Pustz, Matthew 1968-

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PUSTZ, Matthew 1968-

PERSONAL: Born 1968. Education: University of Iowa, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Home—128 Westside Dr., Apt. 12, Iowa City, IA 52246-4325. E-mail—[email protected] edu.

CAREER: Educator and author. University of Iowa, Iowa City, adjunct professor of American studies; ICON, Iowa City, author of "Words and Pictures," column.


Comic Book Culture: Fanboys and True Believers, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1999.

SIDELIGHTS: A professor of American studies and a newspaper columnist, Matthew Pustz takes on one of the quintessential American art forms in Comic Book Culture: Fanboys and True Believers. Pustz divides comic-book afficianados into two primary groups: "fanboys," who generally prefer classic superheroes like Superman and Batman; and "true believers," who tend toward more avante-garde comics, such as "Watchman" and "Eightball." There is also a third group, "speculators," who focus on rare comics for their resale value. Fanboys are overwhelmingly male, with true believers somewhat more mixed, but both groups share a seriousness about their hobby. As Booklist reviewer Gordon Flagg noted, "Pustz's straight-faced treatment is appropriate because it mirrors their general lack of humor about themselves."

At the same time, these comic book factions tend to be mutually exclusive, with true believers often contemptuous of the fanboys, and fans within both groups often subdivided into mutually hostile camps based on differences in taste and perceptions. "Pustz argues that the conflict within and among comic book fandom makes comic culture distinct from fan cultures associated with other media and pop cultures," according to Jeffery Klaehn in the Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. In North America, unlike Japan, this conflict creates a generally "closed system" with largely impermeable boundaries between different comic book communities, and between the comic book world and the mainstream society. "Comic Book Culture is an important book that deserves a broad readership," concluded Klaehn.

For a Choice reviewer, "Some parts of the book are well done. . . . But too often one finds generalizations, insufficiently supported claims, and misinformation." Other reviewers were more impressed. "It covers a lot of ground and in a way that a novice and veteran can understand," wrote Paul Lappen in Blether.com Similarly, Ruminator Review contributor Jennifer Kohnhorst appreciated this generalist approach. She wrote, "It's worth noting that you don't have to know much about comics to enjoy this book. I mention this because so much of the writing about comics, and of course comics themselves, are insider texts."



Booklist, December 15, 1999, Gordon Flagg, review of Comic Book Culture: Fanboys and True Believers, p. 750.

Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, February, 2002, review of Comic Book Culture, p. 111.

Choice, October, 2000, J. A. Lent, review of ComicBook Culture, p. 321.

New Yorker, June 18, 2001, Leo Carey, review of Comic Book Culture, p. 34.

Ruminator Review, summer, 2002, Jennifer Kohnhorst, "Let Your Geek Flag Fly," p. 13.


Blether.com,http://www.blether.com/ (October 21, 2002), Paul Lappen, review of Comic Book Culture.*