"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Super-Hero Founders

This past weekend marked the annual San Diego Comic-Con, a 4.5 day event that celebrates everything from  comic books, animation, and video games to blockbuster movies, television, and popular culture. The convention has grown exponentially since its supposed inception in the 1970s, but what most people don't realize is that comics (not so much video games and movies) have been around for centuries and that many of our founding fathers not only established the platform but in fact held early gatherings that inspired these now immensely popular culture events. For those of you who appreciate the medium, here are a few interesting facts to throw out next time some football player pushes you around before gym class that will really make him feel stupid:*

1) Thomas Paine was a well known comic book artist, or "pamphleteer" as they were called in the 18th century. In addition to a cartoon version of Common Sense, he also published several seminal works for the medium including a series of adventures starring Benjamin Franklin and the Kool-Aid Man. 

2) George Washington, though not an avid collector himself, was also quite often illustrated in several comic book series during his life and after his death. His habit of wearing a cape into battle (and at most public appearances) is led to the popularization of capes among the superheroes of the golden age of comics including Superman, Batman, and Lt. "Hop" Harrigan aka The Black Lamp.

3) Prominent among early comic book collectors and boasting a collection of over 46 cartoon pamphlets (there were only 63 in circulation at the time of his death) was none other than Alexander Hamilton. Records indicate that he periodically hosted a monthly meeting that history books dub "The Super Best Patriot Friends League," consisting of himself, Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, and Stan Lee. The meetings ended in 1804 when Burr shot Hamilton over an argument involving a creased page in a limited edition Thomas Paine pamphlet. Stan Lee also turned out to be an ageless superhero himself and went on to found Marvel Comics, a major publisher that still exists today.

So there you have it true believers! Comics, like most of our current culture, were originally a creation of those patriotic heroes we call the Founding Fathers. 

Until next time, Excelsior!
The Lost and Founders

*Warning - if you are a small person prone to being picked on, do not mention any of these facts to a high-school bully or you will probably be mocked forever. Instead, take them to heart and use them to advance your status among other comic book collectors when you get to college.

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