Database for Animation Studies


The Fastest Man Alive: Stasis and Speed in Contemporary Superhero Comics

In the world of the superhero, action is everything. Focusing on DC Comic’s ‘Fastest Man Alive’, the Flash, this article examines the techniques used by comic book artists to animate the seemingly static images of superhero adventures. Taking its cue from superheroes’ success as the stars of recent action cinema, it takes cinematic theories of action and applies them to the comic page. The frozen poses of superhero splash-pages refute the supposed opposition of narrative and spectacle, while also bestowing perceptual mastery onto the reader. Superhero comics also use their elastic temporality — made possible by the peculiar spatial and temporal aspects of sequential art — for hyperbolic representations of the impossible. The Flash’s heroic feats are rendered through conceptual mechanisms for expressing motion existing within, and between, the panels.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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