Sunday, October 16, 2005

Why I stopped reading comic books....

This post is very geeky and not really that Art-related. My friend from America is staying with me and he's this total comic book dork and has dragged me into talking about comic books more than I ever thought I could. That said, here's a goofy rant/confession that came out my friend asking me why I don't read comic books:
I've mentioned comic books before on the blog, but I've never really shared why the hell I avoid them like the plague these days. That's not to say there's not anything good out there....just that I got sick of some of the crap involved in the whole comic book "industry."
The whole "Death of Superman" thing was a pretty popular reason to get out of comic books. I've said it before but I'll say it again: When they start interviewing people on CNN concerning the death of Superman, you'd better kill him. CNN. DC comics people appeared on CNN to talk about the death of a cultural icon. So, two months later when Superman was alive and well, you have to wonder what would bring DC comics to lie to a bunch of legitimate journalists? (I'm not saying "comic book reviewers" or whatever aren't journalists, but, well, it's not the same. CNN > Wizard magazine. But I digress.
The reason I got out of comic books is simply this: They kept killing off my characters simply to spice up their story. Now, I'll admit, no character should live forever. All stories have endings and I'm not naive enough to say that any character, no matter what his popularity, should survive everything that happens to him. But a character's end, no matter what it is, should have SOMETHING to do with the character, or SOMETHING to do with a grander plot, or, um something. When these stories still fail dramatically or when the only "strength" revolves around the "OMG A CHARACTER DIED!" factor, something starts to suck. Before I give you my two examples, I will confess that I have a weakness for the more light-hearted characters. Characters that bring comedy to the table, or at least spice up the usual imposed seriousness with a slightly askew perspective. In other words, I'm doomed to love the characters that are infinitely expendable...because if anyone watches horror movies you all know that the funny guy is the first to die. So when the writers of a comic book want to spice things up or change the title's direction, Mr. Light-hearted is usually the first to bite it. It doesn't matter that almost no one dies forever in a comic book universe...death usually means someone is out of circulation for 6-10 years...that's all. Still, when the dead guy was what kept you interested, that's a hella-long wait. I'll admit I'm obviously not the target audience, but, um, yeah. This is why I stopped spending my allowance on comic books:
Multiple Man gets Super-AIDS!
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I can't believe they killed my boy by giving him AIDS.
Around issue 70 or so of X-factor, the title turned into a satire of both the X-men and modern politics. The artist (who I sinfully can't remember his name at present) had a style that was almost cubist and very experimental...and the series was really, really funny. Hell, you knew it was satirical because one of the team members was named "Strong Guy"...because he was, after all, the Strong Guy of the team. I like reading books that at least give a nod to the clichés in comic books. Long story short, Jamie Maddox, a.ka. The Multiple Man, was the comedic relief of the team. A ways down the line, he gets infected with bubonic super-mutant-HIV and dies. What the hell. The whole super-AIDS virus plot wasn't that touching or they infect the funny guy so he can die in agony. Well, screw me for liking the light-hearted side of comic books. Oh and nothing sucks more than having your favorite character killed off when a comic company wants to stay "current" and address a hot topic, in this case the AIDS epidemic.
Warlock takes the Pipe!
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There are few comic book characters that I fell in love with at first glance. Warlock, of the New Mutants, was one of them. He was this shape-changing robot that'd look completely different from panel to panel and pretty much had this fluid character design that brought me a lot of joy. Admittedly it was ridiculous, with him turning into flying spaceships and giant catapults to get around, but, well, I already admit that I like the light-hearted cheesecake of comic books. Funnily enough, I think I drew Warlock over and over again as a kid...I blame him for why none of my characters have elbows. After drawing liquid robots for the better part of my childhood, elbows just seemed unnecessary. Oh and they killed him in a goofy plot I don't want to talk about. However the REAL reason they killed him was because he was goofy and funny and in 5 more issues The New Mutants would turn into the ultra-flashy and "hardcore" X-force. No room for comedy when a geriatric mutant/cyborg from the future is around. Of course they brought back Warlock...only it wasn't him and well, now he's not the character I onced loved.
I wish I could take comic plots more seriously. Then I'd stop falling in love with the characters that sort of mock them, like Multiple Man and Warlock. This whole post is just me geeky complaining about my characters dying....but it's more than that. Death in comic books is NOT the end....we ALL know that in 40 years there will still be Spiderman, Superman, or whoever. They may be posted on an internet site instead of printed on dead trees, but they'll still be there. I think that's the problem with heroes. They shouldn't live forever. I'm not saying our iconic heroes should all bite it, I'm just saying that death makes any narrative universe more accountable. Of course when you only kill off the second-string characters that not many people like, it really, really doesn't count. I'll shut up now.
Oh, and if any of you out there know the character "Slapstick," then you know the name of my secret love and shame. I'll shut up now, as my geek gland is about to exhaust itself.

PS: A friend of mine came over to my apartment with a stack of copies. After seeing "Jerome is Special," he’s challenged me to do something similar with a bunch of these:
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While I don’t think I’ll end up painting 50 of them, I think a mini-sequel entitled “Abe Lincoln is Special” may be in order in the coming days.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah man your right they killed superman so many times i feel like writing a big fuck u to them shit he even died in superman returns ok so hes weak to krytonite now he can get hurt by anything hell even hes feelings can get hurt isnt he a god now he a demegod meaning half immortal and another thing they made him weak so that bad guys have a fighting chance but they can make villans retardly strong almost omnipotent and they still get killed so make superman super agian where only kryptonite or a powerful god can have a match agianst him shit dc must stand for dum cunts

9:05 AM  

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