Thursday, April 13, 2006

Why I Think Comic Books Get No Love

Norm, a good friend of this blog, posted in comments that "Millions of people will watch Spiderman do his spider thing on the big screen, but a comic book with the exact same subject matter is so far beneath contempt that it's not even worth a second thought."

He was talking about snobbery of one form of media over another, and he's right. It isn't fair, and even though they're not my thing, I don't like it when people make fun of people who like comic books. I don't think it's weird to like comic books. I, frankly, think it's weirder to like ballet. Who the fuck likes ballet in 2006? Gimme a break. But still, to each his own.

Anyway, I may be able to provide comic book/graphic novel aficionados with a glimpse of why their world seems so closed off, and why the movies attract bigger audiences.

I know nothing about comics. I read Batman and Archie comics when I was a kid, and then I switched over to National Lampoon and never looked back.

When I saw the X-Men movie -- which was the first I'd heard of X-Men -- I thought, wow, I'm really missing something. I'll go get the comic books and read the saga.

So when I went to find the comic books or a collection thereof I found out there was Original X-Men and Genuine X-Men and X-Men: Beginnings and X-Men Beginnings Collection and X-Men Official Beginnings Collection and X-Men Authorized Official Beginnings Collection and all of them had fans arguing about whether or not you would be an asshole for reading that version.

So I gave up on the whole thing and just waited for the next movie.

Then I got in on a graphic novel series about a plague that wipes out almost all the men on Earth. It was great. I read the first two or three... and then while waiting for the next one to come out I got busy and kinda forgot what had happened, and it had been so long I forgot I was even waiting for it, and now I think there might have been a lot more of them, and I've fallen out of it.

So I'll wait for the movie.

See what I'm saying?


norm said...

I see.
The sad truth is, I haven't read many comic books since '98...and up 'till then, they were my job.
I've had endless discussions with my friends and fellow cartoonists about why American comics suck and there are a lot of reasons.
But, I don't think the medium sucks.
At least not in theory.
Europe and Japan seem to have figured out how to do them right, so there may be hope.
One guy I know has done a documentary on web comics as the possible savior of the medium.
Maybe he's on to something.
And even if he's not, I'll cut him some slack because he finally got me an entry in IMDB.

RingoInfinite said...

Love your blog...first time, long time.

"Y the Last Man" is awesome. You should continue to give it a chance.

I used to collect comics...avidly...but now I strictly buy the collected editions.

You want to read the authors from the United Kingdom, such as Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman, Mark Millar, Peter Milligan, Jaime Delano; they are brilliant and twisted. The two American writers I read with consistency are Brian K. Vaughn (who writes "Y the Last Man"), Robert Kirkman, and Brian Azarello.

You might want to take a look at the following series:

Planetary - Ellis
100 Bullets - Azarello
Fables - Willingham
Lucifer - Carey
The Sandman - Gaimen
Y the Last Man - Vaughn
Preacher - Ennis
Shade the Changing Man - Milligan
Swamp Thing - Moore
The Authority - Ellis/Millar only
The Watchmen - Moore
V for Vendetta - Moore
We3 - Morrison
New X-Men - Morrison
All-Star Superman - Morrison
Seven Soldiers - Morrison
The Walking Dead - Kirkman

Phew! Let me know if you want any more information.

Michael Markowitz said...

Hey, Ringo, thanks, that's really helpful. Maybe I'll get back into Y because I was enjoying it. And your list sounds like a great jumping-off point. And thanks for being a non-snob. Too many comic book guys are like Springfield's Comic Book Guy when you ask for advice, know what I mean?

Norm, do you want to point people to your work? Or at least to said IMDB entry?

norm said...

If you want a little more "no love for comics" plus a dash of irony.
I just over-heard a meeting where an guy did a Lichtenstein-style painting for a game background. Not a copy, just an original thing in that style.
I won't say what game it was for, but they decided to take it out for potential copyright reasons.
That drove me nuts. Lichtenstein built his entire career on copying comic book panels.
If you don't believe me look at this web site.

I was stunned. I thought he ripped off a thing here or there, but I had no idea it was all he did.
What a cushy racket he stumbled upon.
He never even varied the joke or added any substatial extra content or juxtaposition to the images.
I love Duchamp, so I have no problem with "found art" or even a little pop-art now and then, but this is so out of line I can't take it.

norm said...

And as for my comic stuff.
I can't say it was all that great.
I learned a lot doing it, but most of it was run of the mill stuff.
And, unfortunately, the best written story I drew ( written by Dan Vado) was my first job and my artwork sucked.
It sucked in ways that made strong men weep, women faint, and small dogs explode.
Maybe I'll mention something if I do a new thing.
(Of course,a person could always click on my name at the top of this post, if they really want to see some of the not so sucky stuff I've done)

Michael Markowitz said...

You're right, what Lichtenstein did was wayyyyy beyond the limits of pop art, IMHO.

Of course, what do I know? God knows how many times I've walked past or sat beneath one of the largest Lichtensteins in the world... the one so big IM Pei built the CAA building around it and now they can't get it out... and I don't think I've ever once looked at it.

My favorite painting is the wedding portrait in which Jan Van Eyck painted himself in a mirror with the words "Jan Van Eyeck was here" Tee hee... shows how sophisticated I am.

As for your art, Norm, it is as always far from "not sucky"... it is "is fantastic"

I encourage everyone to go to

RingoInfinite said...

Re: comic-book snobs

I can't stand these guys. Everything said about comic is taken as an offense, whether a compliment or not. I just ignore them..."to each his own", ya know?

Anyway, I do hope you take the time to jump back in to comic's loop. As for "Y", it's a finite series, which I believe is supposed to end somewhere in the 60's range. You may want to jump on it then, so you can read it straight through. AND, the comic has been optioned...