The Dharma of Doctor Strange

The Shifting Representations of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism within a Comic Book Serial

Authors

  • Joel Gruber University of California, Santa Barbara and University of California ,San Diego

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v18i3.19420

Keywords:

Doctor Strange, Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism, Popular Culture, Orientalism, Comic Books, Graphic Novels

Abstract

In 1963, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created a mystical comic book superhero named Doctor Strange. In the last fifty years, the character has appeared in hundreds of monthly serials, guest cameos, and graphic novels. In this article, I argue that the sequential panels of art, along with the narratives plotting Doctor Strange’s adventures, provide three different (but interrelated) histories of late twentieth-/early twenty-first century America. First, they document a visual history of a distinctly American pop-fascination with the “Orient,” and with Tibet in particular. Second, over the course of a half-century the comic serial maps the Americanization of quasi-occult and quasi-Buddhist practices. Third, the transformation of Doctor Strange, as an individual with hopes, fears, and an evolving worldview, provides insight into the implied but seldom expressed religiosity of generations of Buddhist studies scholars.

Author Biography

Joel Gruber, University of California, Santa Barbara and University of California ,San Diego

Joel Gruber is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at UCSB, USA with an emphasis on Buddhist Studies.

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Published

2015-09-21

How to Cite

Gruber, J. (2015). The Dharma of Doctor Strange: The Shifting Representations of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism within a Comic Book Serial. Implicit Religion, 18(3), 247–371. https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v18i3.19420

Issue

Section

Articles