Publication Date

Spring 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Kate Parker Horigan (Director), Timothy Evans, and Andy Kolovos

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This thesis explores why adults read comic books. This research used the ethnographic method and interviewing eleven people, four women, seven male, as its primary source. Based on information and common themes gathered from interviews, I built this thesis into one introduction, three body chapters, and a conclusion.

In the first chapter, I argued that comics could function the same as myths and explained this function and related examples under the “mythic effect” name. In the second chapter, I discussed how my informants use reading comics as a means to escape their everyday lives and how sometimes this escapism carries a nostalgic feeling for some of them. At the end of this chapter, I demonstrated that reading comics can be considered a stigmatized activity and how my informants react to the common stereotypes around reading comics. The third chapter is about the relationship between comics and gender. I analyzed this relationship in two parts: representation of gender in comics and reading comics as a gendered activity.

I concluded that reading comics for my informants has more meanings than just entertainment. It can inspire them to make changes in the real world and alter their perspective. Also, media and the internet have significant roles in broadening comics’ audiences and challenging gender dynamics and stereotypes around reading comics.


American Popular Culture | Critical and Cultural Studies | Folklore | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication