While Hollywood has long dominated the live-action market for superhero films because of the high quality special effects its big budgets are able to generate, the animated superhero offers a distinctly different picture. For example, Japanese animation is filled with superheroic characters for girls and boys, not least of which might be Sailor Moon or the Gatchaman phenomenon. These too, could quite rightly be considered some of the most important of superheroes for this project, given the ways that Japanese animation has traversed the globe, attracting wide audiences of fans. Animation, then, provides a venue for the superhero that we believe might be usefully explored in a project like this one.
Moving beyond Japan, too, there are numerous animated heroes we might attend to, both on television and in film. From new computer generated French animated film The Prodigies (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6bt6Ds3g_Q) by Studio 37 and Warner Brothers, to British variations in television cel animation like Superted (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1lTt1jZekw&feature=related)or Bananaman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIHEFlD_VDM&feature=related), animation from around the world is replete with idiosyncratic versions of the superhero. These animated superheroes are intriguingly non-uniform in nature – offering films and television shows made to appeal to disparate audience demographics, stories with themes from the emphatically local to the global, visual styles from the realist to the surreal and histories that are intrinsically linked to shifts in notions of the popular around the world. These animated heroes are radically under-represented in academic writing, and we expect that this collection will highlight some of their importance in maintaining the global presence of superheroes even in moments where there were very few live action, big budget superhero films being made.