Once upon a time during the Jurassic period, I was an aspiring cartoonist. When you’re interested in any industry, it’s always important to know the history behind it and get a sense of where it’s headed; and when I went to art school in the 1980s and 1990s, the comic industry in the United States was going through a major transitional period, one that goes a long way in explaining why today’s comics have gone all dark and gritty for all the wrong reasons:
American Comics, Bande Dessinée and the Graphic Novel
For the longest time, Americans saw comic books as a strictly kids and teen format. Then something happened to challenge this view: in the 1960s, American cartoonists became exposed to European comics, and what they saw filled them with a mixture of awe and envy. The reason why is that they were learning for the first time that contrary to the United States, comics around the world were not only a highly respected medium, there was an entire line of comics separate from children’s comics that were drawn and meant for the enjoyment of adults.
These comics–such as Barbarella and Diabolik–became known as “bande dessinée” in the United States. This wasn’t really the correct term (bande dessinée refers strictly to Franco-Belgian comics); however, for whatever reason, American cartoonists used that as a catch-all term for adult Eurocomics in the same way we refer to all Japanese comics as manga. Keep in mind that by “adult”, I don’t mean mature content, as in graphic sex and violence. I mean comics specifically aimed at adults, tended to be drawn more realistically and dealt with sophisticated genres, such as sci-fi, adventure, mystery, historical fiction and erotica.
After American cartoonists became exposed to Eurocomics, there was a huge push in the United States to kick start a genre of comics that was similar to bande dessinée. To understand why, try if you can to imagine what it was like to be an American cartoonist in the 1960s. Say that one day, you stumbled across a copy of The Adventures of Tin Tin by Hergé and went, “Hey! That’s really cool! I wanna do something like that! I want to do a comic about my own detective character.”
Could you have done it? Well, you could have drawn the comic, certainly, but you wouldn’t have had an audience and no one would’ve taken it seriously. In fact, they would’ve thought you were a little weird. The reason why is that, once again, comics in America were seen as mostly for kids and teens. Not only that, comics only existed as serialized comic book format and in very rigid, limited genres–primarily, superhero (DC, Marvel); general kids/teens type stuff (“Caspar the Friendly Ghost”, “Archie Comics”); syndicated newspaper comics anthology (“The Best of Peanuts”); humor (Mad Magazine, Cracked Magazine); or promotional tie-in (as in, a James Bond or Star Trek TV comic). There was no such thing as being able to do a standalone comic. The most you would’ve been able to do was draw this comic out as a personal pet project or release it as part the American underground comics scene.
To make matters worse, even if there had been the option to publish a standalone comic, your work wouldn’t have been respected anyway, because cartooning as an art form was seen as low brow and kiddie. According to American snobs, real art was the stuff that you hung up on walls, sold for over a million dollars in art galleries or made it into art history books. Cartooning, on the other hand, was crap.
Being what the state of comics was in the 1960s, you can imagine how excited American cartoonists were to discover European comics. No small wonder, then, that in the 1970s, there was suddenly a push by both cartoonists and lovers of Euro Comics in general to get an American version of adult standalone comics up and running here. One of the earliest efforts to popularize adult comics in the United States was Heavy Metal Magazine. Launched in 1977, this full-color publication featured well-respected European comic artists like Moebius and underground American cartoonists like Vaughn Bodé. Through it, Americans were introduced to a whole new world outside of cheap serialized DC, Marvel and Archie comics.
The reason why something like Heavy Metal was so important was that before cartoonists could even create an American version of Eurocomics, they had to force Americans to get past their prejudices about the comic format in the first place. Without a venue showing Americans that comics didn’t have to be limited to serialized kiddie and teen comic books, their efforts to create serious, standalone comics for adults would’ve been laughed at as silly or pretentious.
Given how deeply entrenched this notion of comics being a kiddie format was during the 1970s, you wouldn’t think that simply launching a magazine like this would work. But surprisingly, it did. Thanks to Heavy Metal Magazine and other attempts to expose Americans to both Euro Comics and the underground comics scene, people became more receptive to the idea of adult comics, enough to where cartoonists finally felt confident enough to start drawing serious standalone comic stories and have them accepted by the public.
However, things weren’t all smooth sailing. In spite of their success in creating a new type of comic, cartoonists became nervous about their work still getting lumped into the same category as comic books, because that’s what the public insisted on calling anything that was done in a comics format. For example, see this David Letterman interview below, where underground cartoonist Harvey Pekar kept getting his comic, “American Splendor“, called a “comic book.”
Realizing this could be a problem, American cartoonists attempted to create new names for what they were doing to draw a clear, distinct line between their work and serialized comic books. Standalone comics for adults were called “graphic novels,” and the cartooning in them was alternatively called “visual storytelling” and “sequential art,” a term made famous by Will Eisner, an established cartoonist most famous for having drawn The Spirit comics:
Finally, after years of trying to get Americans used to the idea of adult comics, the effort finally paid off. By the 1980s, there was now a new genre of adult comics in America called graphic novels that were published in book format, could be about anything that the comic artist wanted, drawn in any style he or she wanted and thankfully, not limited to the realm of Archie, DC or Marvel comics. Many graphic novels reached critical acclaim during this time, the most famous one of them all being Maus by Art Spiegelman.
When Maus became huge, the graphic novel–and the American adult comic–finally came into its own, and it seemed for a while that we finally had our own legitimate version of Euro Comics and bande dessinée.
Then the strangest thing occurred. The comic book industry–and we’re talking about Marvel, DC and anyone else who published cheap pulp superhero or other types of comic books lines– decided that it wanted in on this new graphic novel/adult comics craze. All of a sudden, comic book publishers were putting out splashy standalone comics featuring everyone’s caped crusaders in book format and calling them “graphic novels”. Some of these so-called superhero “graphic novels” even went so far as to stray away from the classic pen-and-ink aesthetic of the comic book art bible, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee.
Why did the comic book industry do this? Why, I can never say for sure. But I have several theories. One theory is that the industry realized a golden opportunity to retain readers. You see, back in the day, kids stopped reading comic books once they hit the age of, say, 16 or 17. A day over 18 and you were pretty much seen as an immature clown with a Peter Pan complex, a loser or a nerd. You were, in other words, this guy–
That’s not to say that people couldn’t continue loving comic books or the superhero genre. It was okay if you wanted to carry over your love of comics into adulthood by becoming a comic book collector, dressing up as your favorite comic book characters for Halloween, aspiring to be a comic book artist yourself or watching movies and TV shows based on superheroes (see: The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman). It’s just that you couldn’t be an active reader or follower of comic books. You had to graduate into more adult fare, usually sci-fi and fantasy novels.
In light of all this, what I suspect is that by latching onto the graphic novel craze, the comic book industry hoped to retain readers who ordinarily would’ve dropped their comics past the age of 18. I also suspect that by going this route, it was hoping that it would attract an adult readership who ordinarily wouldn’t have picked up a superhero comic if their lives could depend on it.
Another theory I have about why the comic book industry jumped on the graphic novel bandwagon is professional envy. Before the 1980s, the comic book world was dominated by guys like Stan Lee and Joe Kubrick. Then all of a sudden, people were oohing and ahhing over people like R. Crumb, Harvey Pekar, Daniel Clowes, Roz Chast, Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo. And now beloved figures of the comic book world were getting diminished in the eyes of a younger demographic with each passing year. To make matters worse, manga and anime were now making their way to America, too, and younger generations were becoming more interested in chasing any copies they could find of both after Akira (1988) made a huge splash here.
One last theory I have for why the comic book industry decided to co-opt the graphic novel is fear. When graphic novels finally came into their own, this made the superhero genre look even cheaper and more infantile than it already was. The reason why is that graphic novels were published in book format and drawn in a wide variety of styles, including water color and acrylics. They weren’t drawn in this chintzy, outdated pen and ink style. On top of that, the stories were better written and more varied. So naturally, people were becoming more and more drawn to graphic novels than they were superhero comics.
In any event, for whatever reason, the comic book industry embarked on a similar mission of the cartoonists of the 1960s and 1970s to make the superhero genre be taken as seriously and become as respectable as graphic novels or bande dessinée.
As much as it wanted to do that, there was a major problem. Again, the reason why adult Euro Comics–and later American graphic novels–were getting more respect than comic books is that they were more sophisticated in the way of stories, visual storytelling and themes. Graphic novels could be autobiographies, romance, slice of life memoir, historical drama, comedy, film noir, sci-fi or antiwar screed. An example of the type of mature storytelling that defined the graphic novel is Pride of Baghdad, a harrowing tale about a pride of lions that escape the Baghdad Zoo during the Iraq War and think they have found freedom, only to find a ruined landscape devoid of humans. (Think The Lion King meets Watership Down):
Stuff like Pride of Baghdad was the kind of hard-hitting, mature stuff that was coming out of the graphic novel format. The superhero comic, on the other hand, is and always has been a kids and teen genre, dumbed down and simplified for an audience whose minds have yet to reach maturity. That’s not to say that there was never room for the superhero comic to be adapted for the enjoyment of adults (as we saw with the 1960s Batman TV show or 1970s Wonder Woman TV series). It’s just that there was only so much you could do to make it as mature and sophisticated as bande dessinée and graphic novels.
Given that, how do you take a genre like this and readapt it so that it’s on par with the more mature stuff coming out of Europe or even homegrown graphic novels like Maus? You simply can’t, anyway than you could, say, make Barney and Friends or My Little Pony more adult. There’s only so much to work with. Simply deciding to put out a well-drawn standalone Batman comic by a brilliant watercolor artist wouldn’t do. If anything, doing something like this would’ve been the height of pretension.
So, to make superhero comics seem as “mature” as graphic novels, the comic book industry had to cheat at it. Bleak tones, dystopian backdrops, and depressing film noirish elements were introduced, and the entire genre became reinvented in the “dark and gritty/grimdark” aesthetic that is so popular now. Sex and violence became more prevalent–there was gore now, and female characters like Harley Quinn went from cute and innocent side characters to tarted up, trashy bimbos.
But most of all, the superhero comic became entrenched in the amorality of Ayn Rand (“Objectivism”) and nihilism. Now Batman, Superman and other iconic comic book superheroes weren’t beacons of morality; they became angsty, disaffected anti-heroes skirting the line between morality and immorality, heroism and sociopathy.
Now, this all raises an interesting question–did this work? Did the superhero genre become as adult and sophisticated as American graphic novels? Well, it depends on what you mean by “more adult.” Let’s say we decided to do an “adult” remake of the classic Scooby Doo episodes from the 1960s. The plots are the same, the formula is the same. However, in this reboot, Fred is a pimp turning out Daphne and Velma; Shaggy is a strung-out meth head and Scooby a killer pit bull. On top of that, every so often, there are shots of Daphne and Velma in stripper clothes doing ass-to-ass while Fred jerks off in the background, Shaggy shoots up and Scoob bites a guy’s head off. And maybe once in a while, the gang quotes something from Atlas Shrugged or talks wistfully about how awesome it would be if they committed mass suicide by loading the Mystery Machine up with TNT before driving into a school bus of cute kids.
Would Scooby Doo be more “adult” in this new version? No. The reboot would be every bit as childish as the original series.
The same goes for the superhero genre. Superhero comics can gore itself up all it wants, sex itself up all it wants and have iconic characters like Harley Quinn look like three-dollar hookers and pander to prurient male teen fantasies. It can have Batman or Superman start killing people indiscriminately or act burdened, jaded or resentful over having to help the human race. It can try to reference heavy-handed historical events like the Holocaust or social issues like homophobia.
It can also try to reinvent itself as being in the same vein as a gritty Mickey Spillane novel or–like a pig rolling around in shit–revel in the rancid ideologies of troll-bitch, Ayn Rand. Superhero comics will always be a kiddie genre that every self-respecting adult should stop reading with any real seriousness as soon as they either turn 18 or receive their first blow job (whichever comes first). If not by then, then at least when they’re five years away from their first mandatory annual prostate exam.
To put it bluntly, superhero comics aren’t a genre that anyone should even consider seriously keeping up with past adolescence, because an adult mind needs to be able to understand and appreciate plots, situations and themes above a ninth-grade level. And yet, thanks to one of the most successful hijacks of an art form ever seen, an entire generation of men–who two decades or more ago would’ve been dropping the latest Superman comic in favor of a Philip K. Dick, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut or Ray Bradbury novel–are now entering middle age consuming crap meant for little boys but imagining that it’s all very “mature” and “thought-provoking.”
Of course, they won’t tell you that. They’ll say that they’re merely reliving their childhoods. But then dare to criticize something like, say, Watchmen, and all of a sudden, they’re hitching their britches like Ralph Furley, sniffing arrogantly while condescendingly explaining to you the multi-layered themes explored in this “masterpiece”. And by “multi-layered themes,” I mean hard-hitting, thought-provoking stuff like vigilantism has its downsides and “the world exists in shades of grey instead of black and white.”
When these comic book connoisseurs aren’t condescendingly displaying the breadth of their intellectual prowess by showing off the stuff they learned from a comic book that we all realized in ninth grade during an afternoon of navel gazing, they’re throwing around words like “deconstruction of the genre” or uttering Alan Moore’s name in the same reverential tone that Dick Cavett would use when name dropping Gore Vidal or Norman Mailer. And Stan Lee? Holy shit! Don’t even get us started! What a national treasure! He had nothing on Mark Twain!
“Okay, this is all well and good,” you’re thinking, “But what has this all got to do with the title of your entry, about comic book movies being rightfully called manbaby films? Get to the point.”
Well, here is the point–seeing what a complete joke the superhero genre’s attempt at trying to be taken seriously has become, I couldn’t be more frustrated and even angry at seeing comic book adaptations–aka CBM movies (emphasis on the BM) —being elevated to the heights that they are now. If they didn’t take themselves seriously, I wouldn’t have an issue. But they do take themselves seriously, about as seriously as Kubrick and Francis Ford Coppola were when they shot their movies.
Because of this self-seriousness, these movies have been fueling this false idea that superhero comics are all grown up now; therefore, it’s okay if middle-aged men with graying pubes and a receding hairline are still keeping up with this crap with all the anticipation of a 12-year pissing his pants over the latest WWE Smackdown event.
All of this is why comic book movies have been justifiably maligned as “man baby films.” There’s nothing wrong with comic book movies if they’re shot in the spirit with which they were intended–i.e., as kiddie/family fare or as light escapist entertainment that plays to the kid in all of us that used to be into comic books. There’s also nothing wrong if comic book movies are being appreciated by adults on a purely cinematic level because they’re well shot, acted and directed.
There’s everything wrong with comic book movies if they try to convince grown adults to remain current with the superhero genre based on this idea it’s evolved and become more mature. It hasn’t and that will always be true, no matter how pretentiously superhero films are shot, how dourly they’re directed, how much sleazy sex appeal and gratuitous violence is thrown in or how many Shakespearean actors and veterans of the stage are conned into slumming it as a popular comic book character.
I’m not a religious person, but in thinking about how to summarize this, I’m reminded of a great passage from The Bible that goes, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” No truer words could be spoken when it comes to CBM movies, and it’s time for Hollywood to stop gaslighting an aging, graying population of males into thinking it’s still okay to be as heavily invested into this bullshit as they were when they were 10, just because movie adaptations are grimdark, incorporate the chicken scratch of Ayn Rand or are based on comics that were published with the subheading of “graphic novel” pretentiously (and erroneously) stamped underneath the title.
It’s time, in other words, for Hollywood to stop teaching today’s generation of adult males that it’s cool to be this guy:
It wasn’t cool to be him in the 1990s and it sure as hell isn’t cool now.
After seeing Comic Book Guy three times here, the resemblance to Matt Groening becomes even clearer.
Speaking of which, following those groundbreaking comic books/graphic novels there was a renaissance era of comic strip writing with Matt’s life in hell, Calvin and Hobbes, the Far Side, Bloom County and the Boondocks (and the excellent spinoff cartoon on adult swim).
Comic bowel movement films have been quite the scourge on pop culture the last decade and a half, none worse than the Marvel series which have turned minor forgettable characters into features.
OMG, I was a huge, huge fan of Bloom County! I still have a weathered, dog-eared copy of a Bloom County anthology from the Princess Di era. Also, I’d include Dilbert as part of that renaissance, even though Scott Addams is a complete looney tune.
I used to read Life in Hell, too, but more as a Simpsons loyalist than anything.
It’s funny that you mentioned Marvel, because I hate the X-Men movies for this very reason that you mentioned. The thing about the X-Men comic is that it featured a colorful cast of characters who represented everyone from every walk of life, be it Southerners and WASPS to Eastern Europeans and ethnic minorities. And somehow, the frat boy idiot who directed these films decided to take the most boring, cliche alpha male (Wolverine) and make him the entire star of the franchise. It boils my blood thinking about it.
I was always pissed about the X men movies.It was one of the last comic books I read ( I stopped buying and reading comic around 16-17, because of those very reasons you listed). But I’m not suprised at the results because there were too many characters to cover in one movie, and they still couldn’t make it work after 6 more movies. All that talent wasted too (two shakespearean actors).
At least the X men cartoon (that came out in the 90s) were pretty good and stayed true to the comic. But like you said, Hollywood decided to give these comic book franchises to a bunch of hacks.
If there is truly one seminal source to blame for the rise of Man Baby Movies, it’s the Big Bang Theory. While it did have great moments, There were tons of episodes that acted as running promotions for these comic book BM’s as well as the return of the uninteresting Star Wars franchise
Even though you made a brief mention of it, I would like to see your deconstruction of The Watchmen movie because I’m thinking of seeing it even though I think the original comic book is the most outstanding comic book ever written and illustrated.
I absolutely loved the X-Men animated series that came out in the 1990s. That was on FOX Kids, along with The Tick and Spider-Man, which I watched religiously.
I don’t think the reasons regarding the X-Men movies had to do with covering too much ground. I think that the recent batch of comic book directors were never real comic book fans and are just propagandists exploiting the genre to indoctrinate young people with their various toxic ideologies. For example, it’s no secret that Christopher Nolan is a huge fan of Ayn Rand, and that part of the reason why so many CBM movies are erasing a lot of the hard morality that defined comic books is that these directors are advocates of things like Objectivism, nihilism, libertarianism, moral relativity and to a certain extent fascism.
I’ve never seen Big Bang Theory (my older sister loves that show), but I don’t doubt what you say.
Regarding Watchmen, I had seen it shortly after it came out, and I just can’t stomach the thought of watching it again. This movie is one of the reasons why I wrote this entry in the first place. That comic and movie represents the turning point when the graphic novel format was finally hijacked from underground artists and graphic novelists like Art Spiegelman and Harvey Pekar, so it’s a sore point for me.
And I was annoyed and offended by the politics. I don’t like “alternative universe” versions of history–particularly if it involves public figures–because I feel it’s disrespectful, cheap and vulgar. (Forrest Gump, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, etc.) I know that Richard Nixon was a megalomaniac but by the same token, there was some good in his presidency (ending Vietnam, signing the EPA, etc.) and the fact that he voluntarily stepped down shows that for all his self-importance, he had a shred of decency. So, this alternative version of him comes across as a character assassination, even though it’s fantasy-based.
I should also add and would like to see you also deconstruct the immensely overrated movie Deadpool. I was told it was worth seeing because it was supposed to some kind of dadaist parody of CMB’s but it was just as contrived as all the others and I got bored of it after an hour. It wasn’t funny at all either.
I’m really not keen on seeing Deadpool. I mean, if it turns up on Crackle or something, I might watch it. But I just can’t stomach the idea. All I heard about this movie was how cool it was because it had vulgar sexual references and profanity, and I was like, “Sigh…another juvenile CBM trying hard to be pass itself off as mature by throwing in tons of sex and four letter words.”
I can see that now with Nolan’s takes on the Batman, as well as his other non CBM movies, I think Singer was making super bowl commercials when he got assigned for directing those X-bombs and it shows.
A lot of these comic book movies have CIA influence all over them. From the philosophy of being a paternal world police figure to the fight scenes.
If there was one director that captured the fun and suspense right was Sam Raimi with Spiderman. I didn’t think Tobey McGuire was a good lead but at least the films were worth seeing again (except the 3rd one).
Yeah, I’d seen the first Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire, and I agree that it was very much in the sprit of the comic, not some stupid grimdark reboot (thank God).
I don’t think there’s a CIA influence over these movies. I was going to write about this at some point, but a lot of miserable, shitty Real World stuff has me postponing a lot of stuff (right now, I’m just pushing out entries that had been sitting on draft mode for months).
Anyway, the long and short of it what I was going to write was that Christopher Nolan, Snyder and all of these other guys are heavily influenced by Ayn Rand, who herself was influenced by Nietzsche. A core concept of Nietzsche ideology is the “ubermensch” a new “breed” of human who was going to be so highly evolved that he would naturally be above normal, every day notions of human morality and law. Many people, like Ayn Rand and others, became captivated by this idea and took it to imagine a mythical, god-like type “superhuman” who was destined to rule over society or the world at large because they were somehow “superior” to the human race. Nolan and all the rest are pushing this ideology in their movies by rebooting superheroes in the image of this ubermensch ideal, of “super” men and women who have the right to play world police.
The reason why these CBM directors are enamored with these ideas is for the same reason Nazis and the Fascists were– the racial angle. Because all superheroes are young and white, Nolan and others don’t see them in the way they were intentionally intended (as expressions of American patriotism and notions of justice, fair play and patriotism). They identify with these characters as “white saviors” who are destined to police the world because of how superior they are to everyone else.
You can say that comic books had an influence on Rand and vice versa from the beginning. As for your takes on Nolan, maybe you’re not alone in your opinion cause it looks like he got a bit self-conscious and made the hero of new movie Tenet a Black man. I’m not going to see it because I think his stuff his overrated.
I agree that Christopher Nolan is overrated. He’s a classic case of someone being highly rated because the public is so desperate to have a director of the caliber of a Kubrick or Kurosawa that they’ll pick anyone to fit the bill.
Don’t get me wrong–Nolan is not a bad director. He’s just competent, and being competent doesn’t make you a genius or legend.
That’s exactly what it was. The only funny thing about the movie is it was the third superhero Ryan Reynolds played. Makes me miss Christopher Reeve even more. That was the last guy who made a hero his own. Look at Batman, I think it’s going on the 7th actor to play him and they can’t still fill Adam West’s boots.
Your comic book history lecture was enlightening. I had no idea that American comics were influenced by Eurocomics in the 1970s! However, your editorial about how the ’80s Dark Age comics and today’s superhero movies are “man-baby movies” failed to prove your case. You didn’t cite any examples of real life harmful immature behavior by middle-aged viewers, so one can only conclude that superhero movies are as harmless as other genres and you have only made ageist and anti-intellectual remarks against geek culture, which became mainstream since the ’80s, because of the Computer Revolution, hence the increase of superhero movies. Another reason for their popularity is “Superman the Movie”, the “Dark Knight” Batman movies by Christopher Nolan and Marvel Cinematic Universe. These movies closely followed the comics or improved on them, with realistic special effects, “A-list” actors acting and scripts, which pleased comic book fans and moviegoers, alike.
“You didn’t cite any examples of real life harmful immature behavior by middle-aged viewers…”
Because that wasn’t relevant to the point I was making.
“you have only made ageist and anti-intellectual remarks against geek culture”
If you think I’ve made “anti-intellectual remarks” against geek culture, you are actually confirming one of my biggest complaints about the current generation of CBM movies. There’s nothing intellectual about comic books, so how could I be making “anti-intellectual” comments unless you feel they are intellectual.
And I don’t think you understand what ageism means. Ageism is attacking people for being old. In this entry, I’m complaining about people not acting their age. If you’re over the age of, say, 35, you should not be as heavily invested in comic books as you were when you were a teenager, especially if it means ignoring everything else altogether. We have an entire generation of 35+ year olds who never moved past comic books to more mature sci-fi and fantasy. Why don’t you see a problem with that? I do.
“which became mainstream since the ’80s, because of the Computer Revolution, hence the increase of superhero movies.”
That’s not what happened. Again, I went to art school in the 1980s-1990s and was aspiring to be a comic.
What made comics mainstream was Tim Burton’s Batman, which invented the concept of the “reboot” and told an entire generation of people that comic books were now “mature” and “respectable.” If it hadn’t have been for that film, CBMs would’ve been more in the vein of Richard Donner’s Superman, not this grimdark nonsense.
Usually, “anti-intellectual” means prejudice against smart people. All art is intellectual, because it takes human intelligence and coordination to make any. Every movie can’t be like “Citizen Kane.” I normally would have specified “adultism” instead of ageism. The former means prejudice against young people. It better fits fiction formerly marketed to children. I said “ageism,” because the fans of CBM are now middle-aged adults. My critique of your remark is of setting any age roles, whatsoever. People are individuals, first and have different interests, regardless of age, including childhood hobbies and role models. Lots of adults work, drive cars, own or rent their own homes, date, marry and raise children, while collecting comic books, dolls, etc. Legal ages are to prevent underage drinking, child labor and molestation. Retirement age is to protect seniors from Industrial accidents, sports injuries and becoming war casualties. Recommended reading levels help children learn literacy at their own pace. In geek culture, most people read comic books and science fiction, fantasy and horror novels, like I do. I too, went to art school in the ’80s and ’90s, aspiring to be a cartoonist. Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) came after Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” and Frank Miller’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” in 1984-5. These introduced “this grimdark nonsense” into comics, before they entered movies. Other influences included ’80s ninja movies, Vietnam war movies such as “Rambo,” “Missing In Action,” neo-noir , cyberpunk and Stephen King’s horror films. Logically, a genre about gangland orphans seeking vengeance, with psi powers, would read like “Scanners-Meets -Godfather.” This is why “Logan,” “Deadpool” and “Joker” (2019) were hits. They are about an alcoholic, shell-shocked minority veteran defending his people against genocide; a mercenary with dissociative identity disorder and a mentally disabled clown’s hostile society driving him to a killing spree. Those all sound like mature subjects. Donner’s “Superman III and IV” were flops, because they cast Richard Pryor in a PG superhero movie and used non-canon villains. A good CBM series uses the comic book rogue’s gallery in all films. That’s why the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are hits.
“All art is intellectual, because it takes human intelligence and coordination to make any.”
With all due respect, you don’t seem to understand what intellectualism means. It means to have a more cerebral type of intelligence than someone who simply “knows” things–in other words, having a firm grasp of philosophical, political and other more complex topics than the average person. It has nothing to do with this definition of “intelligence and coordination.”
“Every movie can’t be like “Citizen Kane.”
Citizen Kane is not an intellectual movie. Funny that you mentioned it because I’m in the middle of writing an entry about why the movie is nowhere near as brilliant as critics claimed that it is.
” I said “ageism,” because the fans of CBM are now middle-aged adults.”
In order to have a debate with people, we have to use words as they were intended, not decide what they mean. Ageism is prejudice and discrimination against older people. It’s telling a person they can’t get a job because they’re too old or telling them they’re not worth listening to or respecting because they are too old. This has nothing to do with my complaint here about grown adults being encourage to remain child-like in their thinking and think that they’re being “intellectual” by understanding stuff that most intelligent people realized when they were in junior high school.
I ask you, once again, why you’re okay with that? Why are you okay with this idea that so many grown middle aged adults–who are leading the country now–are encouraged to remain mentally and emotionally childish?
“In geek culture, most people read comic books and science fiction, fantasy and horror novels, like I do.”
I don’t understand what you mean by “geek culture” at all when it comes to ANY of this. Throughout my entire life, the cool kids were the ones who were into comic books, fantasy and horror novels. They were not geeks.
And besides, what you call “geek culture” had nothing to do with a specific genre. It had to do with literal geeks (socially awkward nerds) who took their love of something to an unhealthy extreme. That “something” could be anything–comics, sci-fi, romance novels, etc. For example, you weren’t part of geek culture for being into Star Wars or Star Trek; you were part of geek culture if you went to conventions cosplaying as various characters, learned how to speak Klingon, had a crush on Seven of 9 or Princess Leia (not the actress but the actual character) or wrote fan fiction.
You weren’t part of geek culture for being into comic books, fantasy or horror novels; you were part of geek culture if you were so fanatical about this stuff that you created games that allowed you to role play as characters in real life (Dungeons and Dragons, Slenderman).
“These introduced “this grimdark nonsense” into comics, before they entered movies.”
That’s what I said in the essay. I said this grimdark crap started with the comics industry trying to cash on on the graphic novel/Eurocomics craze by introducing more sex, violence and nihilism. That’s literally what the first two-thirds of this piece talks about–the comics book industry.
I am really fascinated by this article! Mind if I ask you what is your political standing? (Leftist, liberal, centrist, libertarian, conservative)
I’m a left-leaning moderate (aka centrist) who registered as an Independent two years ago.
Just wanted to say this:
To the person who posted a comment the other day, I deleted your comment for the following reason:
Don’t comment on a post when it’s clear that you didn’t read the piece. You mentioned “Maus” to argue with me about my opinion about comics when I wrote extensively about it and even posted a page from the comic. What that tells me is that you didn’t even make it past three paragraphs without commenting.
I don’t mind people disagreeing with me IF they read what I wrote. When they just go off halfcocked by either skimming the article or not even reading past the headline, their comments get deleted.
This blog isn’t Reddit, 4chan, YouTube, etc., which encourages mindless, kneejerk reactions. So, don’t expect to be heard if that’s the spirit with which you intend to comment.