Monday, April 25, 2011

"Our Gods Wear Spandex" review

Christopher Knowles, best known, perhaps, for his blog Secret Sun.  Is also an author and has penned 2 books; "Our Gods Wear Spandex" and "The Secret History of Rock and Roll".  I have not yet read the latter but this review will examine the first, which I recommend.

Many of the concepts that Chris examines in his blog are further extrapolated in this book. Much of what Chris does is examine popular culture and note the influence of mythology and the Mystery Religions.
As can be seen by the title and the cover art (which is done well by Joseph Michael Linsner) this book is about the origin of the comic book and the development of the "comic book hero".
The book is an excellent start for anyone interested in looking at a primer on the development of the modern comic book.  It highlights many of the better known names in the business, both artists and writers.  Knowles has a special place for Jack Kirby.
Chris shows quite clearly how the modern heroes have developed out of the "Old Gods" and the further development of those characters by artists and writers that were influenced by the occult and mystical societies like "The Rosicrucians""Freemasonry", and "Theosophy".
The theme expressed is that people are looking for heroes and they find them in comics.
It has been my contention that our heroes are in fact dead already.  But maybe as Lovecraft observes about Cthulhu and other "Old Gods" our heroes (as embodiments of ancient myth and reality) are dead but also alive.  They are in the liminal state between the waking world and that of dreams, or the collective unconscious.  They are merely waiting until the "stars come right" to return to offer us salvation (or damnation).
The influence of the "ancient astronauts" is of course explored here as well, notably through the work of Kirby.
It is perhaps in this latter that we see the development of the very first heroes, the ancient gods of old, Horus, Gilgamesh, Attis, and the rest.  That what we have as mythology is really history and that these being were here at one time "in the flesh" so to speak.
Our heroes and saviors have been with us throughout the millenia in our culture in overt and covert ways.  Comics is a modern form of expression (if you discount cave art and clay tablets) of this hidden meme.
Chris leaves us to wonder what will come of this in the future.  Where will we be?  What if the "old gods" return and our heroes are writ large as life right before us?  Will they be happy with how we developed and offer us hope for the future?  Will they be returning to take back what is theirs?
If you see Horus descending like an angel from the brightness of the Sun as depicted in "Kingdom Come" (only replacing Horus with Superman and the other greats of comic bookdom) then you will know that the time for questions is over and our answers are coming.  Whether we like them or not.

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