Monday, September 14, 2015

History of Swamp Thing

With the Terrebonne Comic Con just a short week away (September 20, 2015, 2-5pm at the Main Branch), all the library is thinking about is superheroes and comics. When this library starts thinking about comics, of course we think about Houma's own superhero, Swamp Thing. We even made it into the comic itself, as you can see from Saga of Swamp Thing Vol. 2!

The character has had a long and strange history since he rose from the swamps. His current story, from DC Comics website:
Alec Holland was an idealistic scientist who was synthesizing a top-secret chemical in his hidden lab in the marshlands. But after a bomb in his office explodes, the young scientist is murdered. Or so it seems. Because rising in his place is the Swamp Thing, a creature made of vegetation that’s absorbed Alec Holland’s memories, personality—and grief.
The monstrous Swamp Thing can control every iota of plant life on this planet, from the fungus on stale bread to forests of towering oaks. Superhumanly strong and grotesque, he can grow himself a full array of titanic bodies from even the tiniest sprout of green. A living embodiment of the power and terror in our environment, the Swamp Thing protects both humanity and the environment—usually from each other.
Copyright DC Comics, art by Bernie Wrightson
Created by Lein Wein (the same man responsible for Wolverine and dozens of other characters) and artist Berni Wrightson (later a frequent collaborator with Stephen King) in a 1971 issue of House of Secrets, Swamp Thing began as a one time publication. When publishers saw how popular the Houma-born creature was, they ordered a full title of the creature. Wein later said while creating the character he never had a name for it, just "kept calling it that swamp thing I'm working on.1"  

The character was very close to Marvel's character created about the same time, "Man-Thing," which was created by Wein's roommate, Gerry Conway as well as Roy Thomas. However, the creators realized their respective "Things" owed a lot to a character called "The Heap" from the 1940s, so the matter never came to court.

After some success, the first run of the original Swamp Thing comic ended only to have new life in the 1980s. To capitalize on the Wes Craven movie about the creature, DC Comics brought him back. When Alan Moore became the writer of this second series, Swamp Thing became a critically acclaimed comic, breathing new life into both the character and horror comics as a whole while also discussing spirituality and ecological issues. 

Published on and off ever since, Swamp Thing has continued to delight readers around the world with tales from the Louisiana swamps.

1. Ho, Richard (November 2004). "Who's Your Daddy??". Wizard (Wizard Entertainment) (140): 68–74.

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