Saturday, September 3, 2011

working-class superheroes

In 2005, a list of working-class superheroes was begun at the WORKING-CLASS HEROES PROJECT. It hasn't been expanded, and comments have been turned off, so I'll see if anyone wants to expand it here.

Their list had these caveats:
Masked adventurers and comic-strip stars welcome. Please note: for the purposes of this list, I am only interested in heroes with working-class jobs (ie, blue-collar/pink-collar/"proletarian"). I will accept tradespeople, factory workers, farm workers, unemployed/poor, craftsmen, etc. NO white-collar workers, rich people, politicians, government agents, or cops. I will accept Private Eyes and small business owners ("petit bourgeois") in a pinch.
Since I'm taking this on, I'd prefer a traditional definition of working-class: people who sell their labor because they don't own the means of production. So I'm dividing the list into three: blue collar, pink collar, and white collar.

I like this 'cause it makes me happy to add an essential working-class superhero: Clark Kent. Sure, Superman's got the ultimate hideaway in the north, but from everything I've read, he's squatting there. Who could he have bought the land for the Fortress of Solitude from?

Blue collar:

Shoeshine Boy/Underdog -- shoeshine boy
Luke Cage/Powerman --Hero for Hire
Johnny Chambers/Johnny Quick --newsreel camera operator
Fred Drake/Stuntman --stuntman and movie double/extra
Pat Dugan/Stripesy --chauffeur to rich kid Sylvester Pemberton (Star-Spangled Kid)
Freddie Freeman/Captain Marvel JR --crippled newspaper delivery boy
Buford T. Hollis/Razorback --truck driver
Kato --limo driver
Hollis Mason/Nite Owl I --mechanic
Obelix --menhir delivery man
Peter Parker/Spider-man --photographer
Penrod Pooch/Hong Kong Phooey --janitor
Popeye --sailor
Chuck Taine/Bouncing Boy --delivery boy
Ted Grant/Wildcat: boxer
Patricia Patrios/Pat Patriot: assembly line worker
Kip Burland/Black Hood: policeman

Pink collar:

Barbara Gordon/Batgirl --librarian
Louise Grant/The Blonde Phantom --secretary to P.I. Mark Mason
Ma Hunkel/Red Tornado --housewife/mother/grocery store owner
Dinah Lance/Black Canary --florist

Diana Prince/Wonder Woman --princess who works as nurse

White collar:

Clark Kent/Superman: farmboy/reporter

ETA: I agree with Bryan Munn that the list of white men who have white collar jobs is kind of boring, so no need to need to add more of them. Clark Kent should be mentioned for three reasons, though: he was the first superhero, he grew up on a small farm before he became a reporter, and in the 1930s, no one expected to get rich as a reporter.


Suggestions from James Veitch:
Would small business owners count? Jack "Starman" Knight has his collectibles shop.

Cliff "Rocketeer" Secord is a Depression Era pilot, stunts, barnstorming.
Johnny "Ghost Rider" Blaze makes ends meet as a stunt cyclist.
Guido "Strong Guy" of X-Factor, besides being a PI in Jamie "Multiple Man" Madrox's agency, is also a rock star's body guard and legbreaker.
Cliff "Robotman" Steel was a racecar driver, and as working class as you can get.

Peter Parker is an advisor with Reed Richards' Future Foundation and has worked in a scientific capacity for Stark International. He's no longer blue collar.

John Henry "Steel" Irons was a construction worker when we first met him, though he was already an inventor and weapons designer.

Most superheroes are scientists, inventors, military, police, or relies on a trust fund. That limits it a bit.

Kyle "Green Lantern" Raynor, commercial artist. 
Buddy "Animal Man" Baker, stunt man.
Grace Choi of the Outsiders was a bouncer.
Dan "Blue Devil" Cassidy, stunt man.
Jeff "Vortex" Murphy, Coast Guard helicopter pilot.
Wally "Flash/Kid Flash" West, mechanic 
And three members of the MysteryMen, associates of The Flaming Carrot, are blue collar:
The Sphinx, busboy in a TexMex restaurant.
Mr Furious, repo man (comics), junkyard breaker (movie).
The Shoveler, ditch-digger and quarryman (comics), tunnel construction (movie)
Suggestions from Isaiah Harrison:
Dick Grayson became a police officer.
John Stewart was a Marine. (ETA: Who became an architect.)
Guy Gardner is a Barkeep.