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Whither Comics After the X-Movie?

Finally saw it!

I felt about the same as the critics have. It was stylish, entertaining, and fun, but not especially deep. It was your typical comic book translated to the big screen.

I give the movie an 8.5 of 10. I can see why it did as it did at the box office. It's a fun ride, but it doesn't have the mythic grandeur of a Star Wars to bring fans back for repeated viewings. Nor does it have the depth to bring in adults who don't read comic books. As someone said, it basically preaches to the faithful.

Given all the comic-based movies that have failed, I'm glad it's a success. I doubt it'll revitalize the comic book industry. How many who don't know about the X-Men will see this movie and decide to become fans? How many will remain fans after they pick up Claremont's latest mishmash and see it bears almost no relation to the movie?

The movie confirms what I've said all along. I saw it at a "bargain" matinee for $5.25, which paid for two hours of entertainment. The movie's novelization is probably $5.99 or $6.99 for 4-6 hours of entertainment. And the comic book version of the movie? It's probably $3.95 or $4.95 for 15 minutes of entertainment.

In short, the movie does little more than maintain the status quo, and the status quo isn't good. Comics are losing to the competition and rightly so. They don't provide as much bang for the buck.

I was in the bookstore last Saturday. I was impressed with all the publishing activity I saw. Lots of multi-part series in the sci-fi and fantasy section, which was about 50% larger than I remember it. Novels about Buffy, Conan, Aliens, Dr. Who, Babylon 5, and so forth and so on. Whole new series featuring Star Trek and Star Wars. The same activity was evident in the children's and young adult sections, with series like Goosebumps, Animorphs, Dinotopia, and of course Harry Potter.

A guy named Harry Turtledove, who I'm not sure existed five years ago, has published 15-20 novels of alternate history adventures. Neil Gaiman is doing novels these days. Comic book writers like Peter David are busy writing books for Babylon 5 and Dinotopia.

Meanwhile, there were a couple of X-Men novels and one rack of old Superman and Batman trade paperbacks. The message? A market for fantastic adventure is out there. It seems to be bigger than ever. But comic books are not tapping into it. They're falling by the wayside.

I don't know what the solution is, but it isn't to keep publishing the same old comics at the same old price points. That's the road to extinction, in my humble opinion.

Related links
The future of comics

Readers respond
"Why read when you can sit back and let the same storylines...wash over you?"
"The X-Men film is as soulless as the characters themselves are...."
"I think the movie wound up being kind of neutral in terms of ethnic politics...."

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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