Suspension of Disbelief

What I find most interesting is that individuals try to argue or debate fantastic elements of comic books. This being said, reading a comic book is not much different than reading a non-fiction sci-fi novel or watching an IMAX movie. There are just some magical or fantastic elements that happen in the books that the reader knows is impossible and yet accepts this information as magical or fantastical. Examples of this are things such as time where a character talks for a while and the action is perceived as split seconds. Other examples would be no body but Thor can lift his hammer and yet this fact is rationalized. I find this interesting because there are so many blogs/forums about comic books anywhere from characters, character abilities/weapons, character lineage, and progression of story / narrative, character succession, multiple dimension/worlds and these topics are argued and debated to come up with a rational explanation.  The big question is why? But I guess that is the fun of these comic books. By having these online communities it adds value to the comic book that is not provided in the comic itself. This is very similar to reading a textbook chapter and then going to class to listen to a lecture to supplement that reading. The other question is why is there so much debate around fantastical elements when all that time debating could be used for figuring out different issues that the world is facing like solutions for the housing crash, cures for different diseases, or even future technologies. It seems like a big waste of time to argue and debate about something that really has no practical application for the world.  With the advent of the popular show Big Bang Theory this argument has reached mainstream.

The Big Bang Theory – The Girls Arguing About Comic Books

Written By

Ethan Lowry


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7 Responses to Suspension of Disbelief

  1. Troy Cooper says:

    I appreciate what you’re saying about the futility of looking at comics through a realistic lens. If one is going to read a book of pictures and speech balloons about a guy who dresses like a bat to fight crime, lets all go ahead and assume we’re going to discount a few blazingly obvious factual incongruities about the whole situation for the sake of enjoyment of the story. That being said, I think once I’ve enjoyed the story in a serious context, there is nothing more entertaining that looking at those plot holes from a realistic perspective. Questioning Bruce Wayne’s real motive for having a teenage sidekick is a comedy gold mine.

    As for an answer to your question about people arguing unimportant details of a comic 45 people have read, I would say those people (myself included) either have no direct impact on being able to fix anything remotely close to being called a world problem, or they argue these points in the down time in between hardcore “solve-the-world’s-problems” sessions as a means of escape from their unbearable load of responsibility. Either way, who doesn’t love a conversation about spiderman vs superman.

  2. sspina says:

    I would just like to add to Troy’s idea of “Escapism.” I agree activities such as arguing over comics is a way of refocusing ones attention to more enjoyable things, as opposed to the realities of daily life. I also agree with Troy that the majority of us have no impact on solving “world problems”, but if escapism becomes addictive, I do believe it can lead to living disengagement with the world. For example, internet addictions are becoming increasingly popular. When people spend hours of their day and night online, and begin to prefer the computer to real life relationships, when is it too much? I agree everyone needs to occasionally escape, but when escapism gets out of control, it can lead to loss of relationships, and the inability to interact and survive in the real world.

  3. sspina says:

    living disengaged *

  4. gsbeatty says:

    Thank you for posting this; I completely agree that suspension of disbelief is an intrinsically necessary process when reading comics (particularly regarding the superhero genre which is frequently dismissed in class). When the question you find yourself asking is, “why was Thor turned into a frog?” and not “where can I find more of this crazy frog Thor stuff??” then you’re missing the point of the superhero genre (particularly comics produced during the silver age). Does everything have to make sense? Does everything have to be plausible? Can’t comics just be fun?

  5. kodydillman says:

    I’m glad that you brought this topic up, because I think about it from time to time. Do you find that you have a harder time suspending disbelief in certain media than others? I, for example, don’t have any issues with it in comics, or even animation, but when it comes to film, it can be pretty difficult. Maybe it’s just that it’s a more lifelike representation, but it can get tiring suspending disbelief when watching certain sci-fi or fantasy movies. I think for me, it comes down to explanation. If there is some sort of semi-plausible grounding in science for the extraordinary events, I’m more likely to not think about it.

  6. xycai says:

    It is great that you brought up the issue about people arguing over fictitious “facts” in the comic books, especially ones in the superhero genre. I believe that it is also one major reason non-comic book readers often label comic book readers as “geeks”, because they appear to be too indulged in fictitious subjects. Moreover, I see the nature of this phenomenon to be the same as scholars who study character emotion and thoughts in great literature works such as Shakespeare. There are often paper published arguing for things such as “what is the true thought of Hamlet?” in the literature. Just as debating over superheroes, Shakespearean literature is fictitious and studying Shakespeare will not lead to the discovery of cure for diseases, or solve other more important world problems.

    I think that these types of conversation and debates are often brought up because it allows us to use our imagination and expand our thoughts around a certain topic. The result from these imaginations can possibly lead to innovation. After all, we are human beings driven by curiosity and a sense of truth seeking. I think debating about superheroes or Shakespearean literature is a good escape for us to use what is in our nature, and as a return we often find fulfilment and satisfaction in the process.

  7. scottdouglas says:

    Not all elements are rendered realistic and for that reason it is interesting to question the means behind a medium. Some details may be dubbed irrelevant, but the articulation behind a piece is truly fascinating. Analyzing the symbolic nature behind a work can present many associations as readers’ attempt to justify an author’s message. Our gaze and perceptions are guided by these abstract representations that may or may not have significant meaning… Anything can be arbitrary if it is not competently understood by its audience.

    I believe that each element serves a deliberate purpose and may reflect cultural connotations about ourselves and/or the author. Comics as a form of expression escape the obvious to stimulate and thrill. Every detail is intricately planned and interesting to consider in correlation to the dynamics of a whole. Although these abstractions are fantasy and may merely be for fun, they present particularities that are explicitly recognized or undermined. The degree in which a work can be examined is relative to the context in which it is placed. Moreover, an individual panel may raise more explorations than an entire anthology depending on the stipulating factors.

    An impractical question may not solve our world problems, but escapist notions are continually shaping the contemporary forms of communication. The specifics of a work are understood in accordance to the conventions of the form and the imagination of the audience. When a detail in an arrangement is provocative it attracts controversy or constructs a new reality.

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