Michael Chabon pens, “An essay in unitard theory,” in a recent New Yorker, discussing the phenomenon of comic-book superhero attire, and the rich symbolism within. It’s an interesting article, and he keeps it from become too abstract and pretentious by including, throughout and primarily with a vignette that closes the essay, thoughts on how his childhood was shaped by such fantastical characters. The whole article is worth reading, but I really liked this passage (especially the end, which I found a particularly effective analogy), which follows commentary on the futility of those who attempt to recreate their favorite superhero’s costume for various festivals and conventions:
This sad outcome even in the wake of thousands of dollars spent and months of hard work given to sewing and to packing foam rubber into helmets has an obvious, an unavoidable, explanation: a superhero’s costume is constructed not of fabric, foam rubber, or adamantium but of halftone dots, Pantone color values, inked containment lines, and all the cartoonist’s sleight of hand. The superhero costume as drawn disdains the customary relationship in the fashion world between sketch and garment. It makes no suggestions. It has no agenda. Above all, it is not waiting to find fulfillment as cloth draped on a body. A constructed superhero costume is a replica with no original, a model built on a scale of x:1.
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