HomeArts & EntertainmentPsychology and comics: An interview with Clint Selman

Psychology and comics: An interview with Clint Selman

Children around the world grow up with superheroes. Sometimes those children grow up and develop a genuine interest and hobby from their childhood of whimsy. Those children can even become college professors. That is the case with Clint Selman, a TJC psychology professor and lifelong reader of comic books and graphic novels. He believes superhero stories have a core element that unites protagonists. “Here’s this bad stuff that happened to me, and it helped forge me into this person that I am today. Hey, look, pay attention you could do that too,’” Selman said.

Professor Selman sits in his office before class. He has decorated it to be more personalized to his interests through the years.

Selman’s psychology degree offers a unique perspective on fifiction. Selman discussed the parameters of what makes a good character. He generally wants to see a story of someone overcoming relatable adversities to become greater.

“I want to hear about the guy who doesn’t have any friends, has no one to sit with in the cafeteria, but has to fifigure out how to claw his way up to survival and then you know, becoming something above whatever he was thrown into,” Selman said.

He generally gravitates toward characters who do not have all of the power imaginable and have to overcome prejudice, poverty and live rtp slot hari ini. When a character becomes too powerful, Selman said he is often swayed away from them as they become less grounded.

“It’s kind of like, the popular quarterback who also aces every class and has the girl and has the rich family. It’s like, ‘OK, do I really want to hear about your struggles today?’ I really don’t,” Selman said.

Selman added he does not disregard them as characters as he believes they can still be compelling and relatable, but he holds a certain fondness for more earthly issues they go through rather than cosmic threats of comical proportions.

Selman also delved into the instances where a character deviates from their established morals.

“I don’t know. It’s just fascinating. It’s very complex and I like that. So yes, let them deviate from their morals. But you have to return to who they are or they have to deviate in a way that makes sense for them. That’s the key,” Selman said.

He listed “JLA: Tower of Babel” by Mark Waid where Batman collected all of the weaknesses of the Justice League in case any of them were to go rogue as a good deviation because he saw it as logical for Batman to do this but also ethically questionable. He listed the spin-off character of The Batman Who Laughs as a way to sell comics without actually saying anything about the character on an emotional or critical level saying, ”It was like I wasn’t reading Batman it was like I was just reading some other characters created.” He does not want a character’s history to be put in question just for link slot gacor to fifind it peculiar.

This same judgment is not applied to characters who progress or evolve past their moral compass though such as the relationship between Batman and Two- Face, formerly Harvey Dent.

Harvey Dent was originally a district attorney with an agenda against the mob, but later abandoned this goal and formed a hatred toward Batman due to a traumatic event caused by Batman’s failure to stop the mob. He also highlights the differences and similarities between the two characters.

“He started out good and fell. That’s interesting, too. You know, I said, I like it to end good, but it’s also interesting to see people that take the wrong path, because people do,” Selman said.

“So, you have this comparison, ‘OK here’s this really bad stuff that happened to you and here’s what you did with it. Here’s this really bad stuff that happened to me. Here’s what I did with it.’ It gets fascinating,” Selman said. The idea is both characters could be in each other’s situation had they just made a few different decisions, and that concept is often explored within comics.

Narrative and art follow characters in Selman’s hierarchy of the most important elements in creating a story. Selman values character the most when reading a story. He wants to be so invested in a character that he can read several issues where the character does nothing and still be satisfified and entertained. These three elements are better complemented when there is a level of commentary challenging the reader.

“I think any time you can do that you’re elevating the art. The comic is an art,” Selman said.

He relishes the challenges within the comic because he must question both the story and reality. “Watchmen” by Alan Moore and “Sandman” by Neil Gaiman are two comic books he often praises as excellent examples of all three, particularly “Watchmen.” His classes are a frequent audience for his ideas. “I’ve read ‘Watchmen’ probably 20 times, and even use that in class, for discussions and assignments,” Selman said.

Selman’s degree in psychology also makes comics a matter of critical analysis.

“Well, instead of reading it once, you read them three times, and try to fifigure out what you’re going to actually get from it once you move past the entertainment,” Selman said.

He describes his experience as a process of narrowing down who the character is aimed at, what they stand for, why they do what they do, and what the material says about the characters, the readers, and the author of the comic.

“I think authors in general, writers in general, playwright, you name it, I think all of us are sort of trying to fifind an outlet that is socially acceptable to discuss things that we fifind difficult,” Selman said.

The authors are making harsher truths more palatable and accessible because they can express them in ways many cannot. Selman said authors talk about their own issues and issues they believe are important through their work because it is safer as a contained truth that exists in fiction rather than one you have to confront in reality. 

His perspective in psychology and mental illness was used to explain the quote “We all wear masks Spider-Man, but which one is real? The one that hides your face or the one that is your face?” by the Green Goblin.

“I mean, as a psychologist, I think that everybody has masks and that’s not a
bad thing even, you don’t want to be the same you in church, at a party, with your parents, at a football game, you know, you have different masks, and most of those
are just benign,” Selman said. He added not all masks are benign. Villains like the Green Goblin represent a portion of people who use masks to be their true selves or to become entirely separate people because they hate who they are. He said they “can become whoever I want to be, choose to be, need to be.” He fifinds it fascinating that villains can often reflflect just as much about humans. “Where it gets blended is more like the real world. So, you’ve got black and white, but there’s really gray,” Selman said.

Selman’s expertise shined through his answers. Professor Clint Selman is a comic fan at heart, and he allows his passion for fiction to permeate his everyday life. He exemplifies the notion that you can be whoever you want and wear that badge proudly wherever you go because an interest is a part of you.

Most Popular