Talk:Superhero fiction

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I'd argue that this article could do with a bit of wikification (I saw the template). Seeing as it doesn't look like anyone else regularly keeps an eye on this page, I'd like to take it up.

I suggest the following alterations:

  • Splitting off 'Partial list of superhero fiction books' into its own page entitled List of superhero fiction novels;
  • A rewrite for style etc.;
  • Referencing claims.

I'd be able to get on this in the next few days, but there's no rush. Anyone got suggestions/objections? For now I'm just going to add a few internal links. Dougano (talk) 10:25, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree the list does not add anything and would be best on its own page (or possibly not included at all). --ThaddeusB (talk) 17:53, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
I'll go with a delete of that section instead of a split. Dougano (talk) 18:00, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Since this 2008 discussion and another discussion in June 2010, little has been done on this woefully unencyclopedic entry, which reads like a college essay or a fanzine article. It's an important and also highly extensive topic — likewise the similarly woeful entry Superhero — and it's going to take more than one or two people to fix it. I'm calling for fellow members of WIkiProject Comics to take this under their wings. I've done a little today, but it needs much, much more. --Tenebrae (talk) 16:31, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

A bit of a mish-mash[edit]

Most of this article should probably be at superhero comics (as it discusses the comic book superheroes and then tags on non-comics media on the end), the rest seems to be covered at superhero (which is the central article for this genre) or if not then it should really be there. Wouldn't it be better to split off chunks of this article and merge them to others and then possibly either repurpose this as "superhero novels" or just redirect it to superhero. (Emperor (talk) 02:59, 22 March 2010 (UTC))

In my opinion, no. Fiction(novels and short stories) and comics are different media.Chasrob (talk) 23:29, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
I hate to sound negative with a newcomer, but since we're building an encyclopedia, and we need to know accurate definitions, it's important to point out that superhero comics are a form of fiction. Fiction is not just novels and short stories. Fiction includes movies and plays and other things. -- Tenebrae (talk) 23:45, 7 June 2010 (UTC)


"Superhero" is not a genre, despite what one writer, who is not a literary scholar, claims in a book by a minor publishing company with no academic credentials. Announcing a brand-new genre to go along with comedy, drama, Western, science-fiction, etc., is a major, major claim that requires extensive corroboration. --Tenebrae (talk) 20:16, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure, exactly, what you're talking about above, but the claim 'Superhero (fiction) is not a genre' is uncited. Chasrob (talk) 23:08, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
One can't prove a negative. In other words, one can't prove what something is not — only what something is. I can see you've only been registered since April, and I know there's a lot to take in with Wikipedia policies and guidelines. To make a major claim that in essence creates a new genre in the long history of literature requires extensive corroboration. In other words, are there substantive literature professors who have written books and articles proclaiming that this new genre exists? That's a very high burden of proof, and rightly so. Genres don't get created casually. We don't have "housewife" as a genre, though thousands of books and movies feature housewives. --Tenebrae (talk) 23:28, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
I can prove a 'oil well is not a horse'.:) Look, you made the blanket statement 'most scholars and academics do not consider "superhero" a genre' and proceeded to do major changes in an article that contributors, since its inception, referred to as a genre or sub-genre. The article Genre fiction, in the section *Defining genre fiction* states 'Writers, publishers, marketers, booksellers, libraries, academics, critics, and even readers all may have different ways of classifying fiction, and any of these classifications might be termed a genre.' and '... the term genre remains amorphous,...'. So its subjective and a moving target.
And we do have 'Airport Novel', 'Chick Lit' etc Literary genre. Chasrob (talk) 23:58, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
"Oil well is not a horse" is a comparison. I don't mean to be pedantic, but any debate-team member or first-year law student knows that by the rules of logic you can't prove something that isn't. In terms of Wikipedia, it's also against policy to point to other Wikipedia articles, imperfect as they are, to attempt to prove a point. There's an article List of literary genres, for instance, and it's rightly tagged as making a bevy of uncited claims. Likewise, the article you cite, Genre fiction, is unreliable, tagged as it is for original research. And the article Genre is equally tagged as needing more citations and being written like an essay. And I'm sorry, but "airport novel" is not a genre, and "chick lit" is simply a popular colloquialism.
In your opinion, "genre" is a "moving target". In the opinion of generations of literary theorists and philosophers, however, the very beauty of established genres is that they are stable.
And Wikipedia is not a place for our opinions or subjectivity. If serious academic citations exist that indicate the literary establishment considers "superhero fiction" a genre, then there's no problem -- cite them. But just because someone created an article here calling "superhero" a genre without providing hard, reliable-source citations doesn't mean that that person's opinion — which, without citation, is all that is — should stand. --Tenebrae (talk) 01:46, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
What has original research have to do with... OK, so you can't come up with a cite for 'most scholars and academics do not consider "superhero"fiction a genre'. How about one for 'superhero fiction is a 'form'? Chasrob (talk) 00:25, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
"Form" is a generic word, unlike the heavily weighted "genre," which has hundreds of years of philosophy and tradition. Its synonyms include "type," "variety," "kind," "mode," "manner" and "style." I'm happy to discuss and collaborate if you have a preference for one of these or another appropriate descriptor. --Tenebrae (talk) 04:53, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
With regard to "superhero fiction" being a genre, it is helpful to note that Duotrope Digest ( includes "superhero" as a sub-category to "science fiction". Duotrope is a key resource for both writers and publishers. I admit that as a genre, there does not seem to be much academic discussion on this as a "genre" per se (e.g., I did a quick electronic search of the journal Science Fiction Studies and not much came up). Not sure if this is helpful or not. I've also tried to add a few things to the entry to offer information that may not fit under other related entries (specifically on original fiction rather than simply published comics or graphic novels). I hope this is also helpful as this entry is further enhanced/cleaned-up (and thanks to the other user who amended my entry, it reads much better).Dr. Philip L. Tite (talk) 00:16, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
With all due respect — I suspect that since a Phil Tite writes superhero poetry and since you use that handle and may or may or may not be him with a Ph.D. in English lit. or some such — Duotrope is entitled to say whatever it wants. More power to it. It looks like it's trying to provide a useful and free service to writers. That said, a bunch of anonymous contributors who, in their own words, "have day jobs (having nothing to do with publishing)" is not, I'm afraid, a credible source whatsoever.
Even a website of English professors, however, can't just create or declare a genre out of the blue. It takes years of debate and acceptance among academics. Why? Because the whole idea of genre is something that is fixed. Otherwise, it's not a useful descriptor. "Horror" and "Western" each have well-documented themes that define them as genres (if memory services, "giving concrete shape to our subconscious fears" and "bringing civilization to a frontier"). One can combine them, but they are still recognizable as separate, discrete elements.
"Superhero", by any widely accepted academic definition, is not a genre. Even calling it a sub-genre says it's a type of genre. What is the theme of superhero stories that's different from adventure stories or science-fiction stories, for example? That the characters have superpowers? That's not a theme.
This is all too much for a couple of anonymous editors on Wikipedia to concern ourselves with; if the general consensus of established academia defines "superhero" as a genre, then fine. But that's simply not so. --Tenebrae (talk) 03:02, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
Tenebrae, I really don't appreciate the aggressive and dominating tone in your comments and edits. Wikipedia is a collaborate project and I was merely trying to make a very small contribution to what I agree is a problematic article (and likely needs a complete re-write). On the issue of genre, if you read my comments carefully you will note that I was largely agreeing with you. However, genre is not fixed. Like language itself, genre is always contingent due to social use over time and in different contexts. From an academic perspective (and yes I do have a PhD and I'm active in scholarship), genre, in my opinion, is a heuristic tool that is a comparative device for making sense out of diverse and perhaps conflicting particulars, situating or re-situating those particulars within general frameworks that elucidate relations between those particulars. In order to effectively function within everyday use, of course, the relative nature of such categories or sub-categories (again like all language) needs to be overlooked or obscured -- i.e., we discuss genre *as if* fixed or such categories would cease to be meaningful (or at least run that risk). Historically, generic categories can be discerned as what is meant by particular groups within particular social and historical contexts. We can also trace the intersection of genre categories, the transformation of categories, etc. Definable elements can certainly be established, but like with all comparative labels, close inspection will cause the "generals" to collapse due to the "particulars" - there is a methodological gap that is problematic.
Anyway, this discussion on genre is important for elucidating Superhero fiction, if indeed we can identify it as a genre. I agree with you that this identification is not well established (and my preliminary hunting around - I'm not an English Lit expert nor am I a specialist in popular culture, I'm actually an ancient historian in the field of religious studies - confirms that you are correct that there is no such thing as a widely established "superhero genre"). However, given the contingent nature of categories, along with the use of such "superhero fiction" among those writing and publishing this material, it strikes me that we are likely seeing either a sub-genre of SF/Spec fiction or an emerging (sub) genre. Thus, things like Duotrope or a magazine's use of terminology *is* relevant evidence, but as primary not secondary evidence. As for scholars using "superhero genre", I have read that terminology in academic works. I just came across one such book of essays on superheroes in popular culture, with a particular essay that looks at the genre intersections between "superhero fiction" and other genres. I haven't read the essay closely yet, so I haven't added that material to this Wikipedia entry, but if I get a chance I will.Dr. Philip L. Tite (talk) 18:41, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
I'm glad we essentially agree, though I would not characterize my tone as aggressive at all; if you look again, I think you'll find it friendly and conversational. I apologize for my phrasing it you found it offensive.
You've been on Wikipedia very sporadically since 2007, with a couple dozen edits total it looks like, and I understand that Wikipedia policies and guidelines can seem overly stringent until you get used to them. The policy of reliable source is so central to Wikipedia that while any anonymous self-published source may provide useful leads, they're just not usable for Wikipedia referencing and so are sort of tangential to any discussion here.
Not knowing the particular book to which you refer, I can't comment. If it's also self-published, that has to be taken into consideration. If not, and the author is a reliable source, we can certainly mention that "Dr. John Doe of Empire University argues in his book Title Here that 'superhero fiction' is a subgenre of science fiction. This is not a widely held belief." — the latter added under the policy of undue weight, which balances (and I don't mean this with any bad connotation, and simply as a descriptor referring to numerical instances) fringe theories. I hope this helps. --Tenebrae (talk) 19:09, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Today's edits[edit]

As there is an extant section specifically for Internet superhero fiction, I've moved references to those web-only publications to that section.

The specific stories and poems don't need to be linked to; policy is to link only to the main page or some other single appropriate page of a website, rather than give it multiple links. With a magazine-format site, direct links to stories presumably aren't needed if the magazine has a standard table of contents or otherwise does not make its content inaccessible. --Tenebrae (talk) 23:40, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

With regard to Strange Horizons as a professional paying market, Tenebrae's comment that this is vague/makes no sense is unfounded. FYI, professional rates are normally seen at a min. of 5 cents per word and that rate is usually used to determine if a market is professional, semi-professional, or token paying. This is what is followed by the SFWA and HWA organizations in determining membership eligibility (SFWA also lists qualifying markets, which Strange Horizons is one, by how long a market has been active and the number of readers that the magazine has). I don't believe that the Author's Guild (AG) specifies professional rates of pay. Strange Horizons pays professional rates as is understood within science fiction writing circles. What constitutes "professional" rates, of course, is indeterminate -- there is no organizational body that has authority over such matters and therefore, in order to determine such matters, we are left with how writers/publishers discuss pay rates and how major writer associations use such language. The reference to Strange Horizons currently on Wikipedia in this article is odd and misleading, as other markets also pay (e.g., A Thousand Faces), but what they pay is so small in comparison that they are seen as token paying markets. Others, of course, are non-paying markets. I don't know what the New Yorker pays (the editor makes such a comparison, I'm assuming as hyperbole). When I amended this entry to paying professional rates (which was then reversed by Tenebrae), it was to clean up the editor's comment addition that Strange Horizons pays contributors -- that comment set up a false distinction. The real distinction is that Strange Horizons pays professional rates as understood by the SFWA (and is a SFWA qualifying market, which none of the other markets listed are). All of this is very minor, of course, and not overly relevant to this article, but hopefully this will clarify for the editor as per his/her comment in the edit. The real point of including Strange Horizons, as well as the other markets, is to illustrate/demonstrate the presence of superhero fiction in prose contexts outside of graphic novel or adaptations of established superhero characters by the major comic book companies - specifically within SF/Speculative fiction venues.Dr. Philip L. Tite (talk) 18:02, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
Strange Horizons says on its site that it pays writers. The other sites may say so as well, but I found no references to that there; such references may be on those sites, but relatively buried. Wikipedia can only say what we can can concretely and objectively link to via footnote.
Also, also per core Wikipedia policies about opinion and original research, we cannot make assumptions about what is "commonly understood" or "what everybody knows". I appreciate your understanding that constitutes "professional rates" is indeterminate, and thus too vague a term for Wikipedia to use. I also appreciate your recognizing my example of The New Yorker as a very stark example used for purposes of clarity. --Tenebrae (talk) 19:16, 3 February 2011 (UTC)


Can someone please fix the title of the Criticism section on the article? It now says Critism and it should be Criticism. Does anyone proofread these Wikipedia artilces? I find quite a few of them with misspellings and grammatical errors. (talk) 21:52, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

So why didn't you fix it yourself? --Orange Mike | Talk 23:42, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

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