[Book Review] The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture by Glen Weldon

the-caped-crusade-glen-weldonTitle: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture
Author: Glen Weldon (Twitter)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Genre/Category: Nonfiction, Batman, Comic Book
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Order Here: AMAZON  (PAPERBACK)| AMAZON (KINDLE) 

Note: This review was originally written for a graduate level course I took last semester where we had to write a review for a scholarly book that was related to our thesis. As this book actually inspired my current thesis project (about queer readings of a queer-coded Joker and the role that homophobia plays in these readings), I couldn’t pass up on the chance to review this book.


A regular panelist on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, Glen Weldon is probably the best author that could have ever been drafted to write a book about how Batman’s creation shaped the development of nerd culture and fandom as it exists right now.

His book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture seeks to put Batman into a certain cultural context, looking at the way that the character’s history has shaped generations of fans, comic and film creators, and the fans that would grow up to become these creators. Weldon looks at how, over the course of the past seventy-seven years, Batman and nerd culture have participated in certain cycles that alternated between “camp and cheery” and “grim-dark and gritty”.

In The Caped Crusade, Weldon approaches the heterocentric canon of Batman’s various texts through a perspective that only a gay man can bring to the table. In his close queer reading of Batman’s history, canon text throughout the decades, and the fan community (or fandom) that sprawled up around him, Weldon looks at how queerphobia shaped Batman’s trajectory and inspired hundreds of thousands of fans to eschew the very idea of a queer Batman while queer fans clung to the potential opened up for them by the subtext embedded within the character.Read More »

Searching for Real Love: My torrid love affair with Golden Age romance comics

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Page01_AllRomances001I love the Golden Age of comics.

Crime comics.

Horror comics.

Offshoots of the pulps that never quite got big.

You name it, I probably love it. I grew up in a household that was always nerdy but in different ways.

My parents are old. My dad was born in 1939 and my mom in 1948. For some reason, despite all the odds, they ended up together in 1990 and then like 9 months later I popped out.

They weren’t interested in whatever was new on television (except for the soap operas), but made sure that I had access to stuff that they liked as well as stuff that was slightly more age appropriate.

Instead of growing up with Star Wars and Star Trek, I grew up with soap operas. I grew up with the 1960s Batman show. I grew up able to hold my own in discussions on Westerns. And of course, there were the comics.

The comics were my mom’s fault (but my dad was a huge fan of the Flash and original Green Lantern). She grew up on a different island than my dad did and spent her teen and young adult years in New York living a very interesting life. Her experience was relatively less focused on religion and so she got into the post-code horror comics like it was her job. She passed that love of romance and horror comics down to me and I’m definitely going to be blaming her for my fascination with them.Read More »

#tbt – Pulp Fiction: The Spider

Originally this was supposed to be a simple #tbt focus on a specific book but really, it wound up being kind of a love note to the pulps.


the spider 11I got into The Spider because of The Shadow. 

I have about fifty episodes of the original radio drama (starting in 1937) in my Audible library. Mostly because you can get 5 episodes for about $3.50 and every so often the price drops to half off and I went a little wild during one of the big sales.

Now after I had my fill of the radio drama, I went looking for the original pulps for The Shadow. Unfortunately, my google-fu sucks. I wound up on RadioArchives.com and immediately fell for The Spider. Issue #11 (the first issue I bought) which has the full-length story “Prince of the Red Looters” is free for the kindle on Amazon.

Created by Harry Steeger in 1933 as a direct competition to the Shadow’s incredible success as a pulp hero, the Spider shares so much in common with the Shadow that I’m wondering why I couldn’t find any reports of injunctions or lawsuits going out from Street & Smith Publication. (You know, the way that National Publications did over Will Eisner’s Superman knockoff, Wonder Man in 1939.)Read More »

#tbt : Seduction of the Innocent – Chapters One + Two

#tbt or ThrowbackThursday is a weekly series where I write about things from history — primarily comic or film history. For the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about Frederic Wertham’s infamous book Seduction of the Innocent and going through the chapters with insightful and slightly snarky commentary. (Chunks of it will read like a research paper but then, those have always been my favorite things to write!)


soti.jpgEveryone that has even a drop of interest in comic books and comic book history has heard about Dr. Frederic Wertham and his book Seduction of the Innocent. He’s the big bad of comics history, the reason why we had the Comics Code Authority, the reason why, to some, comics just aren’t as good as they could’ve been.

Wertham is referenced in nearly single paper, book, and documentary on comic book history. You can’t escape references to him or his crusade against comic books. However, many people that are interested in comic books haven’t actually read Seduction of the Innocent.

I don’t blame them.Read More »