Join the Smithsonian, and comic book industry legend, the late Stan Lee, in this self-paced course to explore the history of the comic book and the rise of superheroes.
The ancient gods of Egyptian, Greek and Roman myths still exist, but today, they have superpowers, human foibles and secret identities. They come from comic books and graphic novels, and have taken over pop culture on the stage, screen, video games, and animation.
From Superman® and Spider-Man®, to The Avengers® and The Hulk® and beyond, who are these heroes? And, how have they evolved from folklore and myth, across all cultures and religions?
Learn from Smithsonian and industry experts including:
- The late Stan Lee, who was one of the creators of the modern superhero template. His early comics featuring Spider-Man, Iron Man®, The Hulk, Thor®, and The Avengers led Marvel to success. He continues to reinvent himself to create modern global superheroes and appear in cameos in superhero films and TV, such as Avengers: Age of Ultron.
- Michael Uslan, executive producer of top grossing, award winning movies, including The Dark Knight series, Lego® Movie, the animated Batman films and Batman® VS Superman.
In this self-paced course, we explore the following questions:
- Why did superheroes first arise in 1938 and experience what we refer to as their “Golden Age” during World War II?
- Why did the superhero genre ebb and flow in popularity over the decades?
- How have comic books, published weekly since the mid-1930’s, mirrored a changing American society, reflecting our mores, slang, fads, biases and prejudices?
- Why was the comic book industry nearly shut down in the McCarthy Era of the 1950’s?
- How did our superheroes become super-villains in the eyes of the government, clergy, educators, and parents of the mid-20th Century?
- When and how did comic books become acceptable again, and eventually become valid teaching tools in universities and schools?
- When and how did comic book artwork become accepted as a true American art form as indigenous to this country as jazz?
- Finally, when and how did comic books become “cool” and the basis for blockbuster movies, hit TV series, top-selling video games, and acclaimed animation, while also impacting fashion and style- and even the moral and ethical codes of children- around the globe?
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is excited to offer the opportunity to go into the collection and see why superheroes are a dominant cultural force in today’s world.
As you learn about how cultural myths, world events, and personal experiences shaped the first superheroes, you will apply these frameworks to create your own superhero– or you can choose to do a deeper analysis on existing comic book heroes. This original project is required for certification and anything created by you as part of this self-paced course is the intellectual property of you and you alone.
At last, fans, students and seekers of knowledge have the opportunity to enroll in the ultimate comic book course.
- The history and origins of the first superheroes and comic books, and how they changed over time
- The evolution of American society from the Depression to today, as viewed through the lens of the comic book genre
- How the current globalization and diversity of the next generation of superheroes impacts our storytelling across all mediums
- How to apply historical examples to create superheroes for the present day
Stan Lee is known to millions as the man whose Super Heroes propelled Marvel to its preeminent position in the comic book industry. His co-creations include Spider-Man, The Avengers, X-Men, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, as well as hundreds of others. He introduced Spider-Man as a syndicated newspaper strip that became the most successful of all syndicated adventure strips and has appeared in more than 500 newspapers worldwide. Stan currently remains Chairman Emeritus of Marvel, as well as a member of the Editorial Board of Marvel Comics.
Stan is currently the Chairman & Chief Creative Officer of POW! Entertainment, a multimedia entertainment company based in Beverly Hills, CA, which he founded with production partner Gill Champion & the late intellectual property specialist Arthur Lieberman. POW! has debuted several titles in the publishing sphere, including Solider Zero, Traveler, and Starborn with Boom Comics, Stan Lee and the Mighty 7 with Archie Comics and Genius Brands International, and Romeo and Juliet: The War with 1821 Comics. Stan has been involved in creating five feature film scripts, including Annihilator _with Magic Storm Entertainment and _Prodigal. He is also involved with the creation of a live action musical called Yin and Yang: The Battle of Tao. He recently released his first-ever Indian superhero, Chakra: The Invincible, which debuted on Cartoon Network in India and can be watched on the Rovio ToonsTV app, and is currently working on the creation of a South American superhero franchise.
Dr. Michael Uslan is a Professor of Practice at the Indiana University Media School. He is the Executive Producer of many award-winning movies, including Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice; The Lego Movie; and The Dark Knight Trilogy: Batman Begins; The Dark Knight & The Dark Knight Rises. He is also the Executive Producer of a wide range of TV movies, animated TV Series, and documentaries. He won an Emmy Award for “Best Animated Series” with his production of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? ®
Dr. Uslan was the instructor of both the first accredited college course and correspondence course on comic books (Indiana University 1971), and the author of the first textbook on comics, The Comic Book In America. He has authored a wide range of books and graphic novels, including, America At War- A History Of War Comics; Mysteries In Space- A History Of Science Fiction Comics; Best Of Archie; The Comic Book Revolution, and his memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman. _He worked with his friend and mentor, Stan Lee, on many comic books, including their most recent initiative, _Just Imagine.
Dr. Uslan has served on many advisory boards, including the Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership, the Association of Film Commissioners International, the Center for Excellence in Education, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the recipient of the World’s first Doctorate of Comic Books, Monmouth University 2012, and also has a JD from Indiana University School of Law; M.S, Urban Education, Indiana University School of Education; and BA, History from Indiana University.
David Uslan began his career even before graduating from college as an intern with D.C. Comics, Walter Cronkite’s production company and Wild Brain Animation Studios. After graduating from Indiana University in 2002, Mr. Uslan joined International Creative Management (ICM). In late 2003, armed with a passion for comic books, history, and creative development, Mr. Uslan went to work for his mentor and father, Michael Uslan, where he assisted in developing and producing films including Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Constantine, Catwoman, National Treasure, The Spirit, _upcoming _Doc Savage _and many more. After twelve years, he still runs development for the family business, whose recent credits include the successful _Lego Movie with the sequel and spin-off film Lego Batman in production now.
In 2007, Mr. Uslan became a partner in the formation of COG1 Entertainment, a digital interactive production and marketing company. As Senior Vice President of Development, he was responsible for selecting, acquiring and developing properties for feature film, television, gaming and digital outlets. During the fall of 2009, David came on board as Vice President of Business Development for Graphicly, a revolutionary digital publishing, conversion, and distribution company. Graphicly has partnered with over 12,000 top comic book and graphic novel publishers, mainstream publishing houses, and many small press and independent companies, to help produce, convert, as well as distribute their content across a wide range of eBook, mobile, web, and desktop platforms in new, socially interactive ways. In 2014, Uslan began working with Blurb, one of the largest self-publishing companies, helping them move into the mainstream entertainment space.