Cliffhanger!: The First Movie Superheroes

February 12, 2024

Christopher Irving
Christopher Irving

Meet VCU Authors: Christopher Irving

Start time: 12:00 p.m.

End time: 1:00 p.m

Location: Virtual

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Hold on tight as historian Christopher Irving explores the origins of the first on-screen superheroes and the comic creators and film-makers who brought them to life. Cliffhanger! touches on the early days of the film serial, to its explosion as a juvenile medium of the 1930s and ‘40s. See how the creation of characters like Superman, Captain America, Spy Smasher, and Captain Marvel dovetailed with the early film adaptations. Along the way, you’ll meet the stuntmen, directors (Spencer Bennett, William Witney, producer Sam Katzman), comic book creators (Siegel & Shuster, Simon & Kirby, Bob Kane, C.C. Beck, Frank Frazetta, Will Eisner), and actors (Buster Crabbe, George Reeves, Lorna Gray, Kane Richmond, Kirk Alyn, Dave O’Brien) who brought them to the silver screen—and how that resonates with today’s cinematic superhero universe.

About the Speaker

Assistant Professor Christopher Irving (Communication Arts) delves into the history of two related media, superhero comic books and film, in his latest book, Cliffhanger! Prior to that, he has written several articles on comic book history, as well as the books The Blue Beetle Companion, Conversations: Larry Hama, Conversations: Michael Allred, Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics, and Comics NYC (for the French market). Irving currently teaches Visual Communications in the Communication Arts department, as well as topics courses on Star Wars, Batman, and what he calls the "technodystopia". A student in the Media, Arts, and Text program, he is on track to defend his dissertation in Summer 2024.