Blog Post 3: DC comics

The below visualizations take a look at the way gender has played out over time in DC comics. I originally wanted to compare DC and Marvel comics but found it would probably be best to start with one franchise create the visualizations I wanted and replicate those for the other later on if I still feel it’s relevant to the project. I chose DC comics to start because my favorite superhero/ villain combo (Batman and Joker) are part of the DC universe. My dataset is one part of FiveThirtyEight’s article on gender in comic books. They used the wikia fandom pages for DC and Marvel to create the datasets they used in their article.

I think this project would be interesting to everyone from hardcore comic book fans to women and gender studies students. Superheroes are ingrained in American culture. So much so that every new movie release breaks box office records. I am not particularly a fan of superhero films but somehow always find myself watching one in a theater because several of my friends “NEEDED” to see it.

Seeing as these books lay the foundation for the other mediums (tv and film) I thought it could be good to take a deeper look at the framework for what we as a culture are consuming. Although housed in different universes comics often have something to say about current events. That contributes to why Adolf Hitler is a comic book character. This led me to the question of has this tradition continued? How are characters in these stories changing to represent a larger spectrum of readers? It made sense to analyze gender and sexual preference since other factors like race and age since we are not dealing with our concepts of time and space.My first visualization however is set in our ideas of time and space.

The visualization below shows the first appearance of characters by gender from 1935-2015. It shows that women have been featured in comic books about the span of time as men. It also shows an emergence of genderless characters and one transgendered character.



The second visualization looks at appearances over time. I tried to answer the question “How many times did male characters appear in the books? Female?” This line chart shows a dramatic spike in appearances around 1987. In the late 80s starting in 1986 the “new earth” universe in DC comics began. It included crossovers which is probably why the overall  appearances of characters increased The new earth universe is the mainstream one that most of us know. New Earth era of comic books ran from about 1986-2011.

The third visualization looks at the appearance of female characters over time. I colored these by name of character. I thought it was interesting to look at often each character appeared. By doing it this way there are two levels of visuals. The first you automatically see in the bar chart and the layered information given by the colors and tool tips.

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