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Are Comics Dead?

Another response to my Indian Comics Irregular essay Comic Books, R.I.P.?

>> I think that "Black Scorpion" is less a case of a "typical" comic book adaptation than a Roger Corman production being a Roger Corman production. <<

I'm just going by what the network general manager said. She explicitly described it in comic book terms.

>> Given Corman's general aesthetic, I think "Black Scorpion" might look exactly the way it does now even if it did *not* have comic book roots. <<

Even if Corman weren't familiar with comics, which he clearly is, I think we could say a comic book aesthetic pervades his work. By a "comic book aesthetic" I mean a focus on crude elements, especially sex and violence, at the expense of intelligent ones. Whether this aesthetic derives solely from comic books or not, it's present in much of our media—rap music, video games, and movies—these days. It's much more prevalent now than it was in the olden days (see my original Media Violence Then and Now message for more on that).

>> Whether or not the overall comic book situation warrants grave concern at the moment (and I'm not sure it does, since right now Hollywood seems to see comic books as the well from which the Next Big Thing will be drawn, so *somebody* must be reading them), <<

Didn't I cover that in my X-Movie posting? Anyway, the producers are using old comic book properties—in some cases, decades old. Even if the movies are successful—X-Men, the Batman movies, The Mask—they've done little to change either the movie or the comic book landscape.

In comics, sadly, the only change is that the X-Men comics are starting to look exactly like the movie. Such pandering shows a creative void. It won't keep Marvel, for one, from canceling several X-Men-related comics, which they're about to do.

Similarly, Blade the movie didn't help BLADE the comic, which Marvel has canceled. If THE MASK is still being published, no one knows about it or cares. So these movies may give the comic book companies some short-term income, but they do little or nothing to revitalize the genre.

An analogous situation might be the Pokemón fad. When you get to the point of doing a Pokemón movie or two, you know the fad is in trouble. The movie probably made the Pokemón people some money, but kids have moved on to the next big thing.

IOW, I don't think the Pokemón movie brought in new fans or gave new life to the Pokemón phenomenon. If anything, it probably drove off the core fans and hastened the fad's decline. A comic book movie may produce similar results. It may not hurt the industry, but I doubt it helps it much.

This is creatively spinning your wheels, which is about what I've labeled it. The comic book industry has tried all sorts of stunts and gimmicks in the last decade—e.g., holographic and variant covers, mega-crossovers, the "Death of Superman." They all produce bursts of interest and no doubt some much-needed income. They don't signal that the industry is anything but creatively moribund.

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