From The Front Desk To Your Desk...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Face of Evil

Today I saw a Legion of Doom walking down the street. I have made many outrageous claims before, but in this case I am sure that the horde of the damned that I saw coming down the street on my way to the Pavilion’s had nothing but malice and Manson in their hearts.

Allow me to elucidate. I leave the office for a quick break around 11:00 and head out to the Grocery store. I’m more or less going for the walk, but over the last three Wednesdays I have purchased a lottery ticket there and I just have this feeling…my number is going to be coming up soon. Right? So anyhow, I’m walking down the street and I see them: I line of Raven black shadows and bone white skin sauntering down the sidewalk, three deep, five across. The silver buckles on their ragged black skirts and oversized cargo pants clinked and clanged as they walked, nay, meandered down Santa Monica. These weren’t your garden-variety high school girls, bent on not conforming (which I always laugh at since their prescribed method of nonconformance is to turn around and conform to an apparently stricter code), these Goths were all over the map. Fatties and Thinnies, tall and short, male and female, united in the furtherance of black eye shadow, finger gauntlets, and a rather limited collection of Nightmare Before Christmas T shirts.

Gothic kids have always fascinated me, partly because of a peculiar interest several of my own friends had in those of the pseudo-vamparitic persuasion. But I was not about to stand and gawk as this army of darkness marched on their melancholy way. Well, they didn’t march so much as they rambled listlessly. It was strange to see such a concentration of people, in the middle of West Hollywood, with the sun blaring down upon them, but once they passed I continued into Pavilion’s bought my lottery ticket and apple and proceeded to head back to the office.

And then I saw true evil.

Standing outside of my neighborhood Starbucks, hence forth to be known as the Nexus of Evil, was the Goth Army. And to a man and woman they were slurping down on Carmel Machiada’s, and Frappicinos while they glared at anyone who walked by. If such a force can be so easily swayed by the power of Starbucks then I think that we may be in more trouble then I ever imagined.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Reposte!

I have busied myself with reviewing some of the statements posted by other folks who have taken the time to read and respond (in there own way) to my ramblings. I realize that a possible misinterpretation of some of my points has occurred, and rather then go back into my posts and make myself more clear I suppose the right thing to do would be to attempt at clarifying myself a bit here in the present. It would appear that there was an original point and, by a fault of my own it has become tangles in several other interesting topics.

I never meant to imply that comics haven’t changes since I began reading them. That would be absurd to expect any kind of sweeping changes in characters and plots, in whole universes even, in the brief five years that I have been into this stuff. I meant to imply that it is odd that Superhero comics might be the only mass-produced art form that I know of that has not been forcefully pushed into an evolution or a change by the fans that love it. Instead, it would seem, at least based on the conversations I have had with these bespoke fans that the opposite is normal. I did not mean to say that the fans can’t take or wont approve of new and edgier stories; it’s just that the fans seem to be happy with the status quo, and any attempt to progress characters and plot lines away from what has been established as part of the unchanging cannon would appear to be frowned upon. While there may be special release titles or limited run stories that are completely awesome, I hardly think that is reason enough to justify a continual run of the books. If you don’t have something nice to say…well you know. There must be some reason why they keep coming out and that apparently is that the fans demand it. They want their heroes.

I used language like “suck” and as I admitted before, I was really looking to get a rise out of folks. I would also like to take a moment to call attention to the fact that this all started (and was significantly side railed) with an answer to the statement, “ Why is an overwhelming amount of the youth population gravitating away from Marvel and DC and heading straight for import titles?” I stand by my original statement that it might very well be a result of a non intended alienation effect that the bigger SH titles have with new readers. If I have the choice between a compelling story that I can relate to on some level, where the characters look like me, and a huge tight wearing guy who can leap tall buildings with a single bound, I am going (as a kid mind you…) probably want to go after the one that is “like” me. All that being said, I should underline the part about this being my opinion.

Lastly (for now) in direct response to the postings on Kinder Words, it would appear that the argument that the comics I like would never be around if it wasn’t for capes and tights who sell millions upon billions of dollars worth of comics a year is a bit…um…well faulty. At its most basic and logical point, that may be the truth…in order for these companies to keep producing good comics and great stories, they have to have a cash cow and the bigger titles afford them that. But the argument, dear JOA, is a soulless mathematical argument, and argument about necessary (and I use the word sparingly) evils. So if you want to talk about the economics of the situation that may very well be a better discussed on its own.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Quandry

People suck.

The question at hand is why do they suck? I was going to prattle on for a while about why "the people" that I am personaly refering to suck a big one. I was going to recount my day, and how a person a single person who can't...wow almost went into it there. Let's just say that I will spare myself the trouble of putting the anger into more words then it deserves, and anyone else the frustration of fighting through my generally overwrought prose.

So where was I...Oh yes people suck. People say this a lot, but what I really want to know is why do some people suck more then others, and do you think that they know that they suck.

This post officially makes me sound like a 14 year old girl.

Great.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Slinking Towards DOOM!

Recently I made some…statements about super hero comics. I came down kind of hard on them, even though I am admittedly very new to the genre. I think I need to clarify here. What I wanted to say, what I tried to say, is that for me there is no big surprise that a growing majority of new readers of comics are running into the arms of Japanese Imports and choosing to ignore the Classic titles often associated with Superheros.

I really wasn’t to clear about this when I said it, looking more to get a rise out of the few people who might stumble across this site and have feelings one way or the other. I think what I was trying to build to before I got tuckered out was that no art form, be it literature, movies, theatre, or whatever pick your poison I don’t care, never survives stagnation and repetition without some negative backlash to either the art form, those who process it, or the very people who propagate it. It has been documented in the past throughout a variety of artistic movements here at home and abroad that this kind of stagnation, of overstating ideas and failing to push forward can, overtime, become cancerous and kill the whole damn form.

Don’t I sound like a ponce?

Applying these principals to comics, we can see the potential for such a fall in the industry when we look at the classics that are still printed regularly. Archie has been in circulation since 1940. Superman has been saving the day a few times a month since ’38. Batman since ’39. Any story line that goes on for over 60 years with virtually no interruption is bound to run into problems in regards to the power and punch of the stories it can tell if it is not openly permitted by the people who are taking it in to try new things, to morph and evolve. In theatre and film this has been the way of things since the inception of each medium 4000 and 100 years ago respectively. Things change, naturally, in order to avoid stagnation. The people demand it, they call for it. Look at Westerns…every studio in the world was producing westerns forty years ago. A whole generation of people was reared on them. But people changed and the art (I know that’s a stretch) changed with them in order to survive.

Comics then would appear to be an exception to the rule. A change in Superman that would significantly alter the rules of engagement would be met by fans as terrible. There would be picket lines and online petitions. The publishers would never radically change the book, for fear of reaping a hell of a lot of shit from the readers. People might very well stop reading if there was a major change, not the other way around. It would seem that Superhero comics exist in a vacuum, and unlike any other kind of “art” the people who take it in do not demand evolution, but would rather see the status quo maintained. Now I suppose the question I want to ask is this: why?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A Statement of Fact

I discovered comics as an adult, not because I sought them out, but because they found me. A friend had a horde of comics spread across his dorm room, and as I waited for everyone to get ready to go to dinner I started paging though Alan Moore’s From Hell. I was sucked in immediately and I finished the book (nearly as large as the White Pages) in a weekend of heavy reading. Reflecting back on the event now I suppose it might have been equally possible for me to become interested in subsistence farming, composting, or the sudden deforestation of the campus had the literature been immediately at hand. Thankfully though, books about these things were absent, and comics were what I was surrounded with.

I moved from From Hell to Preacher, and then Later to Sandman. This as a foundation, I find now that my interests when I can get to the Store lean towards things like Fables, Lucifer,Ex Machina, and the like. I never really got into caps and cowls and to be honest I never even thought about it much. But a recent water cooler talk about comics got me to thinking: the reason I don’t like super hero comics (I will say it now, I don’t like MOST superhero comics, NOT all) is because they generally suck.

Let me clarify a bit. They don’t suck completely, its just that anything that has been running, with little to no change for the past forty years is going to seem tired, old, and Byzantine when it comes to plot and character development. I guess its just a personal choice, I like what I like because I get the impression that the author is going somewhere, that he or she has a story in mind, a tale to tell with their characters and is not just listlessly setting up obstacles for their heroes to fell. There seems to be a through line, a sense of drama…and perhaps danger. You get the impression that if one of these characters die or get maimed, they will are really hurt and will carry that hurt with them throughout the rest of the story. The Super hero’s, at least from this outsider’s perspective, seem to exist largely because of precedent. Spider Man will not suddenly run our of web and drown in the Hudson. Superman has proven his refusal to die. Wonder woman will never pass on the bracers and go off to retirement in Dade County. And all because of a rabid fan base that, again this is from my limited experience, doesn’t really like any new storyline, but is clinging to something from the glory days.

This whole rant is the result of a discussion about the prevalence of Manga in American bookstores. As it turns out, more and more of our teens are turning away from the superhero’s and embracing these Japanese transplants. I always thought it was a fad and that it would pass. But a worker sent me this article, recently reprinted on cnn.com, that talks about how Manga is opening comics up to a whole new audience. The question that he had, which is addressed in the article, is what do these books about psychic teens, giant robots, and mundane magical powers have that the Hulk doesn’t? That is a question that I am no where near qualified to answer and of course would love to see a discussion about. But a little more reading seems to indicate that these imports deal with big casts of characters that act and talk like kids, that (despite some obvious cultural differences) are easier to identify with. Lastly it would appear that most of these stories realize they are in fact comics…and doing so may relieve some of the false sense of gravity associated with several older titles here in the USA, making them much more accessible to the casual reader. So, to the world I say: Thoughts?