Mike Gold: It’s about time
I was listening with keen interest to Mike Raub’s interview with my old friend, DC publisher and president Paul Levitz, available on the current (#12) ComicMix Podcast. Back in the days of papyrus scrolls, Mike, Paul and I were in an a.p.a. (amateur press association; a forerunner of the Internet) called Interlac. It was great fun, and if I’m not mistaken it’s still around in the more capable hands of those who still own staplers.
Anyway, Mike asked Paul for his opinion as to the single greatest change in the comics medium in the 35 years since he ran a massively influential fanzine called The Comic Reader. Without dropping a beat, Paul talked about the acceptance of the comic art medium.
A couple hours later I found myself debating which would be the least expensive way to see the movie 300: my AARP card or the first-showing matinee. Linda and I piled into the car and drove up I-95 to watch the carnage. I’m referring to the movie, and not I-95.
Later on TiVo showed us the latest episode of Ebert and Roeper, where 300 lead the discussion. Mind you, I regretted the passing of the show’s original co-host, Gene Siskel. Unbeknownst to much of humanity, Gene was a serious fan of Roy Thomas’s Conan work and at one time had at least three complete collections. But then again, he might have reviewed the movie through the eyes of a comics’ fan. I doubt that, but roll with me for a while longer.
Roeper reviewed the movie and loved it. He commented at length about the evolution of the graphic novel-based movie without once referring to costumes and capes (oddly, 300 had both – but you get my drift) and Frank Miller’s influence on comics, film, and our culture in general. He spoke of Miller’s work the way arts critics speak of Martin Scorsese, John Lennon and Philip Roth. Not a single word was condescending. Not one.
And it’s about time. Paul’s perception is right on the money. In earlier days we would look to the movies as justification for our four-color passions, as if to say “see, somebody else is taking us seriously.” That played a big, big part in our enthusiasm for Richard Donner’s Superman – The Movie. Today, we no longer need to prove anything to anybody.
Previously, I stated in this column that respectability might be the death of us. I still feel that’s a possibility: I’d hate to see the comic art medium be taken as seriously by its fans as those many rock’n’roll enthusiasts who lost their sense of humor and perspective a long time ago.
But if respectability is the death of comics, at least we’ll get a well-written obituary.