Comic book superheroes assemble at Dunedin Historical Museum

An exhibit in Dunedin shows how comic books have chronicled social and cultural norms.

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Published June 4 2014
Updated June 4 2014

DUNEDIN — Square-jawed, muscular male superheroes and shapely female crime fighters challenge the laws of physics all summer long at the Dunedin Historical Museum.

"Comics: The Superpowered History," is an artful throwback to the Golden Age of comic books (approximately 1938 to 1950). The genre flourished after Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman in 1938.

Plenty of vintage comic books are on display, courtesy of Emerald City Comics and private collectors. The narrative explains that this art form not only entertained kids and adults but also served to reflect and document the social and cultural norms of the times.

Take for instance a Superman comic book dated November 1949. The cover asks if Superman prefers Lois Lane as a blonde, brunette or redhead.

Such a question would be cast as sexist in today's society.

A book called Male Call is a collection of 112 GI comic strips featuring the "effortless war activities of Miss Lace."

With her torn dresses and provocative poses, Miss Lace "was used to boost troop morale," said Stephanie Chill, museum operations assistant. "She was definitely risque for her time."

After World War II, comic books lost popularity due to competition from television, Senate investigations and Dr. Fredric Wertham's book, The Seduction of the Innocent, which accused the industry of corrupting youth.

In response, comic book companies created the now defunct Comics Code Authority, which banned blood, gore, vampires, ghouls and more. Females should be drawn realistically without exaggeration, the code stated.

It was during the 1970s and early 1980s that black and female heroes were given roles as main characters. One 1972 comic book on display features Luke Cage, one of the first African American superheroes to star in a comic book series.

Visitors will see original artists' sketches and finished products, figurines and other collectible mementos, Batman in his "bat cave," Clark Kent transmuting to Superman and masks from Iron Man. The 1950s Adventures of Superman runs continuously on a vintage TV topped with a rabbit ears antenna.

Children can engage in "cosplay," short for costume play, in a special area that features masks and capes. Bring your camera — a blue sky backdrop is provided for flying heroes while a lineup background is for crime fighters.

The museum has a quite a few events planned over the summer including a comic book appraisal day July 26, lectures by comic book writer Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Amanda Conner on Aug. 16 and pub crawls and costume contests June 13 and Aug. 23.

People of all ages are loving the exhibit, said Lauren Sherbuk, museum coordinator.

"Originally we were marketing this to kids, but the adults' response has been overwhelming."

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at


Midnite Madness: A night of activities for kids ages 9-16 includes an outdoor laser tag arena, inflatables, gaming systems and more. Waiver required for entrance. 7 p.m. $20. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 550 Laura Lane, Dunedin. (727) 738-2920.

Pajama 5K : The event consists of a 5K run through the streets of Safety Harbor and finishes with a beer party in your pajamas at Safety Harbor's waterfront park. 7:30 p.m. $30. Safety Harbor City Marina, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane. (727) 420-4666.

Tarpon Springs Summer Performing Arts Festival: The Prisoner of Second Avenue: Mel Edison is a well-paid executive of a high-end Manhattan firm when he gets the ax. Mel does the only thing left for him to do: He has a nervous breakdown and it's the best thing that ever happened to him. 8 p.m. $16, $14 members/students; all seats $10 opening night. Tarpon Springs Cultural Center , 101 S Pinellas Ave. (727) 942-5605.

Gigi: The Players of Safety Harbor present the nonmusical 1951 romantic comedy. 8 p.m. $10. Safety Harbor Public Library, 101 Second St. N. (727) 724-1525, ext. 4112.

Dog Sees God: The play imagines Peanuts characters as teenagers and all the changes and struggles of that tumultuous time in life. This show is for mature audiences and contains adult themes and language. 8 p.m. $17. West Coast Players Theatre, 21905 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. (727) 437-2363.

Broadway Concert: The program will include music from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Andrew Lloyd Webber, performed by St. Alfred's Adult Choir, the Cambridge Ringers and solo vocalists. 8 p.m. $10, $20 family. St. Alfred's Episcopal Church, 1601 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor. (727) 785-1601.


Beach to Bayou 5K Run: With the start and finish lines near the Sponge Docks this year, the annual race is a flat, fast, out and back course. Net proceeds go to the Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital Foundation. 7:30 a.m. $25. Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, 20 Dodecanese Blvd. (727) 943-3651.

Celebrity Golf Tournament: Foursomes tee off for this 18-hole scramble format tournament with contests, an auction and mulligans. Former Buc Donnie Abraham hosts. Benefits the football program at Clearwater High School. 8 a.m. $125. Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club, 8001 Cumberland Road, Largo. (727) 403-4516.

The Breast 5K Ever: This noncompetitive 5K run/walk at John Chesnut Park raises funds and awareness for Triple Negative Breast Cancer. 8:30 a.m. $30. John Chesnut Sr. Park , 2200 East Lake Road. (727) 669-1951.

The Way We Worked at the Boot Ranch: Kimen Mitchell will re-enact Lois Oxnam, a ranch manager for Al Boyd's world famous Boot Ranch from 1953 to 1978. 1-2 p.m. Free. East Lake Community Library, 4125 East Lake Road. (727) 773-2665.

ParrotHead Party: In the spirit of Jimmy Buffet, this year's tropical-themed party features arts and crafts displays and nonstop island music by Retro Express capped with a four-hour concert by the Caribbean Chillers. No coolers. 2-10 p.m. Free. Old Palm Harbor Main Street, 1190 Georgia Ave. (727) 787-4700.


Dunedin Triathlon: This annual fundraiser event by the Rotary Club of Dunedin features a 0.25-mile swim alonge Honeymoon Island beach, a 12-mile bike ride in a 6-mile loop over the Dunedin Causeway Bridge and a 3.1-mile run along the coastline. Ages 16 and younger will swim 400 yards, bike 6 miles, and finish with a 1-mile run. 7:30 a.m. $35-$135. Honeymoon Island State Park, 1 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin. (727) 469-5942.


Move Live on Tour: Superstar siblings Julianne and Derek Hough will star in their own all-new dance production. 5 p.m. $35-$75. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400.


Lunch & Learn: Award-winning metal artist and craftsman Nicholas Toth will discuss his hand-crafted diving helmets and original copper and brass works of art. Ticket includes talk and a box lunch. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. $15, $12 members/students. Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum, 100 Beekman Lane. (727) 942-5605.


Project: Shattered Silence: The collection of real-life experiences of young people in our community demonstrates that the road to healing begins when you open your heart and reveal your story. The stories are true and many may be shocking. 7:30 p.m. $15. Ruth Eckerd Hall Murray Studio Theater, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400.