Peter Coogan, the author of the book "Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre," is a respected scholar with a deep understanding and appreciation for comic books and the superhero genre. This book represents a significant contribution to the study of comic books and superheroes, offering insights into their evolution and cultural impact.

Professional Background and Education:

  • Coogan holds a doctorate and is known for his academic rigour and passion for comic books.
  • He has a fine education and teaches at a respected institution of higher learning, which signifies his credibility and expertise in his field.

Authorship and Research:

  • "Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre" originated as Coogan's dissertation, illustrating his long-standing commitment to studying the superhero genre.
  • The book delves into the evolution of the superhero genre, aligning it with the stages of genre evolution in Hollywood as identified by comics fans and scholars.
  • It explores the renaissance of superheroes in the early twenty-first century, highlighting the transition from a phase of anti-heroes to a renewed interest in more traditional superheroes.
  • Coogan examines key texts such as Frank Miller’s "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' "The Watchmen," noting their influence on bringing a more complex psychological depth to superhero narratives.

Contribution to the Field:

  • Coogan's work represents a significant academic contribution to understanding comic books as a cultural and artistic phenomenon.
  • His focus on the superhero genre reflects a unique blend of scholarly analysis and genuine enthusiasm for the subject matter.
  • By elevating the study of comic books to an academic level, Coogan challenges conventional perceptions of comic books as mere amusement for the barely literate or a pernicious influence on youth.

In summary, Peter Coogan is a distinguished scholar in comic book studies, particularly in the superhero genre. His work demonstrates a blend of academic rigour and a deep passion for the subject, significantly contributing to the understanding and appreciation of comic books and superheroes in popular culture and academic discourse.

Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre

The second edition of Peter Coogan's "Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre" builds upon the comprehensive exploration of the superhero genre presented in the first edition. In this edition, Coogan delves deeper into the genre's evolution, especially focusing on the uncertain future of the genre cycle. He discusses whether the superhero genre will progress beyond the reconstructive stage, like other movie genres such as Westerns, romantic comedies, gangster films, and musicals, which have yet to evolve.

A significant aspect of this edition is exploring how, in the reconstructive stage, all past stages of the genre become available for storytelling, allowing both audiences and producers to play with the genre's history. Coogan cites examples like Big Bang Comics, which creatively produces comics in various styles representing different ages of the superhero genre. This approach opens up many possibilities for future storytelling within the genre.

The book also contemplates whether a new classic stage will emerge in superhero comics or other movie genres, leading to a new cycle of evolution. However, Coogan notes the challenge of this happening due to the saturation of audience familiarity with the conventions of these genres after the first cycle. Given current consumer demands and producer capabilities, he suggests that reaching new levels of complexity and self-reflexivity in superhero narratives may be unlikely.

In summary, the second edition of Coogan's book offers a critical and insightful analysis of the superhero genre's past, present, and potential future, reflecting on its ability to reinvent itself and its challenges in an ever-evolving cultural landscape.