The superhero’s so permeated our culture that it’s used in ways that once would’ve seemed heretical. Top: art critic and TV presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon’s BBC4 series Art Of America is trailed in the Radio Times of 19-25th November 2011. If memory serves, Graham-Dixon’s inevitably erudite, passionate and fascinating history of American art paid no attention to the humble comic book at all. A shame, for the thought of AGD discussing the four-colour past - rather than, say, Lichtenstein’s appropriation of it - is a beguiling one. (The illustration’s from a 2012 Radio Times, but to my shame, I don’t know the artist’s name.)
If an art historian can make for an unlikely superhero, then so too can the religious leader of 1.2 billion Catholics. The iconography that Siegel and Shuster first established has become so familiar that a skintight costume’s no longer needed to transmit the message. Here, a substantially sized, if somewhat inappropriate, fist, a foreshortened arm and a few speed lines have been used by Mauro Pallotta to turn an elderly head of state in SuperPope. Strange how even those publications which most often ignore, or even scorn, the genre in its comic-book form will reach enthusiastically for its traditions.
Finally, the deeply worrying Boris Johnson is cast as SuperBoris, from the cover of the 16/8/14 edition of The Week. I’ll hopefully be adding the artist’s name here soon, as I of course should. (Other cartoons featuring British politicians as super-people can be found here.)