MAT 259 - 2011W

Superhero Popularity


Comic books and graphic novels belong to the most popular Dewey class in the Seattle Public Library. Over the past few years, many of these comic books have been turned into blockbuster movies. The goal of this project is to enable the exploration of data about this part of pop culture. The interactive visualization provides a way to compare the relative popularity (by number of library checkouts) of various characters and to discover the most popular titles for a given series; it also shows the effect Hollywood movie releases have on the popularity of the original works.

To limit the number of comics shown, the visualization only includes the checkout data for superhero comics that had movies released between January 2005 and December 2010; the data for the related superhero teams is also included. The checkout data for the first four months of 2005 and for December of 2010 is incomplete.

The visualization includes movies based on all comic books and graphic novels, not just superhero comics. The information used are the date of release, and the opening weekend box office. If a movie had a limited initial release, then the second weekend box office is used.

Data sources: The Seattle Public Library, The Internet Movie Database


The legend on the right side lets the user select the comics for which data is displayed by clicking on the name of the superhero (or team).

The vertical scaling of the graph can be adjusted by using the mouse wheel. The number of checkouts are shown as a curved line, with a data point for each month in the time range. Holding the mouse over a point on the line displays more detailed information: total checkout count, number of different titles, list of the most popular titles with individual checkout count.

The timeline highlights the months that had movie releases. Holding the mouse over those months displays the names, dates, and box office figures of the movies released that month.

Interactive Visualization

link | download | source

Project Evolution

The initial doodle shows the basic concept of the visualization.

Many variations were tried out during development, this is an example of an early version.

Screenshot of final version.