Ian Gordon (historian)

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Ian Gordon is Associate Professor of American history at the Department of History, National University of Singapore, Singapore. He writes on comic strips and comic books and film and television.[1]


Ian Gordon earned his PhD in History at the University of Rochester. He is perhaps best known for his books Comic Strips and Consumer Culture and his more recent Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon.[2] In addition to these books he has published Kid Comic Strips: A Genre Across Four Countries and three co-edited books including The Comics of Charles Schulz and Film and Comic Books and numerous articles. He writes a blog History Futures on an occasional basis. In 2015-16 he offered a Superhero Entertainments MOOC through the Coursera platform.

Comic strips and consumer culture[edit]

Gordon uses comic strips to make an argument about American culture. He says that comic strips were one of the first forms of truly national culture, by which he means people all over the country read them on the same day, and so had shared experiences, and that this happened on a widespread basis as early as 1908. He also ties comic strips to transformations in advertising styles, and not just the comic strip advertising style of the 1930s but the generalized use of more images in advertising as the twentieth century progressed. The book even has a chapter on the beginnings of comic books, which is a useful short overview and has good information on the early Superman. On 11 April 2011 he created an online version of the book.

The Journal of American History said: "Gordon has done historians a service by recognizing the importance of popular visual sources as important clues to understanding American culture. And the book is not only informative but fun to read."

American Journalism said: "a must read for any scholar interested in the question of popular culture."

Partial bibliography[edit]


  • Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2017).
  • Kid Comic Strips: A Genre Across Four Countries. (New York: Palgrave, 2016).
  • Comic Strips and Consumer Culture, 1890-1945. (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998). Paperback edition 2002.
  • The Comics of Charles Schulz: The Good Grief of Modern Life. co-edited. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2017).
  • Film and Comic Books. co-edited. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007)
  • Comics and Ideology. co-edited. (New York: Peter Lang, 2001).


  • “Refiguring Media: Tee shirts as a site of audience engagement with Superheroes,” The Information Society, 32.5 (2016): 301-305.
  • "The Moral World of Superman and the American war in Vietnam," Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 6.2 (2015): 172-181.
  • "Comics, Creators, and Copyright: On the Ownership of Serial Narratives by Multiple Authors," in The Companion to Media Authorship, eds. Jonathan Gray and Derek Johnson (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2013).
  • "Superman as Icon," in Icons of the American Comic Book, eds. Matthew Smith and Randy Duncan, (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2013).
  • "Writing to Superman Towards an Understanding of the Social Networks of Comic Book Fans," Participations, 9 (November 2012): 120-132.
  • "La bande dessinee et cinema," in La bande dessinee: une mediaculture, ed. Eric Maigret and Matteo Stefanelli. (Paris: Armand Colin, 2012).
  • "Culture of Consumption: Commodification through Superman: Return to Krypton," in Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods, eds. Matthew Smith and Randy Duncan. (New York: Routledge, 2011). Chapter 11.
  • "Smallville: Superhero Mythos and Intellectual Property Regimes," in The Smallville Chronicles: Critical Essays on the Television Series, ed. Lincoln Geraghty. (Lantham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2011): 89-108.
  • "In Praise of Comic Books as History: Joseph Witek and Comics Scholarship," in Graphic Subjects: Critical Essays on Autobiography and the Graphic Novel, Michael Chaney ed., (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2011): 244-246.
  • "Let Us Not Call Them Graphic Novels: Comic Books as Biography and History," Radical History Review (Winter 2010): 185-192.
  • "Making Comics Respectable: How Maus helped Redefine a Medium," in The Rise of the American Comics Artist: Creators and Contexts, ed. Paul Williams and James Lyons, (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010): 160-167.
  • "Blockbuster Meets Superhero Comic, or Art House Meets Graphic Novel?: The Contradictory Relationship Between Film and Comic Art," (with Matthew P. McAllister and Mark Jancovich,) Journal of Popular Film and Television, 34 (Fall 2006): 108-114.