’t answer. Hmm, must be off fighting crime, or something to do with East coast time
and they’d all gone home.
Anyway you slice it super heros are back, and for what ever reason, men and women, young and
old are watching the movies and picking up comic books. But that’s not the end of the story.
When these crusaders rose from the ashes they brought a new format, the Graphic Novel. These
books are about 130 pages and like comic books have stories that can raise goose flesh, but the
illustrations are a step up from the typical comic pictures. Several of the people I talked to said
they just couldn’t bring themselves to pick up a comic book but could really get into a Graphic
Okay, you’re tired of the political bickering, banks that don’t care about their patrons, and CEO’s
who make millions and millions while the middle class shrinks. There is hope, and just perhaps,
an outlet for your frustration. So, on those rare occasions, when nobody is looking, and you turn
your face to the heavens and shake your fists maybe it’s time to pick up a comic book, graphic
novel or take in one of the half dozen super hero movies, and cheer on that masked crusader as
he rids the government of corruption and crushes the forces of evil.
Kit Crumb owns and operates the Ashland FItness Studio. He’s a published author and is
currently seeking an illustrator to help turn his latest own Super Hero, Black Rose, into a Graphic