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Superhero Masculinity: A Conversation with Artist, Writer, and Comic Book Enthusiast Stephen M. Jones*

22 Nov
Stephen M. Jones at the Foxwoods Theatre, Home of “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” (Source: Stephen M. Jones)

Stephen M. Jones at the Foxwoods Theatre,
Home of “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark”
(Source: Stephen M. Jones)

Deconstructing expressions of idealized masculinity, particularly heterosexual masculinity, in pop culture heroes has in many cases become an exercise in illustrating the ways in which hypermasculinity continues to be the preferred model of gendered behavior for boys and young men in the United States.  On the surface, the heroes of graphic novels simply reek of hypermasculinity; male superheroes are teeming with muscles, agency, sex appeal, and confidence.  An awkward reporter can transform into Superman.  A shy scientist becomes a massive Hulk.  However, for many fans this popular reading of idealized masculinity fails to capture the appeal of comic books superheroes.  Superheroes struggle with their identities, emotions, and choices in the same ways as those without super powers.  I recently sat down artist, writer, and comic book enthusiast Stephen M. Jones to discuss ways in which classic and contemporary comic heroes reinforce and challenge cultural notions of masculinity.

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