Subjective Ramblings and Peripheral Thoughts from the Edges of a Comics Studies Project
My recent article on Marvel’s District X, published in the latest issue of The Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (vol. 2, issue 1-2) is now available open access, which means that anybody can just click here and download it. The summary I had to write to got with it reads like this:
This article studies the ‘imaginative mapping’ of a real-world neighbourhood in one comic book series: lower Manhattan’s Alphabet City in writer David Hine and artists David Yardin and Lan Medina’s District X (July 2004–January 2006). In contrast to a long-standing claim to ‘realism’ in Marvel’s use of New York City, this article argues that the real Alphabet City – at the time a contested and rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood – is nowhere to be found in District X, replaced by a voyeuristic fabrication, a sensationalistic node of concentration for middle-class fears about urban decline and blight amid prosperity and contemporary discourses about drugs, crime and homelessness that reproduces long-standing cultural representations of the neighbourhood as different and inferior. In doing so, the series polices a boundary of identity, empathy and imagination and tells readers that force in favour of clearing out radical difference in the neighbourhood and making it into a space fit for ‘normal’ people is natural, rational and logical and in the best interest even of those who might be displaced by gentrification, disproportionately incarcerated in the name of ‘law and order’, or put at risk of their lives in dangerous shelters.
I promise the article itself is a little less dense. Feel free to have a look.