Even those who consider the possibility of the graphic novel as literature often tend to sweep superheroes under the carpet, defending comics with statements like, "Well, there are other things besides superheroes..." My basic goal in this paper is a defense of the superhero genre of comics as a legitimate form of literature.
I'm sure that Watchmen will come into play, since it is essentially the only superhero comic that is well-regarded in literary circles. I'd also like to look at either Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns or Mark Waid and Alex Ross's Kingdom Come. But I would also like to closely examine some individual issues of major superhero comics like Superman or Batman to assess their worth (or lack thereof) as literature, something that the class title of "Graphic Novel" forces us to otherwise overlook. Unfortunately, I can't really go into anything much more specific until I start closely analyzing these texts, but a few possible points and/or arguments are as follows:
-Superheroes, to an extent, reflect the conscience and social mores of the period of society from which they are produced.
-Denying superheroes literary status is like denying it to the western, or to science fiction- you can't just ignore an entire genre; you have to separate the good from the bad just like anything else.
-Saying that superhero comics are not literary because they are for entertainment, or because they are written with the goal of sales in mind, is not valid. Mark Twain wrote for the money, and his books were seen in his day as entertainment.
-Superhero concept dates back to Aristotle. He envisioned men possessing superior virtue and self-mastery who would necessarily transcend the external human bureaucratic-administrative framework. (May or may not be relevant).
Outside research beyond primary texts will also need to be done to see what has already been written on the subject. I would also like to tackle the common interpretation of superheroes as a sort of "modern mythology" - Superheroes, I would argue, are not at all analogous to myth in the traditional sense.
Of course, somewhere along the line I will have to discuss exactly what defines a superhero as a superhero - and for that matter what defines literature as literature.
Sorry if this is a little muddled and incoherent. I just wrote it this morning.