Comic books are for babies. Graphic novels are for overweight men with neckbeards who never get laid. Web comics are for 15-year-old pimply kids who argue about video games. What kind of losers actually read this stuff? Honestly.
“Iron Man” was totally one of the best movies of 2008, though. Tony Stark is so cool. And “Arkham Asylum” was awesome too; it was just like “The Dark Knight.”
Hey, can I borrow your Guy Fawkes mask so I can draw a bunch of chalk V’s all over campus, despite not knowing who Alan Moore is?
I am sure, gentle reader, you see where I am going with this.
The motion picture, as a medium, has been around for roughly 120 years, depending on whom you ask. The comic book, in its earliest form as a collection of comic strips, came to be 75 years ago. Given the 45-year discrepancy, this implies comics should be on the same level in terms of artistry and public acceptance film had in 1964.
But that’s not the case, really. Certainly, characters related to comics are gaining acceptance and profitability. “The Dark Knight” is one of the highest grossing films of all time and was outright snubbed for an Oscar nomination. People like superheroes. They just don’t like comics.
And I understand. I also think there’s a lot of pervasive misconceptions about comics. Some believe they are impossible to start reading due to the years and years of history behind each character. That’s simply not true. Did you know Superman is the last son of Krypton and is hated by Lex Luthor? Because that’s all the knowledge you need to pick up his title, “Action Comics.” If you get stuck, I promise Wikipedia can help.
Still others think comics are all about superheroes, and superheroes are “lame.” The big two publishers, Marvel and DC, are indeed mostly superheroes. But independent publishers find a wealth of stories to tell; even the stuffiest of English professors regard Charles Burns’ “Black Hole” as an important coming-of-age tale, while the classic “Bone” is all kinds of beautifully strange.
Another pervasive misconception is comics are purely violent material for kids. In truth, they’re usually drawn by distinguished artists and written by people regarded as some of the best authors of our time.
Comics had a “Citizen Kane” moment back in the 80s (two, actually, if you count “The Dark Knight Returns”) when “Watchmen” hit the scene. These books ushered in an era where images accompanied by text could tell serious, meaningful stories.
Warren Ellis, one of my favorite writers, recently made his own independent story called “Ignition City.” It’s a tale of a woman whose only superpower is a pistol, hunting for the man who killed her father in a post-Space Age steampunk hellhole. On the flip side, he’s also writing “Astonishing X-Men,” taking over the duty from “Dollhouse” creator Joss Whedon.
The final misconception preventing the general public from picking up a comic book is price. Most weekly comic books cost about three or four dollars. It’s less than a magazine, and there’s a good chance you can sell it years later on eBay for some decent scratch, assuming you keep it in pristine condition.
After 75 years, comics are on the cusp of public acceptance, thanks to our good friends in the movie and video game industries. Publishers are trying new and interesting methods to achieve mainstream appeal like Marvel’s “Noir” imprint, placing superheroes like Spider-Man and Daredevil in Depression-era settings.
Go out to the Universe of Superheroes (next to Donkey) on Wednesday when the new comics come in. Pick one off the wall that looks cool to you, or features a superhero you like, and plunk down $2.99. Tell ’em Greg Mercer sent you. They probably don’t know who I am, but tell ’em anyway.
The column was originally published Nov. 8 by Ohio University’s The Post. Content was made available by The Post.