Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MAN TRUE--What Is Said, What Is Heard

So, today, this happened:

"I really don’t think Marvel and DC are helping things by having gritty, R-rated versions of their superheroes in their main comics – what they sell as the “real” versions – while simultaneously selling those exact same characters in kids’ comics and plastering them all over lunchboxes and animated cartoons… Casual readership by kids, or by parents for their kids, is effectively impossible the way things are currently structured. And I think the waters are muddied too far now to claw that ground back. I think it’s insane that DC have spent 70 years making Superman as big as Mickey Mouse, and branding him to be understood by parents as being pretty much as kid-friendly as Mickey Mouse, only to piss that brand away in a decade. Nothing wrong with doing mature content in comics – in fact, it should be encouraged as often as possible – but doing it with characters who are on your kids’ lunchboxes is kind of moronic. Take a lesson from Watchmen and come up with new characters for that stuff. And then go back to Superman and Batman and put the same kind of love and effort and craft and intelligence you’ve been putting into all those rape scenes and body mutilations into something kids can read, and adults can also be proud to read because of all the love and effort and craft and intelligence you’ve put into it, and make those the “real” versions."

And then you read the comments and oh my lord, the claws come out. To hear them tell it, Roger Langridge wants to come into your house, burn all your copies of Identity Crisis, and turn back time so everything's Archie, only literally (NOTE: THAT'S NOT WHAT HE SAID)

Is this where we've got to? Where we can't even suggest that maybe kid's character belong to kids first and us second (or more correctly, fourth?) Do we immediately have kick in the throat anyone who dares to say that maybe comics should be only for the same dwindling tens of thousands who haunt the direct market like a soldier's ghost on a lost battlefield?

Apparently we do, and more's the pity.We are now at the point where the ship is sinking and the one person who dares to suggest it might be time to get our collective asses to the lifeboats while we're simultaneously bucketing out the water that is rapidly filling the ship is pointed out as some kind of heretic because he has the audacity to suggest there might be an other option that could exist in tandem with the current option with only a minor redressing of the balance (emphasis mine)

Because if we can't even find it in ourselves to even have a discussion about it without getting irrational. . .Jesus, we're fucked.

I kinda wish, to teach these people a lesson, I woke up tomorrow and everything was rolled back to the early 60's or something. No Watchmen, no Dark Knight, no nothing. Dump it all, back to first positions, start over.

Superhero comics deserve better than us. I don't know if we should have the right to ruin them anymore.


B Phat said...

I went to read Langridge's quote with a defensive attitude, but found his comments suprisingly reasonable. As a father of two young boys with whom I love to share my love of comics, I've found it a slippery slope from Superman to Superman vs. Aliens to the Aliens movies. It's good to keep comics kid-friendly and also good to honor those who want to flesh out old archetypes and bring some adult excitement to the characters that some of have loved for four decades or more. But I do hate trying to explain a character backstory to my kids when I don't know if we're dealing with an Ultimate version, a movie version, a cartoon version or the original which has become nearly unrecognizable from the stories I used to follow as a kid. My kids still don't understand why Robin sounds like a little girl on Young Justice when he's such an experienced pro on Teen Titans and Brave & the Bold. Ah, I guess dialing it back does seem like a good idea sometimes....

Kazekage said...

It's crazy, isn't it? I don't know if having multiple versions of character really helps in that--I hate to use words like "dilute the brand" but the only other word that works is "ghettoisation." You have the regular Marvel stuff which is a nightmare of insularity (Colin at Too Busy Thinking About My Comics did a great article about that here.) You have the Ultimate stuff which, let's face it, is broken beyond recognition, and the Marvel Adventures version, which, because it's been labeled as "for kids" is considered not to "count."

Gotta say--I'd hate to have to find comics for my kids here lately--if I had to, I'd probably get some Essentials or back issues from the 80's or something and hope that worked.

It sometimes does, in my more exasperated moments. :)I know it'd never happen, but when people can say without a trace of irony that they like DC Characters in anything except DC Comics, something should be done, yeah?