As a complex social process, cultural legitimation is difficult to observe because its various modalities refer to distinct realities. Legitimation is an intricate mechanism that can be broken down into three modalities that function in relation to one another: visibility, recognition, and legitimacy. The legitimation of any cultural practice requires effects of consecration, that is, phenomena that “confirm” its accession to the dominant cultural hierarchy. This chapter examines how comics and comic books are inscribed in America’s cultural and social fields. It discusses the mechanisms and agents of internal consecration within the comic book field: the prizes, the specialty magazines, the fans, and the conventions. It also describes the second wave of comics fandom, the impetus of which came from a small group of adult science fiction fans who used to enjoy comic books in their childhood and whose interest was revived by DC Comics’s resurrection of the superhero genre in the late 1950s.
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