Montag, 21. Januar 2013

Modern comic book culture

Hello comic friends,

nowadays comic books are a high invest and wide spread pop cultural media. The big movie production in the last years, and the popularization of the "nerd-culture" have reignited the market. It seems that now it is getting "in" to read comics and nothing to be ashamed about. Even for adults. So I asked myself: is it really cool to read comics without all those influences and marketing tactics of the industry? Is it the art I appreciate or am I swimming with the tide?

First I have to confess that about three years ago in 2009 I also saw "The Big Bang Theory". In this Sit-Com the comic-culture is directly connected to those real intelligent characters. It is a charter for all readers of comics to say "Hey! Those dudes are like me! They're just high-flyer scientists but we have something in common." So it gives all of them a push to their self-esteem. Around this time I met people who shared my long forgotten passion for comics. They brought me Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Jim Lee and all those other great artists and writers and a dozen stories with an intelligent plot. In this time I focused once more on this media and started again to read. At work we build up a kind of reader circle and spoke at lunch about Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. It was really great and I explored new titles, writers and artist.

So there were the upcoming Nerd-culture, big film adaptions of comic books and a history of good works in this media which waited for a new generation of readers. And a really big bunch of crap. In all those surprisingly good titles there were bad periods of uninspired and ugly art and stories. All of it was worn out and there was nothing worth to be deeper explored. After reading those stories I nearly lost hope to find other good stories in the mainstream. But going backwards in comic history I found "Man of Steel", "A   Death in the family" or "Secret Wars" and was surprised that every era has good comics stories. A new hope. And I learned that you must carry this hope with you, when you want to read good superhero stories in the mainstream.

Today we've got a much better quality of mainstream comic books. A good example is the big DC reboot and the following Marvel Now! revision. Bad titles were canceled short after start or the creative team was recasted. We've got a very good Batman run and Morrison revived the Man of Steel right in time for the next movie in 2013. The Avengers and X-Men titles are on top positions in sales stats. The pressure on the "big two" publishers in the market is high. Readers are expecting complex and deep writing of those leaders of the market and not only of the independent publishers. That's good for both fractions and builds up a win-win situation. Also the independent publishers are gaining more ground like Image proved with the outstanding "The Walking Dead" title. Too the other media support those trends.

So comics works. But please don't misunderstand me here. Not every title out there is the next Watchmen. And it doesn't need to be! The spectrum is very wide and goes from dumb action titles to lyric and visual stunning peaces of art. Like in every other media too. And in my comeback to comics I realized the first time, that comic books are a way more than meets the eye. So I finally came to the conclusion that all this buzz about comics in other media shouldn't be worried about. Maybe without it I never would have rejoined the hobby and when you really like comics you can focus on them and ignore the rest. Like listening to the music you like without caring about the charts, gossip and films around the artist. What counts is the art.

So what do you think? Is the comic media going to change a lot under the influence of other media and the intensive marketing about it? Is the comic community changing in a hip-nerd culture with a fable for childish retrodreams on the wave of a soon fading hype?

Comments are very welcome.

Greetings Andy