I’m “super” excited to announce the publication of the new book of which I am apart, The Ages of Superman: Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times, edited by Joseph J. Darowski.
Darowski writes: Louie Dean Valencia García provides a different view of this American icon, by analyzing Superman’s influence in Spain during the 1950s and 1960s. ”Truth Justice, and the American Way in Franco’s Spain” looks at translations of Superman comcis at a period when Francisco Franco was attempting to control as much of Spain’s popular culture as possible. While Superman may often be seen as an unproblematic symbol of virtue in America, in Spain at this time the American ideals embedded in Supermancomics were considered radical and often censored. This alternative view of Superman allows for an understanding of how the American values Superman embodied could be perceived from different perspectives.
You can find a short preview of my chapter here.
Reviews of the “Truth, Justice and the American Way in Franco’s Spain”:
“If not for the intriguing title of the fourth essay—Truth, Justice, and the American Way in Franco’s Spain by Louie Dean Valencia-García—I probably would have set The Ages of Superman aside. But thank goodness I didn’t, because this piece in and of itself is worth the cover price for the way it casts the Man of Steel in a completely different light. Contained within are a number of revelations (for this lifelong Superman fan, at least). For example, when the character first appeared in Spain, his costume was re-colored to match that of the Spanish flag, his name was changed to Ciclón, el Superhombre, and his comics were soon banned because—even in his Hispanicized form—Superman was viewed as subversive and counter-normative by Franco’s fascist government. Mind = blown.
The aspects of the comic that the government found subversive are almost as fascinating as the fact that they did at all: Superman’s dual identity, his lack of proper machismo (HA!), and “Luisa” Lane’s bravado and challenge of acceptable gender roles, despite her lack of Superman’s powers. I’m merely scratching the surface of this brilliant essay, but it’s one that anyone with an interest in Superman, comics in general, diverse cultural perspectives, or life under a fascist dictatorship absolutely must read. Combined with another recent book—Grant Morrison’s Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human, which provides amazing insights into the thoughts of writers working under the draconian Silver Age Comics Code Authority—I can honestly say I have an entirely different perspective on this period in Superman’s history.”
-Dennis Burger, Technology Tell
“Many of the pieces of writing are interesting and the best are fascinating. Louie Dean Valencia-Garcia delivers an intriguing piece on how that Superman was seen during the fascistic reign of Francisco Franco in Spain. I knew nothing about the culture of Spain under Franco before I read Valencia’s article, and I was spellbound by his exploration of how a very specific sort machismo was the formal ideology of the dictatorship, an ideology that excluded Superman.”
-Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
“One day I’ll throw a line like this into one of my reviews: “while the Spanish importation of the American Superhero certainly reflected American cultural imperialism of the post-war era, the fascist regime in Spain was especially aware of the capacity for Superman comic’s pluralistic tropes to subvert Francoist constructions of society, sexuality, and gender roles.” When I do, you’ll know that I’ve either attained a doctorate and started shopping at Whole Foods, or blatantly plagiarized a much smarter person. That line was taken from a particularly challenging, but enlightening essay exploring Superman’s effect on Franco’s Spain – just one of the many assessments of the character that I had hardly even considered before, yet it wound up being one of my favorite essays in the book.”
-The Dean, AintItCool.com