Calling All Legionnaires: The Great Thesis Project Continues!

[Note: I accidentally posted this under the "Newsboy" login I use for PR, so I'm re-posting under my correct name. I've also added the one response before I caught the error, from Luke Blanchard. Mea culpa!]

Hail, Legionnaires! The Emergency Signal shines forth once again!

As most of you know, I'm pursuing my Master's degree in Journalism at the University of Memphis -- and my thesis combines journalism and comics. But I've narrowed down the topic, and need your help to make it as comprehensive as possible.

The topic is still how journalism is portrayed in the comics, but I've narrowed it down to one decade: the 1960s. I needed to narrow the concept down to A) an era where I had most of the texts, and B) an era where there was some (but not too much) diversity. The 1960s seem to fit best, a decade where I own most of the material (or it is available in reprint) and where I can. at the very
  east, compare the Daily Planet staff vs. the Daily Bugle folks.

My primary interest is journalism ethics, but in general I'm interested in any story that features a journalist or the role of journalism in a significant role.

Still, that's a lot of comics! So if the Legionnaires can help me pinpoint the major stories or storylines, without re-reading hundreds of books, I'd be most grateful. Where I've focused on so far, and where I need help:

* Amazing Spider-Man
   -- the ethical issue of Peter Parker selling photos of Spider-Man without revealing they are one and the same. There's the issue where he faked being Electro (I think), which even in the book was treated as a serious ethical breach. But I need to find a few instances where he evades JJJ's questions or outright lies to him -- or instances where JJJ says he doesn't care how he got the pix, which is also an ethical issue.
   -- J. Jonah Jameson violating just about every ethic in sight in his vendetta against Spidey. (Anyone remember some particularly juicy scenes?) Isn't there a scene somewhere where he admits he's jealous of the wall-crawler?
   -- Frederick Foswell, going back and forth as undercover good guy (Patch) and undercover bad guy (The Big Man).
   -- Anybody remember anything about Ned Leeds from the '60s? I seem to remember Parker referring to him as a "good guy," but that's it.

* Harris Hobbs blackmailing Thor in Journey Into Mystery #120-123.

* Action, Superman, Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen and World's Finest from Jan 60-Dec 69. I'd rather not re-read ALL of those, so if anyone remembers any particularly newspaper-heavy stories, or just some representative ones (of Clark Kent being super-honest, or Lois pulling some cheesy trick, or Jimmy dressing up, or Perry White being editor-ish) I'd be grateful. And when did Lana Lang become a TV reporter? (And should I really bother with Lois Lane? All I remember from that book is conniving, not reporting.)

* Jack Ryder, Showcase #73 and Beware the Creeper #1-6.

* Vic "The Question" Sage, Blue Beetle #1-5.

* Anybody remember any '60s Vicki Vale stories? Or was she all in the '50s?

* Speaking of Batman, wasn't there a reporter in the Gotham City Mystery Club? (Or whatever it was called.) Seems to me she and Bats had a near-miss in the romance department, but I don't remember where or when. Were there any other Bat-related reporter stories?

* Did Iris West ever do anything reporter-ish in Flash, or did she just nag Barry about his tardiness?

Anybody remember any others? I'm excluding comic strips for now (I'll save that for the dissertation), but there must be more. And it doesn't have to be superheroes -- I just don't remember any non-Spandex books that involved reporters. There were probably dozens of short stories in the mystery books that featured unsavory reporters, but since they would all be one-shots, I can safely write them off as minor. Still, I wouldn't mind one or two for completeness' sake.

Anything else? I've got to have a rough draft by June 1, so the clock's ticking!

(And thanks in advance!)

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The thesis proposal has been submitted, so now I wait for the inevitable changes suggested by my committee chair. Would you guys like to see it? I could post it here, or as a blog post (where it would get more eyeballs).
Sure.
that'd be great
I probably should wait until my professor suggests his changes and I incorporate them. Unless you guys are just fascinated by the process. And who could blame you? :)
As far as the gray areas of J, Jonah Jameson (other than his sideburns), I remember the first "Prowler" story (which was late in the Lee-Romita run, maybe 94 or something...) in which it's revealed that, whatever else you think of him, Jameson isn't a bigot. I remember nothing else about the story and not even the context, but I remember reading that and being brought up short. I think it was because all of the negative qualities he'd been associated with since 1963 could be cute and funny in a way, but by 1969 people like that were also seen as standing in the way of civil rights - and THAT wasn't at all endearing. So Marvel had to make that clear.

There was also that 1970 Avengers story where a hooded race-baiting menace was suspected of being this race-baiting conservative TV pundit, but it turned out (IIRC) was ALSO the pundit's supposedly liberal African-American antagonist.
I didn't start reading Amazing Spider-Man or the other Spider-Man titles in earnest until the end of the '70s, when i was coming out of high school, so I have no first-hand exposure to the Steve Ditko years or the John Romita era (and I truly feel deprived). So, it was in reprints that I saw all the stories about campus turmoil and Jameson declaring the Daily Bugle was a champion for civil rights ...

... and I couldn't buy it.

It goes to credibility: I had seen plenty of stories of Jameson and the Bugle being wrong about superheroes ("Spider-Man -- Threat or Menace?"), so how could I believe they were right about anything else? I certainly couldn't believe, only on Jameson's say so, that the Bugle would give a fair shake to people of color if it reflexively would not for characters in costume who tirelessly work for the public good.
Captain Comics said:
Incidentally, CK, "fun-house mirror version of the Daily Planet" is a great phrase. If you remember what thread that's on from the old board, I'll find it and attribute to you. (Well, I'll attribute to you anyway, but it would be nice to see the context in which you used it, and to be able to footnote it.) Yes, the old board is still there -- the host has inexplicably let it disappear (and not for the first time, which is one of the reasons we moved here) and I haven't gotten around to the three-hours-on-customer-service routine to get it back up. Believe it or not, that's not my highest priority at the moment ... :)

I see the old site is back up (YAY!), so I found that citation -- it was, in all places, the " 'Identity Crisis' Restart" thread, as follows, and I expound at length on the contrasts between Spider-Man's world and Superman's:


Quote from: ClarkKent_DC on December 07, 2004, 11:51:53 AM
I'm surprised to hear you say that, sir. For me, the notion of the DC Universe public distrusting Superman falls squarely in the realm of "Whenever someone speaks of making comics 'realistic,' more often than not they mean doing something that takes the fun out of them."

In other words: There's enough of that stuff in Marvel comics ("Spider-Man: Threat or Menace?"). I certainly had no desire to see it in the Superman books.

But, that's what makes horse races.


Quote from: Commander Benson on December 07, 2004, 12:14:36 PM
As I said, I had no desire to see such a thing become a permanent fixture in the Superman mythos, as it was over in Spider-Man. I simply feel that it should have been addressed at least once. That would have been sufficient to put the matter to rest for me from then on.

Even in Spider-Man, Jonah Jameson's constant diatribes against Spidey grew old after the first few years. After having publically defeated a host of super-villains, had a hand in saving the world a few times, and having the Avengers vouch for him, for even Jameson--whose life was saved more than once by the Wall-Crawler--to continue to rail against him as a menace lost internal credibility.

Despite his prejudices, Jameson was nearly always depicted as an excellent newsman--or at least a canny one--and at some point, he would have had to realise that to continue to label Spider-Man a menace, in the face of all the facts to the contrary, would cause his paper to lose credibility, and therefore, sales. (Unless Jameson wanted to turn the Daily Bugle into the kind of "newspaper" that headlines twenty-five pound dog-babies and Elvis is alive and bagging groceries at the local Kroger's.)

This situation is essentially the reverse of Superman's; the public mistrust of Spider-Man is as much a part of his mythos as the public reverence of the Man of Steel is part of his.

Here again, I wouldn't want it totally eliminated from Spider-Man's world, but the arguments against him being a menace should have been addressed at least once. (And maybe it was; I was never a Spider-Man devotee.)



Reply #917 from ClarkKent_DC on December 07, 2004, 12:58:29 PM

Oh, I'm sure it was addressed at least once ... and then, back to the same old same old.

But, yes, Spider-Man's situation is a fun-house mirror of Superman's. Clark Kent is a top reporter on the city's and the world's most prestiguous newspaper. Said newspaper frequently extols the feats of his alter-ego, burnishing his reputation in both his guises. The Daily Planet newsroom is led by a veteran editor who is a giant in the field, who treats him with the warm regard he would give to his own son.

And Peter Parker? He's a photographer, not a reporter, and thus has diminished value to this news-gathering enterprise. (Don't get me wrong. I'm not downgrading the worth of photographers; I'm pointing out that he's less necessary to a newspaper, where words rule, than he would be to a magazine like Life or National Geographic or Sports Illustrated, where pictures rule.) He's a freelancer, not a staff photographer, another sign that he's expendable. Unlike the Daily Planet, the Daily Bugle is a second-rate tabloid. Said newspaper maligns the reputation of Peter Parker's alter ego at every turn ("Spider-Man: Threat or Menace"). And its leader is abrasive, arrogant, stubborn, and routinely cheats Peter Parker, knowing he has nowhere else to turn.

I don't know just how much thought Stan Lee put into this, but it's pretty clear that he was turning the Clark Kent paradigm on its head.

As for the incessant hero-worship of Superman, you have a point. I recall a story by Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane, when they were on Action Comics, that highlighted this. The setup was that a columnist at the rival newspaper, the Metropolis Eagle, wrote a front-page piece along the lines of "Superman: Threat or Menace?" He argued that as wonderful as Superman might be, the world shouldn't trust a being with absolute power because it corrupts absolutely.

Jimmy Olsen was just appalled that someone could write such mean things about Superman, given all the good he's done, and Clark Kent counseled that everyone has the right to his opinion. As the day went on, we saw Superman going out and saving the world -- capping volcanoes, stopping earthquakes, putting out forest fires, etc. -- and each feat was accompanied by Jimmy's and Clark's conversation, which they picked up each time a new edition of the other paper showed up. With each subsequent edition, as Superman racked up another good deed, the placement of the column moved to a lower, smaller spot on the page, until the final edition, which had a big headline that the column was canceled! Clark and Jimmy gloated. Oy!

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