Professors Host Book Signing for Award-Winning Book

Kailene Nye, Editor-in-Chief

They’ve taught a class together since 2008 and hosted a pop culture podcast since 2016. Now, they’ve accomplished an even bigger task — they’ve written a book together.

Dr. Patrick Hamilton, associate professor of English, and Dr. Allan Austin, professor of history, have come together once again to co-write “All New, All Different? A History of Race and the American Superhero.” The two held a book signing and discussion on Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Catherine Evans McGowan Room of the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library.

Hamilton and Austin said the idea for the book, officially released in November 2019 through the University of Texas, came from their shared interest in comic books and the “Race and Graphic Narrative in the Postwar United States” class they taught together.

“Almost as soon as we met as colleagues here, we realized we had this shared childhood experience with comic books and the way in which those comic books fit within the scholarship that we do as well,” Austin explained. “We both study sort of race and ethnicity in the American experience from different angles. At some point, we were like we should teach a class about it and, when we started teaching the class, we realized there was no book. One of us said, I don’t remember who, but somebody said we should write the book and then all of a sudden we find ourselves writing the book.”

Hamilton said all the material on the subject of race and comics typically focused on one rather than race as a whole.

“There are books on African Americans in comics, there are books on Native Americans, there are  books on Latinos, but there’s nothing sort of looking at those together and looking at the way in which patterns of representation go across or transcend different ethnicities, so that’s another thing our book sort of brings to the table,” he said.

It took the duo about seven years to publish their ideas and both had only positive things to say about their collaboration experience.

Hamilton admired the way they were able to make their two voices blend together.

“The pitfall you have of two people writing a book is that it sounds like two different people at points in the book,” he explained. “As we’ve gotten the peer reviews and things like that, no one has ever said that, so one of the things that’s really nice is that it does seem like the book is some kind of blend of our two voices.”

He also said he was pleased the two made it through the writing and publishing process “without killing each other.”

“I have a feeling that these collaborations tend to be much more difficult than this one ended up being,” Hamilton added. “We still speak to each other. We’re still friends. We haven’t burned any bridges yet.”

Austin said their ability to take criticism from each other was a major help throughout the process.


“Both of us have done a pretty decent job throughout the process of accepting criticism from the other guy,” he said. “When you write something, it seems like it’s really good, but then Dr. Hamilton would come back and say, ‘It could be better’ or ‘It should be cut’ or ‘It needs to be rearranged’. I think our ability to accept the criticism and let the other person shape what was originally something we drafted contributes to all of it.”

The main message the two want people to take away from the book is that comics and superheroes aren’t just mindless entertainment.

“What we hope people get from the book is the idea of superhero popular culture has helped shape and constitute ways in which people think about race in the United States,” Hamilton said.

Austin agreed and then added he hopes that idea becomes integrated as a way to look at the history of race in the United States.

“Another takeaway I think is important for this book is that people who read it can step away and have a deeper understanding of the way in which every day Americans have thought about and acted on issues of race from 1938 to present. That it becomes a history of American racial thoughts and race relations in that way,” he said.

The 392-page book has already earned success, as it won an award from the Pop Culture Association shortly after being released to the public. Although the official announcement has yet to be made, both professors expressed their joy upon getting the news.

“When you write a book, you spend a lot of time at a table by yourself, just with yourself. Even when you’re writing with somebody, you don’t spend a lot of time with them when writing,” Austin explained. “It’s a very solitary and isolating kind of thing. Obviously, you write because you hope you’re writing something that matters. So, for me, it was really nice to have peers in the field say the seven years you’ve spent sitting alone at a desk matters.”

Hamilton said it was nice to have the work recognized as significant within their field.

“I think both of us are really proud of the book all on its own, but it’s also really nice to have the award,” he said. “It’s like, you know what, we did kind of create something that other people think is significant and contributes to the field of popular culture. That’s very rewarding. And for it to be from an organization that we’ve both, in one way or another, presented at or been associated with, that feels really good, too.”

Both men learned the value and creativity that comes from collaboration through working together on the book.

“I think if either of us had written this book individually, it would be a very different book or it would not exist at all because I’m not sure the idea comes out of either one of us alone,” Hamilton said. “I found the whole experience with Allan and the ways in which someone coming from a different perspective can change and alter the direction of the book in very positive ways, that was something I took away. There’s ways in which things I would have never thought of on my own came out because of either something Allan wrote or edits he made to something I wrote. That collaborative process creates something that is unique.”

Austin said working with Hamilton reiterated the importance of collaboration to him.

“It teaches you a really important lesson, too. I always try to say in the acknowledgments that books have one name on the cover, or in this case two names, but they’re never the product of an individual person,” he said.

The pair said they have not thought about any future collaboration like this yet, as they would like to focus more on their individual projects for the moment. However, Hamilton is sure their collaboration will live on in other things.

“I’m sure I will read Allan’s stuff that he’s working on; he will read mine and collaborate that way,” he said. “In one way or another, our collaboration will continue. Whether it’s producing an actual co-written thing or helping each other with the stuff we’re doing individually, that will all continue. I’m sure down the road we’ll do something together again.”