I should have tackled this topic before… The deeper I look into the world of comics, the more Dieselpunk elements I find. Which is only natural. The Golden Age of Comics covers the same time and therefore shares the same influences as the Golden Age of Pulp.
So take a look at these Golden Age Superheroes and villains (and klick, there are more details in the full size images):
I find it especially interesting to compare the evolution of the artwork and also the heroes. If you take a look at Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern (the guy on the right picture), his ring was a magical artifact, later the ring was alien tech according to Clarke’s Third Law.
The characters chosen for the Green Lantern Corps have changed to fit the taste and need of their times and the artwork has also changed with time, taste and technology (I love absolutely arbitrary and annoying alliterations…), as this image depicting Kyle Rayner, one of the modern Green Lanterns, shows:
Yes, I think the much belittled comic really is a mirror of its time and since it has been around for quite a while now as an art form, it is a valuable ressource for sociologist, historians and anthropologists.
Comics show you what their readers crave, what their hopes and fears are and what heroes they identify with. Comics are literature, like it or not. Like the sagas and myths of old and the regular books we read, comics tell us just another version of the Hero with a Thousand Faces. In that, they are just as valuable as any piece by Tolstoy, Goethe or Twain. Yes, there are bad comics, but there are also a lot of bad novels around.
Oh dear… That was quite a ramble.