chapter  3
13 Pages

David Bowie and the Art of Performance

BySHELTON WALDREP

In the case of the American band KISS, whose personae were entangled with the codes of visually oriented graphic novel superheroes, the relationship among visual, sonic, and kinesthetic aspects of performance invites critical reconsideration. Glam's emphasis on performed personae and visually conceived spectacle facilitated its particularly successful crossover into the world of comic books, and the American exponents of glam-infused performance have exhibited the largest impact in that arena. KISS's engagement of the conventions of glam performance serves as a type of commentary on various strands of rock culture, including glam performance. The identities and powers associated with the sonic dimensions of live music and the narrative conventions of glam performance were explicitly and visually reinscribed into graphic narratives. Even when explicating the superheroes' emphasis on freedom and the question of reality, however, the Marvel series complicates the superhero archetype.