Column -- "The Ballad Of Axe-Faced Anne: Comics, Criticism, Contexts" (Part One)

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ph.D.. Craig Fischer, Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:

Abstract: Reading a comic book once made me sick. Like other Baby Boomer kids, I fell in love with Silver Age Marvel Comics, especially the Kirby/Lee/Sinnott Fantastic Four. I was imprinted by Lee’s narrative voice (simultaneously melodramatic and folksy) and Kirby’s visual imagination: the Marvel aesthetic became my be-all-and-end-all, my standard for quality comics. One day, though, a friend left some comics at my house, and the next morning I casually picked a non-Marvel from his stack to read at breakfast. I started eating and reading: the comic was a weird pre-Code horror anthology, and the first story featured inky, crosshatched illustrations (a lesser artist channeling Creepy-era Reed Crandall, maybe) for a disturbing story about a woman who turns herself into a leopard. I hated it because it wasn’t a Marvel comic. I glanced at panels where the woman, with a human head and leopard’s body, prowled over her unconscious lover. I felt nauseous. I threw the comic and my cereal away. Why did I get sick? Why was I so invested in Marvel, and why and how did this leopard-woman horror comic upset my tastes so traumatically? What does it mean to read a new comic?

Additional Information

Fischer, C. (2012). "The Ballad Of Axe-Faced Anne: Comics, Criticism, Contexts" The Comics Journal (TCJ), February 6, 2012. Version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2012
Comics, Marvel, New Horror, Criticism

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