The Internal Monologue of a Thesis Writer (Part 1)

Several people have asked me what it’s like to tackle a 15,000 word thesis in an Honours course. I think it’s time you and I found out.


Ok, so it’s a cultural study on superheroes and the comic book medium, specifically relating to Batman and Captain America. First things first; introduction. Something simple, 500 words or so. Nothing too special.

In the year 2007

No, sounds a bit “Battlefield: Earth”. Drop the “the year” bit.

In 2007, a man died in New York.

No, no, too melodramatic. You want to focus on the death of Cap as your opening paragraph, but it needs to be subtle. Less “Days of our Lives”.

In 2007, a great man was murdered in New York.

Yeah, yeah, good stuff. Very gritty – kinda “Homicide: Life on the Street” a bit. Keep going.

This man was born to a simple life in Brooklyn, and at the height of the Axis terror of World War II he was called upon to serve his country.

Yeah, sounding good so far. Let’s try and make the comic book part of it a bit oblique for now; paint him as a real man, and that his death had as a big an impact as the passing of a real national hero.

He served as a soldier in the darkest days of that War, and emerged as a public hero who stood for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Despite his many years of loyal service to his country, he was assassinated on the steps of a courthouse – on his way to stand trial for the crime of upholding the very values America has long stood for.

AWESOME. Loving this. Can’t make it too soppy, but the portrait of the national hero works well as long as it’s no jingoistic.

This man’s killing

No, too simple. Add some flavour.

This man’s unceremonious execution became a spectacle the likes of which the world had not seen since the 1980s.

By now only the most savvy comic readers would’ve pegged this for what it is – will they get the 1980s bit that refers to the death of Barry Allen, which was almost as big as the death of Steve Rogers? I don’t want to make it too overt – maybe I’ll add an annotation later on.

*Footnote 1 – The 1980s in this instance refers to the death of Barry Allen – also known as The Flash – during Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was almost as large an event as

No, too unwieldy. If there’s a rationale at the end I’ll put it there.


Ok, back to the main stuff. Time to reveal the deceased’s identity; can’t play up the enigma too long.

The man in question was Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America, assassinated by agents of his arch-nemesis, the villainous Nazi known as the Red Skull.

It sounds a little retro to put it like that – makes me think of “Watch Courageous Batman fight the Dastardly Joker!” like some old school B-movie poster. Maybe a mix of nostalgic and truth is the way to go. Can always edit it later.

The death of this national hero

No, used something like that already. Can’t be too jingoistic.

The death of this great man

Too simplistic.

The death of this paragon of virtue

Hrm…could work. Might become a little unwieldy if used too often. We’ll see how we go.

The death of this paragon of virtue sent waves not only through the media outlets within the story itself but also the real world’s; the comic book issue depicting his actual demise sold out the day it hit shelves, the death itself was covered by high-profile news services like the New York Times

Get rid of like – too many “likes” and I’m Paris Hilton.

news services such as the New York Times and ABC News, and a simulacra of the Captain’s iconic shield was bequeathed posthumously to popular talk show host Stephen Colbert as dictated by the will of the deceased.

Sounding good. I’m assuming everyone knows who Stephen Colbert is, even if they don’t watch him. Seriously reckon an annotated version might still be a way to go.

The murder of Captain America was seen as a tear-jerking, polarizing event that gripped not only America itself but the world at large.

And all this just for a comic book character.

Last bit’s too analytical. Be a bit more grandiose.

And all this just for a superhero.

Juxtaposition of “just for” and a grand term like “superhero” is too jarring; superheroes don’t “just” get something like that, it implies too much little-ness – giving something grand only to someone small. A superhero would be entitled to something bigger, especially someone like Cap. Let’s try instead…

And all this just for a guy drawn on a piece of paper.

Nice. Simple, direct, and puts the preceding paragraphs in a bit of a new frame of reference. Seeing the tremendous impact a character on paper has on the world. Awesome.

I think that’s 6 hours well spent.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s