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"Half Gandalf, Half Mr. Kipling" : Paul Cornell at Marvel and DC

Flanagan, MJ "Half Gandalf, Half Mr. Kipling" : Paul Cornell at Marvel and DC , in: Transitions 5 (Conference), October 2014, Birkbeck University of London. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Paul Cornell’s work for the ‘big two’ U.S. publishers transfers a distinctly British (mainly, but not exclusively, English) sensibility into a field where the centre of cultural gravity, in terms of tropes and iconography, tends to be the USA. Cornell’s skills at writing fresh versions of thinly-drawn superheroes like Blade led to a run on one of Marvel’s leading titles, Wolverine (2013-14), and he has at various times been given the controls of Superman and Batman by DC. In a move encapsulating his authorial signature, DC gave Cornell the opportunity to imagine what English analogues of Batman and Robin would be like (in Knight and Squire, with artist Jimmy Broxton [2010-11]). Unlike earlier efforts of Marvel’s UK wing to work American characters into British landscapes dominated by icons of international recognisability, Cornell’s work on Captain Britain and MI-13 (2008-9) and other titles uses a less mechanical method of introducing a British dimension to the Marvel Universe. Rather than ‘postcard views’ (Liz, 2014: 5), it relies on a sense of a collective British consciousness, with appropriate symbols playing their part and magic presented as a unique driving force. A de-emphasis on physical power and spatial value, and an accent on feelings (defined in various ways), also characterises his work. In terms of the national dimension, and squaring a British symbol-system with the US-centric mythology of DC and Marvel, Cornell’s motto might be drawn from the pages of Knight and Squire #1: ‘You don’t need power, you need moderation’. Influenced by British television (for which he has scripted Doctor Who), we can regard the Britain that emerges through Cornell’s work as deploying a familiar and eccentric cast of characters, or, viewed in a different light, a host of repressed cultural obsessions rising up (as does Richard III in Knight and Squire). Thus, Cornell provides a way for cultural motifs from outside the U.S. to be exercised on the terrain of some of the most famous superheroes.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Funders: University of Salford
Depositing User: MJ Flanagan
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2016 08:19
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2016 08:19
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/38773

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