Not Self-Respecting?

Regarding article: No self-respecting adult should buy comics or watch superhero movies which appeared in the Telegraph.

I read this article today (29th March) with both amusement and horror.  Some very valid points have been made, unfortunately the writer has thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

One of the issues I have with this article is that it lumps all comics in with films of comics.  Have to say the film industry has done an appalling job of representing the breadth of the comic book world.  Grow up and separate the two!  Comic books are as diverse as films are, but the film industry seems to insist only ploughing money into the big name comics, mostly Marvel, but then DC do better serialised on TV.  Yes, I get the business case for their concentration on the ‘Big hitters’, ready-made and loyal (sometimes worryingly so) audience and all that, but that doesn’t make it right or watchable, it certainly doesn’t make it representative of the comic book world.

When it comes to Batman/Superman/Iron Man/The Avengers, I completely agree with the article, the bottom has been scraped out of those barrels and unfortunately the script writers just keep on digging.  The latest offerings have been, well in many case dire would be a compliment.  (Exclude Deadpool from your thinking here that was a good movie.)  The problem is that there are many, many, many other barrels worth dipping into.  I understand that there might actually be a Wonder Woman film next year, yey!  Someone in Hollywood actually noticed that superpowers don’t depend on having gonads.

But the headline is, as headlines often are, the inflammatory banner on this story.  “No self-respecting adult should buy comics or watch superhero movies.”  Lots of self-respecting people love comics and go to films of comic books.  And we’re not all sad little geeks who live with their mothers.  Lots of us are intelligent free thinking individuals who want to enjoy a little escapism and a ripping yarn.  Perhaps by ‘self-respecting’ the writer of the headline (not necessarily the writer of the article) meant pseudo-intellectuals that hang around in wine bars and read Kafka while congratulating themselves on how wonderful and superior they are.

The article also suggests that comic books are for pre-teens.  Sweeping generalisation, anybody?

I’m not entirely sure that that statement was ever true, but it certainly isn’t true of many of the comic books I read.  Now I must state that I read very few Marvel or DC comics, I like less mainstream works, independent comics especially.  And I can assure the reading public that these are not designed for kids, even the ones that look like they might be.  Norman, for example, may be an 8-year-old-boy, (and title of a comic) but he’s also a mass murderer, not the sort of thing I’d give little kids.  Even Harley Quinn might be considered teenage, but it’s dealing with a woman who is rather messed up by an extremely abusive relationship, which I believe is on-going, with the Joker.

Comics are actually a very good source of new horror writing, see The Evil Dead, The Walking Dead, American Monster, Wytches, Outcast, Hellblazer, Abe Sapien, Neonomicon, Providence, as you might have guessed I could go on.  Not only new horror, but older horrors are joining the shelves of comics and graphic novels.  When the likes of Stephen King have their novels given the ‘comic’ treatment, perhaps it’s time to rein back on the sniffiness.

Of course, there are some very childish comics out there too.  There are the ones for the pre-pubescent and teens, there distinctly adult one, there are ones that dig into realms I don’t want to even admit exist.  On the other hand, that’s kind of the point.  There are as many avenues of comics as there are departments in Waterstones (or any other book retailer), possibly more.  I suggest the writer of your article takes another look in the comic book shop, this time with the blinkers removed and prejudices off.

Feel I should also comment on the fact that this is in the “Men – Thinking-Man” section.  I have no idea who Rhymer Rigby is, but I have to ask, Rhymer, are you writing for men or teenage boys?  Because there is a difference and while the article may be in a section for ‘men’ it takes the tone of a too-big-for-his-boots teenage boy.

There are tons of comics (including some of those listed above) that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot barge pole, but to simply write off a whole industry that depends on both good writing and good artistry displays a blinkered, thoughtless approach to the world that needs to grow up and broaden out.

 

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