It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s an Immigrant

Superman, dedicated to fighting for “truth, justice and the American way,” might be the country’s most iconic fictional immigrant. However, as a series of readings and discussions at The Ohio State University is exploring, the Man of Steel is not the only comic book character who can be considered an immigrant.

Jenny Robb, curator at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, told the OSU Lantern her mind turned to comic books when she heard the university would be holding a series of events to foster a campus-wide discussion about immigration during the 2011-2012 academic year.

“It struck me that there are a lot of comic books, or graphic novels as they are called now, that deal with the issue of immigration and would be very interesting to discuss,” Robb told the source.

Robb contacted Jared Gardner, an OSU English professor who organized four “Immigration in Comics” readings and discussions. The first event, held on January 9, focused on comic book representations of early 20th century Japanese immigrants to the United States. The second event, on January 23, will focus on comic books of the 1930s, including Superman.

Referring to Superman, Gardner told the Lantern, “It’s the story of a young boy who gets sent from his home planet to the middle of America and takes on a new identity and lives like all immigrants, like all Americans torn between two different identities.

The third and fourth events in the series are scheduled for February 6 and February 20.

Just west of Columbus, the city of Dayton, Ohio, recently launched an initiative to become more immigrant-friendly.

Among other projects, the “Welcome Dayton” initiative will create an immigrant-friendly business zone, promote citizenship classes to increase the rate of naturalization among Dayton immigrants and improve outreach regarding the municipal services available to them.