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Comic Arts

Comic books have been considered a staple of geek culture since the conception of the medium. It was two Cleveland area geeks, after all, who created the character of Superman in 1939 and officially launched the superhero genre. Pittsburgh’s ties to comic books is impressive, from Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko hailing from nearby Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to former Marvel Comic editor-in-chief Jim Shooter being raised in the Steel City. The aforementioned Spider-Man, meanwhile, visited Pittsburgh in 1987, as did Thor in the 1960s and The Avengers in 1980. Then there’s the ToonSeum, which features various comic book related exhibits throughout any given year. Artist Jim Rugg and writer Ed Piskor currently call Pittsburgh home, as do numerous other fans, creators, artists and writers, making the city an amalgamation of the different levels of comic book culture in the process.

 

Explorations of Comic Book Culture

The Birth of Superman Cleveland residents Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the first comic book superhero, using nothing more than their imagination and various influences from 1930s popular culture.

Jack Kirby and the Hero Initiative The legendary artist co-created the Marvel Universe during the 1960s, and his birthday is now celebrated with a Kirby4Heroes Campaign that benefits the Hero Initiative.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman In her 2014 biography, historian Jill Lepore chronicles the life of William Moulton Marston, and how his beliefs and experiences influenced the creation of Wonder Woman.

Will Eisner Week The legendary comic book creator left an indelible mark on the industry over the course of eight decades and is honored every March with events across the country and around the world.

 

Classic Comic Book Appearances

The Fantastic Four Meet the Beatles In a March 1965 issue of Strange Tales, the Human Torch and Thing from the Fantastic Four get sidetracked by a robbery on their way to a concert by the Fab Four.

Live from New York: It's Spider-Man! Stan Lee hosts an episode of Saturday Night Live while Spider-Man thwarts an attempt to retrieve a magical ring from John Belushi in a 1978 issue of Marvel Team-Up.

Tonight on David Letterman: The Avengers! Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Hawkeye and Black Widow, made a special appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in a 1984 issue of The Avengers.

Woody Allen and the Maniaks The legendary comedian teamed up with a fictional rock band in the December 1967 issue of DC Comics’ Showcase in order to stage a Civil War-themed Broadway musical.

 

Comic Arts Legends of the Pittsburgh Region

Matt Baker: A Golden Age Legend One of the first African American comic book artists was raised in Pittsburgh and made his mark during the 1940s and 50s with classic illustrations of female characters.

Jackie Ormes and African American Comic Strips The first African American woman cartoonist was born in the Steel City and found her greatest success within the pages of the Pittsburgh Courier.

Steve Ditko: The Co-Creator of Spider-Man Along with Marvel editor Stan Lee, the Pennsylvania native was responsible for one of the most legendary comic book superheroes in the history of the genre.

Jim Shooter: The Trouble Shooter of Comics The Pittsburgh native began his career as a writer for DC Comics at the age of fourteen and eventually rose to editor-in-chief of rival Marvel in the late 1970s.

 

Superhero Visits to the Steel City

Captain Marvel: The Man Who Inherited Pittsburgh Billy Batson and his superhero alter ego visited the Steel City in September 1944 to aid the elderly Josh Dovey against his scheming younger brother.

Shazam: Captain Marvel Fights the Man of Steel Billy Batson and his superhero alter ego returned to Pittsburgh in 1977 to face nemesis Doctor Sivana and his versions of both Joe Magarac and Superman.

The Avengers: Peril in Pittsburgh Exploration of the Avengers’ visit to the Steel City in 1980, including Captain America and Iron Man, and how the narrative ties to a previous stopover by Thor years earlier.

Scalphunter: The Devil's Pay In a 1980 issue of Weird Western Tales, main character Scalphunter journeys to Pittsburgh in 1862 but has difficulty accepting the contradictions of life in the Steel City.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Growing Pains Exploration of Peter Parker’s visit to Pittsburgh in 1987, Mary Jane Watson’s connection to the city, and Spider-Man’s battle with a Spider-Slayer on Mt. Washington.

Star Brand and The Pitt Within Marvel’s New Universe of the 1980s, Kenneth Connell receives the power of the Star Brand and inadvertently destroys his hometown of Pittsburgh, transforming it into The Pitt.

The Lonesome Death of Jack Monroe The life of the former masked crime fighter came to an end in Pittsburgh during the 2005 Captain America: Winter Soldier comic book series written by Ed Brubaker.

Alpha Big Time Exploration of the teenage exploits of Andy Maguire, the one-time superhero Alpha from The Amazing Spider-Man who lost his powers and moved from New York City to Pittsburgh in 2013.

 

The Contemporary Pittsburgh Comics Scene

Drawing Power: The Pittsburgh Scene A day-long series of panel discussions in April 2013 provided the opportunity for four local indie comic creators to discuss how they became involved in self-publishing.

Pat Lewis and Muscles Diablo The Pittsburgh-based illustrator discusses his 2013 Reuben Award nominated online comic as well as offers advice for others looking to make a career in the cartoon arts.

Vince Dorse and Untold Tales of Bigfoot The Pittsburgh-based illustrator discusses his 2013 Reuben Award nominated online comic, the webcomic medium in general and the artists who have inspired him.

 

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