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Monday, June 30, 2008
Dorian, Finally, Talks About Contemporary Comics Again
ITEM! There were several points during my viewing of the film Wanted that I had a strong urge to get up and leave. You see, there are dumb action movies, and then there are films that are so fundamentally insulting to your intelligence and so massively ill-conceived in theme and structure that you find yourself idly wondering just how good the blow was that the studio executives who green lit the film had to have been snorting. Wanted is an example of the latter. I realized this somewhere between the scene where Angelina Jolie drove a car onto a train and the point where it becomes clear that the theme of the film is yet another variation of "Daddy wasn't there/didn't love me enough, so now I have a shitty job/life and don't know who I am."
As a result of this film, James McAvoy has joined Vincet Cassel and Adam Sandler on my "If Your Name Is In The Credits, I Won't See The Film" list. [Cassel for a film called Sheitan, which I would tell you to see if you doubt his worthiness for being on the list, but honestly, there is no one in the world that I hate enough to ever suggest they see that film, and Sandler for, well, anything he's ever been in.]
On the other hand, Wall E was really quite good.
ITEM! I'm still seeing some complaints about how Final Crisis is "hard to understand." And when I say "some complaints" I mean "people on message boards and also in LiveJournal communities dedicated to stealing comics." And I can't say I'm surprised by any of the complaints, because honestly, super-hero fans love to complain. I'm half convinced at times that very few of them actually like comics, they just want to have something to complain about and something to get into nerd-cock measuring contests with other people about.
I mean, Joyce's Ulysses is hard to understand. Barthelme's Snow White is challenging. Pratchett's Discworld series is easy to understand. And the work of Dan Brown is pablum. Final Crisis so far falls somewhere between Pratchett and Barthelme on the "hard to read" scale, edging more towards the Pratchett end of things. But given that most super-hero comics make Dan Brown's work look intellectually sophisticated, I'm almost prepared to believe that there are some readers out there that are so used to reading bad comics that they actually are thrown by a work that doesn't hold their hands, explain the plot in every detail, spell out character motivations in simple declarative statements, and rely on the same set-piece, namely a big fight, to move the story along in every issue.
A far more likely explanation for the complaints, other than the "nerds just like to have something to complain about" angle, is that the people making the complaint actually aren't reading the comic. And by that, I mean both the folks that are not actually buying it and reading it, though they make like at a few pages or panels on-line, stripped of context and narrative, and basing their statement on that, and I mean the people who are buying it, but not actually reading it, because they're flipping through it, looking at the pictures, and trying to piece together the story that way, because you can with the majority of comics. And they're being thrown by the novelty of actually having to read a comic book.
ITEM! The recent arm-chair quarter-backing a lot of blogs and message boards engaged in was entertaining to watch, but ultimately depressing. What it all boiled down to was a bunch of disgruntled nerds and members of the comic book punditocracy, many of whom had a glaringly obvious axe to grind, none of them people who had ever really worked a creative job in their lives, playing a game of "If I Ran The Zoo" and pretending that anyone in a position of actual power in the comics industry gave a damn about what they thought. It was entertaining, because I kept imagining what the kinds of comic book companies these people were proposing would look like, and all I could picture was some horrible little start-up company that puts out one issue of the most cliche-ridden comic ever in its ten months of existence, before collapsing in an insurmountable debt-hole. And depressing, because I realized that all these people were serious, and they actually thought their ideas were any good.