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Opening Monologues: The Comics and Superheroes Show

The following is a transcript of the opening monologue I do at the top of each show on WGN Radio. My show, the Saturday Night Special, is a single-topic program on which I discuss one topic all night. This week, on the heels of the release of the “Wonder Woman” movie, I discussed comic books and superheroes.

(Listen)
Tonight on the Saturday Night Special, we’re doing what we always do: taking what seems like a simple and straightforward topic and looking at it from many angles, and, invariably, realizing how the given topic of the night is perhaps far more nuanced than originally thought.

And, tonight’s topic, given the release of the new Wonder Woman movie, is comics. But, before we think this topic a light one, think again. While on the surface it may appear to be all about crime-fighting wearers of capes and tights– Comics are both more socially and politically radical than you might think, and far more sophisticated.

Indeed, Underneath pages of speeding bullets, super tensile webs and a man who dresses as a bat, comics represent and address a variety of social ills, imagined revolutions, power shifts and as the expression goes, good triumphing over evil.

Through comic books we tackle our greatest fears both external and internal, reflecting a more just version of our world as a social mirror, however implausible such a utopia may seem from the present.

Just as Superman was a thinly veiled response to fasicsm in the 1930s, and zombies were a response to hyper-consumerism in the 70s and Wonder Woman in response to the patriarchy since, well, forever– all heroes are really just the versions of ourselves we wish we could be– to be super strong, to make people tell the truth, and to make justice prevail.

But comics aren’t all about being super– contemporary work reveals a pantheon of ordinary people doing everyday stuff, and overcoming a range of things from romantic angst to coping with annoying customers. But these characters are heroes all the same.

As iconic comics are made into films, comic book culture, once very subculture, is mainstream. The industry, a just-over-a billion dollar one as of this time last year, has grown and adapted into new platforms, new models, and new styles to rise to meet the modern consumer.
Tonight, we’ll look at this industry, why what resonates with us in a given time shows us what we value and fear, and talk to a few who know it best.

I’m Amy Guth and that’s all coming up tonight on the Saturday night Special on 720 WGN.

(Break for show opener music)

Tonight we are talking about comics— indeed the unassuming comic book is in fact filled with commentary on class, race, gender, oppression and even the daily angst of our lives. We’ll be talking with those who know the industry best by creating the stories we read, the places in which we read them, and who gives us context as they move from page to screen to bigger screen.

We’ll be talking with Katie Rife, film critic at the AV Club, Terry Gant, owner of Thrd Coast Comics here in Chicago, Gordon McAlpin, creator of the Mutliplex webcomic series, and withEisner award winnign celebrated writers, power couple Kelly Sue deConnick and Matt Fraction.

We’ll be right back to get the conversation underway, on 720-WGN.

(Listen to full show)