What Makes Ticking Boy Tick?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology, Richard Reynolds puts forward
a definition of a superhero that includes superpowers, a secret identity,
and justice. Another condition is ‘science as magic’, by this he means
that although there is scientific phenomena in these books, it is usually
only a ‘superficially plausible’ background detail as the world inhabited
by superhero characters is ‘mystical rather than rational’.

Autobiographical comics are by nature more rational than mystical, but
many still include tropes from superhero comics to aid metaphor and
storytelling. In my comic The Adventures Of Ticking Boy, I detail my
real life experience of undergoing heart surgery to replace a genetically
defective aortic valve, but I introduce the stories in the language and
visuals of superhero comics - ‘Is he faster than a speeding bullet? No’
This paper examines the medical, mystical and mundane influences
behind The Adventures Of Ticking Boy.

These inspirations include works of literature that mythologise the
dangers of scientific knowledge, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,
and Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Heart Of a Dog, as well as other nonsuper superhero comics such as Glenn Dakin’s Captain Oblivion. This
paper also looks at these influences on my wider artistic practice of
creating comics, zines and artists’ books. My minicomic You’re So Vain
takes a sideways look at scalp replacement surgery, and my illustrated
artists edition of The Heart of a Dog uses the intertextuality of linocut
printmaking, typography, and medical records, as well as photographs
of my own surgical scars to further investigate the influence of science
on our lives.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2014
EventInternational Association for Word and Image Studies (IAWIS/AERTI) Conference - University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Aug 201415 Aug 2014


ConferenceInternational Association for Word and Image Studies (IAWIS/AERTI) Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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