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Where The Hell Is Springfield / Comic Books

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  • Riverdale in Archie Comics:
    • In very early Archie stories, Riverdale is explicitly situated somewhere in Massachusetts, the home state of creator Bob Montana. For example, Mr. Lodge first appears as a Massachusetts senator, who appears to be named after a contemporary real-life senator from Massachusetts. It appears to draw heavily from Montana’s hometown of Haverhill, whose sole salient geographic feature is the Merrimack River winding its way through town (hence the name “Riverdale”). This location has long since ceased to be canon.
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    • Later stories imply that Riverdale is close enough to New York to be a reasonable drive away, putting it somewhere on the East Coast. A few others, though, have implied that it’s in California.
    • Riverdale is consistently close to Sabrina's hometown of Greendale, which itself is another example, but in a few stories is located near Salem, Massachusetts. Because... witches, see?
    • Eventually, a “Where is Riverdale?” contest was held, which revealed that Riverdale is “all of America, including Canada and Mexico.”
    • Afterlife with Archie has the cast flee town heading to the CDC in Pittsburgh, stopping on the way in Vermont. That most likely puts Riverdale in Maine or New Hampshire, in that continuity at least.
  • In Gold Digger, the Diggers family lives in Atlanta, Georgia. However, since the whole point of the comic is that Gina is an Adventurer Archaeologist and explorer, most of the stories are set in various “lost lands” like El Dorado or Atlantis whose locations are, of course, never specified.
  • Duckburg and Mouseton from the Disney comics and cartoons.
    • Duckburg is in “Calisota,” a Springfield of a state. The name itself is a portmanteau which comes from the description that it can have winters as harsh as Minnesota and summers as hot as California. Its location was unspecified in Carl Barks’ time; he would joke that it can’t be found on the map because it’s under the letter “A” in “U.S.A.” Don Rosa gave it a specific location, in the northern third of California, which also happens to coincide with the proposed State of Jefferson.
    • Mouseton is sometimes shown as very close to Duckburg, as seen as early as Romano Scarpa’s “Emperor of Calisota” (1959), which also identified Calisota with the California coast.
      • In several classical strips by Floyd Gottfredson, the city where Mickey lives is implied to be somewhere on the East Coast. In a couple of those adventures, Mickey talks about "going to the West". Speaking of Scarpa, the current standing in Disney Italy is that Duckburg is somewhere in California and Mouseton is somewhere in New England.
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    • One DuckTales episode broke with the trend, though, with the characters finding the city of Atlantis, which is clearly not in the Pacific Ocean.
  • In the G.I. Joe comics, one of Cobra's bases is “a nice little town called Springfield,” a Stepford Suburbia Town with a Dark Secret somewhere in the United States. It’s become something of a Running Gag, especially given that since there are so many Springfields, there may be more than one with a Cobra base. For example:
    • Cobra troops disguise themselves as a marching band from Springfield and discuss the idea that every state seems to have a Springfield – one quips, “Yeah, and some have two or three.”
    • One storyline has Joe brought to Springfield, only to escape and try to mount a counterattack. But by the time he does so, Cobra has already evacuated, suggesting they could just bug out to another Springfield.
    • In one continuity, Cobra Commander hails from a fictional Springfield on the southern tip of Staten Island, New York (which was actually just farmland in the 1980s when it was written, rather than suburbia).
    • The TV series had an episode “There’s No Place Like Springfield”, where an amnesiac Shipwreck wakes up in a world with Cobra destroyed and the Joes disbanded, gets married, has a kid, and settles down in a town called Springfield which turns out to have been Cobra Island all along.
  • British comics The Beano and The Dandy (made by the same company) are contained within their own fictional towns that are meant to be somewhere in the UK, called Beanotown and Dandytown respectively. The two towns are rivals, so it’s assumed that they’re close together, but beyond that, there’s no indication of where they are, and the geography will happily change as convenient.
  • Viz is an adult pastiche of The Beano and The Dandy, and it’s set vaguely in North East England in the fictional town of Fulchester (perhaps just to name its football club “F.U.F.C.”), somewhere near Newcastle and Sunderland, with all that implies.
    The Clitoris of the North – a hidden gem that’s hard to find but gives great pleasure when you do.
  • Astro City is in an undefined location, and Kurt Busiek implies that he knows where it is but refuses to tell. He will say only that its real-life location is a small town rather than a city. Some clues (big mountains, radio station KBAC, and apparent proximity to California) put it somewhere in the western United States. The town founder was apparently on his way to California when his wagon broke an axle and he just gave up.
  • The geography of the DC Universe and its fictional cities is vague and inconsistent at best, but some facts have been "officially" or quasi-officially established from time to time. DC's “house fanzine” from The '70s, Amazing World of DC Comics, established some city locations, which were mostly followed in The Atlas of the DC Universe, a supplement for the DC Heroes Roleplaying Game. Some of this information can be found categorized in this website. What's weird about the DC universe compared to the Marvel universe is how many fictional cities DC has; the JLA/Avengers miniseries suggests that this is because the DC Earth is physically larger.
    • Metropolis, home of Superman, has rarely been nailed down to a precise location in the comic books. Where it does have a precise location, it tends to vary:
      • In the comic strip The World’s Greatest Superheroes (which ran from 1979-1982), Metropolis is unequivocally located in Delaware. Subsequently, this location was codified in the Atlas and in the JSA vs. Kobra miniseries.
      • Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster grew up in Cleveland, and Shuster also lived in Toronto until he was 10. Both have been suggested as inspirations for Metropolis.
      • New York City is another inspiration, given its reputation as the Big Applesauce (DC was also headquartered there until a move to Burbank in 2016). The 1978 movie and its sequels made this explicit. However, The DCU does contain its own separate New York.
      • Superboy series tend to use Chicago as an analogue, if only for it being “the nearest big city” to Clark Kent’s hometown of Smallville (which is itself a Springfield, but at least we know it’s in Kansas).
      • Occasionally, Metropolis has been placed in the fictional state of “New Troy”. On other occasions, “New Troy” refers to a part of Metropolis (such as in the Atlas).
    • Gotham City, home of Batman, has even more varied locations:
      • It may or may not be very close to Metropolis. Some works (such as World’s Greatest Superheroes) suggest that Gotham and Metropolis are practically twin cities. This often puts Gotham across the Delaware Bay from Metropolis, in New Jersey.
      • It’s also often used as an analogue for New York City, even more so than Metropolis, because it can also make use of The Big Rotten Apple tropes. Most maps of Gotham City suggest it shares some aspects of New York’s geography, including a big body of water to the east and much of the action taking place on a large, inland island like Manhattan. Batman: The Animated Series and its tie-in comics like to play up the New York-style imagery as well (although it’s inconsistent on if Gotham actually is in New York state or its own “Gotham state”). As is sometimes said, “Metropolis is New York by day, and Gotham City is New York at night.” Given that New York City still exists in its own right in the DCU, Metropolis and Gotham are often placed as both being fairly close to New York (such as one of them being across the Hudson River in New Jersey and the other further east on Long Island).
      • The DC Heroes Role Playing Game used the basic coastline of the Providence, Rhode Island area and overlaid Gotham-specific landmarks like Stately Wayne Manor (on the analogue for Aquidneck Island) on it.
      • The Young Justice animated series puts it in Connecticut, around where Bridgeport is in real life.
      • A crossover with Spawn placed Gotham at the former site of the disappeared colony of Roanoake in Virginia.
      • Chicago has gained currency as an inspiration city after The Dark Knight was filmed there and showcased the city rather extensively. Batman writer Neal Adams added that the Windy City's mafia history and predominance of alleys (which are rare in NYC) helps.
    • Central City, home of The Flash (Barry Allen), and Keystone City, home of The “Original” and the third Flash, Jay Garrick and Wally West:
      • The Atlas puts it in Missouri, across the Mississippi River from Keystone City (which places it in the neighboring Illinois).
      • Pre-Crisis, Central City may have been in Ohio, and Keystone City may have been in the Keystone State, Pennsylvania.
      • Sometimes Central City is suggested as having been named for being "in the center of" the United States. However, this might mean very different things depending on when the city was founded.
      • Silver Age and Bronze Age stories quite often depict Central City with prominent mountain ranges (and mountain caves used as supervillain hideouts) nearby, which would be inconsistent with a Midwestern location.
      • In The New Frontier, a character refers to Barry as “the Illinois Flash”.
      • One Bronze Age story depicted Central City being near sizable salt flats, of all things. The DCU's 2011 relaunch recalls that imagery; Central City and Keystone City (collectively known as “the Gem Cities”) are shown to have “badlands”, drawn with a Monument Valley look, “just outside Central and Keystone City.”
    • Opal City, home to multiple generations of Starman, is in Maryland, according to its creator, James Robinson. It’s a rather bizarre location, since Opal City seems to have been at least somewhat on the edge of “the Wild West” in the late 19th Century.
    • Coast City, home of Green Lantern Hal Jordan, has somewhat surprisingly always had an unambiguous state in the comic books. It's in California. Its location within California is pretty vague, though. The Atlas puts it in the north, about halfway between San Francisco and Eureka.
    • Smallville, hometown of Clark Kent, was given an unambiguous location in Kansas in the 1978 movie. This location carried over into the comic books. Its location was previously unspecified, however:
      • As noted above, Smallville was sometimes depicted as being relatively close to Metropolis. This could suggest a Midwestern location for Metropolis or an Eastern location for Smallville. In any case, the northeast was much more rural in the 1930s, which would have been the setting of the first Superboy stories.
      • The eponymous TV series suggests that Metropolis is the closest big city to Smallville. In fact, the series admirably resigns itself to implausibility and places both Smallville and Metropolis in central Kansas, regardless of how absurd that is. Smallville is covered in forests, mountains and lakes, while the real Kansas is famously flat and featureless. And Metropolis dwarfs Kansas's largest city, Wichita, by at least an order of magnitude, probably two. note 
      • As with Central City, a number of Superboy stories depict nearby geography (such as mountains) that would be inconsistent with a Midwestern location.
    • Hub City, home of The Question, has an undefined location, but was specifically inspired by East St. Louis, Illinois, (according to creator Denny O'Neil).
    • Happy Harbor, Rhode Island was home to the original Justice League of America's “Secret Sanctuary”. Later stories established this as a fact, but as one blogger notes, this isn't really supported by the original stories. The Secret Sanctuary is also in a mountain cave, a feature Rhode Island is not known for.
    • Star City (aka Starling City) has been based on Chicago at times, and more recently on San Francisco.
  • Basin City, a.k.a. Sin City. It is in the West somewhere, considering it's located near a desert and was started as a boomtown. There are also Western-style bars and strip clubs (Nancy often dresses as a cowgirl), and the term “cowboy” is thrown around sometimes. Country Music is also popular there, apparently. The city seems based mostly on Las Vegas with elements of New York, Chicago, and LA thrown in for good measure.
  • Tintin, though a Belgian creation originally intended to be a reporter for a Brussels newspaper, essentially became of undetermined nationality and hometown once the comic went international. Though the drawings incorporate features of Brussels, he is never stated to be from anywhere more specific than Europe in the comics, nor does he ever acknowledge being in Brussels when he is in the city. The English translation at one point puts Captain Haddock's estate of Marlinspike in England (based on the address on a letter), but this is never acknowledged elsewhere in the series and the French original does not specify Belgium. But there are some clues that wherever Tintin’s from in Western Europe, it must be a Francophone city:
    • The international versions don’t change many of the street names or names of people in Tintin’s hometown, which are clearly French. That said, English translations (including The Movie) do use British currency.
    • In The Black Island, Tintin narrowly catches the ferry to England, which is clearly not his home, and the journey takes less than a day, implying that he started in Belgium or northern France.
    • Tintin’s address is clearly written on the letter that Chang sent him in Tintin in Tibet – except it’s in Chinese, although you can barely make out the double “L” of “Bruxelles” on the envelope.
    • Early editions of Tintin in the Congo show Tintin teaching Congolese schoolchildren that the homeland is Belgium (the then colonial power), but later editions retcon this into a mathematics lesson.
  • Used In-Universe in Miracleman. The City of Spies in Spy Story is just called “the City”. When the main character starts asking what country it’s in, people look at her as if she’s mad. It turns out that the City was built to house all the spies in the world, who couldn’t deal with the utopia the world had become and were instead given a fictional war of intrigue to carry out amongst themselves.
  • W.I.T.C.H. has Heatherfield. It was apparently meant to be somewhere on the U.S. East Coast, but a lack of research left readers outside of Europe with a location that felt more like a town from the comic's country of origin than anywhere in New England, with residents who all behave like Italians with British names and love the sport of soccer rather than Baseball or American Football. Traffic signs follow the Vienna Convention rather than the MUTCD, and the police will contact Interpol to deal with illegal aliens instead of Homeland Security. But at the same time, you do see most signage in English, Halloween is a popular celebration, the school sometimes flies the Stars and Stripes, the currency is the American dollar, and France and Italy are both treated explicitly as foreign countries.
  • The City of Transmetropolitan gives few clues as to its location, save that it is near both a mountain and the ocean, though even these have to be taken with several hefty bags of salt, since it’s also said The City is the size of a small state at least once and has its own block of national electoral votes. And much like in The Tick, it really is just called “The City”. It’s implied that the City was once New York, grown too big for one city to handle over so many years.
  • Diabolik started out set in France, as made obvious by the police officers wearing the kepi, Diabolik being sentenced to death with the guillotine (also used in other places, but to an Italian associated mostly with France) and mentions of Marseille. Then, as the authors had troubles documenting themselves in the pre-Internet days (the series is quite the Long Runner), the setting was Retconned in the fictional city of Clerville, capital of the country with the same name (that also include a small town named Marseille), with a number of other fictional or unnamed countries hosting a few stories (the most frequent are Benglait and Rennert, bordering with Clerville, and, in flashbacks, King’s Island, placed somewhere in the Indian Ocean with its exact location being explicitly off the maps) and, more rarely, Italian cities hosting special stories. The only thing that is known for sure is that Clerville is in Europe, as made explicit in 2002 when the country adopted the Euro.
  • The lighthouse HQ of Excalibur. Twice said to be on the Celtic Sea (the patch of ocean between England and Ireland), on at least one occasion shown to be not far from Liverpool, and repeatedly described as being on the west coast of England. All these things can more or less fit together ... until the 2019 series says that it's in Cornwall and on the Channel.

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