This might help explain why I’m concentrating on DC before finishing the rest of the website.
The DC Universe is my favorite place in the world.
The DC Universe, or Multiverse, is the largest collaborative story-based creation in the history of mankind.
In addition, it is probably one of the biggest (or the biggest!) creative collaborations ever, in any medium.
By this, I mean that more artists, writers, creative geniuses and weirdo eccentrics have come together in this shared place to create more characters, settings, story-lines, relationships, concepts, even genres, than in any other sanctioned sandbox. Ever.
And that’s just the comics, not even counting the movies, tv shows, novels, t-shirts, etc – or even the fan art, cameos in other comics and media, inspired works, and so on.
So, even though it might be a bit silly and totally entertainment, it’s possible that the DCU is one of mankind’s greatest achievements.
But that’s my humble opinion. I didn’t go to school just to study this, though I’d love to (and will probably be pursuing my PHD in visual culture, a significant chunk of I plan to focus on this subsection of creative reality).
I did write quite a few hefty papers while in undergrad, concentrating mostly on the DCU as a force that brought the idea of multiple realities to the mainstream. So I’ve done some research, but I could be wrong.
Please let me know if I am. It would be good to know.
You could make a case that Bible lit, or Vampire Lit or something like that is all in the same “shared universe” but I don’t think it would be a strong case. You could say that Flickr is a creative force, but it’s really more of a collection of separate efforts than an ongoing and intentional collaboration. You could mention that thousands have worked together on great monuments, but those are usually still the creative vision of one architect or a small team of directors.
Sure, there is usually an editorial board, but they help tie everything together while still allowing an incredible flow of creativity through their doors. Millions of panels of art by thousands of artists, in many styles and media. Books upon books of text. Incredible and often groundbreakingly influential graphic design. Running strong for over 70 years with threads dating back even further.
Yeah, there are a lot of superheroes, but there is also every type of other character imaginable – from vikings to soldiers, detectives to regular joes just trying to get by. There are daily life stories, love stories, coming of age stories, horror stories, mysteries, metaphysical journeys, comedic romps. They are sometimes wrapped in tights, sneaking up on us through a familiar and colorful mask. But other times they come in unexpected forms, new views on a now familiar medium.
The DCU is a sanctioned sandbox, like I said – it’s tied strongly together and builds and folds in on itself again and again. It’s grown to encompass and absorb other universes, like Charlton Comics, and to give birth to still more, like Wildstorm or Vertigo. To those of us who are well versed in its lore, it’s still a place of constant new discovery. I haven’t even cataloged every trade they’ve released yet, let alone been able to comprehend the amount of floppy issues available.
It gave us our first modern superhero. It gave us our first super-team. The first miniseries and so on and on and on. Marvel is wonderful, but I can’t believe it would exist if Action Comics #1 had never come out… at least not in the way we have it now. Marvel gets credit for a lot, and put a lot of emphases on a shared reality for its characters when it was first starting out, but DC had set the stage the first time Hawkman met with the Spectre around the Justice Society table.
The DCU travels to the depths of our deepest oceans, to the farthest reaches of space, into worlds of magic and incomprehensible technology, past barriers of time, through the old west, world wars, ancient past and far future, past logic, past the limits of good and bad taste, and even through the fourth wall into the lands of post-modernism and meta-storytelling.
Bigger than the biggest MMO, longer (if read in sequence) than any other image based work (and possibly longer than any other text based work). I have no idea how high it would stack if you could somehow get every released issue back to back. The trades alone take up more than three full length bookshelves and can be read from one end to the other as a cohesive epic, spanning space, time, and multiple realities.
It’s darn impressive.