comics aren't just for kids

After reading this interesting article today I began to think of how comics have affected our culture in recent years. In movies alone there has been a surge towards turning both comic books and graphic novels into movies.

Comics turned into movies:
Ironman
The Incredible Hulk
The Fantastic Four
Spiderman
Superman
X-Men
the old Batman movies
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Crow
Men in Black
Blade
League of Extrodinary Gentlemen

Graphic Novels turned Movies:
A History of Violence
Batman Returns
V for Vendetta
300
Road to Perdition
Sin City
Ghost World
From Hell

I beg pardon if I put anything in the wrong category.

What could the reason be that comic books/graphic novels are so popular these days?

Could it be that in this unsteady economy/falling housing market country we live in these days, we need a fantasy way out? Or do we really envy the heroes in their abilities to overthrow corruption since we can't seem to do it in our own lives? Or, do we really envy the antagonist, the villains because they get what they want...at least for a time...?

Are there bad side effects? Could it be as some researchers (Kirsch, S. "Violent Comic Books Influence Relational Aggression, Aug. 2000) suggest; that violent comics may attribute to a more negative or violent response to certain situations?

Or is that just as assanine as saying that Harry Potter introduces children to witchcraft?

Thoughts? I just thought it all made for some interesting ramblings this afternoon. I am not much of a fan of either comics or graphic novels, though I suppose I can see the value in them. I used to read Archie comics when I was 10. I read Art Speigelman's Maus and was blown away--that graphic novel is what made me realize how important they can be. I can't imagine that story told any other way. Anyway, rambling...thoughts anyone?

Comments

Kt said…
You forgot about Persepolis! Didn't it win this year's Oscar? I read it; like Maus, I think it could have been only told that way.

To a visual person (such as myself) a graphic novel is only another medium in which to tell a story. There are some things which can only be conveyed by words, such as descriptions, inner development, narration. But other things can only be captured visually. I know that the great writers don't have to write how every muscle of a face moves for you to picture what the character looks like, but we lesser writers struggle. ("And then he smiled, the right side of his mouth twitching upward, his eyebrows at a 45 degree angle, his neck slightly tilted." Bleck.) I wonder how seamlessly good writing and good illustration can blend, and where the tipping point is between novel and comic.

Graphic novels must appeal so much to filmmakers because they are essentially storyboards ready to go, and because it's much easier to beef up a story just a little than trim it down a lot from a great hulking book. Maybe their recent popularity is caused by lazy filmmakers?

But a good story is a good story, and I would like to think, speaking for the entire artistic community, that the reason graphic novels are growing in number is because perhaps our culture is getting past the notion that comics and animation and such are "just for kids."
"Spider-man." Popular, well-received, made buttloads.

most of these comic/graphic novel movies aren't very good. Both Punisher movies are terrible. Daredevil isn't completely awful, but it's not good. Ghost Rider is supposed to be horrible.

Of the ones you mention, the only ones I would watch a second time are the Spider-man, X-Men 1 & 2, A History of Violence, 300, Sin City, Blade 1 & 2, and maybe The Crow. What's that, half?

Comics have always been difficult to translate because the fanboys want accuracy, but regular movie-goers want an exciting story. That's what makes the graphic novel so appealing, 128-200 pages of a complete story arc.

I think the popularity of the graphic novel as movie can end as suddenly as it began because Hollywood can't tolerate failure. If Iron Man and The Hulk tank at the box office, other studios could back off. But then Batman will make money, so they'll come back. Graphic novels are like any genre, like science fiction, horror, fantasy or westerns. Eventually, people get tired of superheroes. Luckily, there are so many talented writers that graphic novels span all types of literature. Really, unless someone told you, would you have known that A History of Violence was based on a comic book? or 300? or Ghost World?

Don't think of them as comics turned into movies. I'm going to try to remember that when they finally finish Watchmen.

I don't think it's a social issue; it's just money. Graphic novels and comics are either known brands that are easy to market or unknown quantities that are cheap to buy and produce--- it just took a while for the studios to figure out how to make money from them.
(added note)
I still haven't finished watching Oldboy; I put it down half-way through and haven't put it back in to finish it. If you have Netflix, try a Lone Wolf and Cub movie (usually called Baby Cart and something something).
Anonymous said…
Another take: if you're making a movie out of a graphic novel, you've already gotten the script and storyboarding out of the way. Also, the publisher of the material helps with the marketing.
Kerry said…
Exactly--I'd say that the rise in popularity of comic books/graphic novels is tied to the dominance of film and television as the dominant storytelling medium. Telling a story for a mass audience is a pictorial exercise these days, and comics and g.n. follow that trend but don't lead it.

Monster, if you want recommendations, check out Bill Willingham's Fables series, Mike Carey's graphic novel for Minx called The Re-gifters, Brian K. Vaughn's Y:The Last Man and The Runaways. You might like them. Email me if you want more input.
Mummy Dearest said…
I don't know anything about comics.

But I do know that you used the word "affect" correctly in the first paragraph!

Way to be one of 5 people in this country that know the difference between effect and affect.

woot!
Mummy Dearest said…
English Geek Lesson: affect is a verb. effect is a noun.

proceed accordingly.
Thanks Mummy,
I actually have to look up the diff. between effect and affect...English major or no, I still get them confused. :)
Thanks for noticing my hard work.
TSOldtimer said…
There are only five of us?!
Yes TSO, only 5! Mwah ha ha ha!

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