Tagged: Comic Book Movies

Martha Thomases: Subversive Family Reading

Over the weekend, while all the cool kids were in Baltimore for the Harvey Awards and the convention, I was at a family wedding. As such occasions are wont to do, I ruminated over my life and times.

On Friday night, at the rehearsal dinner, I was talking with a cousin who remembered that visiting our house as a child was fun because we had comic books, which her mother didn’t allow. At that time (late 1950s to early 1960s), comic books were still accused of causing juvenile delinquency, disrespect for authority and Communism.

Certainly, they did that to me.

My cousin’s life is about as different from mine as I can imagine, given our demographic similarities (over 60, female, college educated, Jewish). I live in an apartment in Manhattan; she lives in a rural part of western New York State. Until recently she worked as a carpenter; I expect it to be front-page news when I successfully change a light bulb. I know more about the Democratic candidate for Congress in her district than she does.

We both have fond memories of sitting on the porch, a pile of comics between us.

Another guest, who was not a relative, had never seen a graphic novel. He didn’t know what the term meant, thinking perhaps it was a more polite way to say pornography. We talked about the kinds of books and movies he liked, and I recommended some titles that I thought would fit with his tastes.

Why does this still happen? It’s been more than forty years since Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams were written up in the New York Times Magazine for bringing a grown-up sensibility to comics with story lines “ripped from the headlines” (and much more nuanced than your average episode of Law & Order). Major bookstores at the mall have graphic novel sections. It’s one of the few growth sectors of the publishing business.

But random people still only know comics from their childhood, if at all.

They know about “comic book movies” as a genre, but think it means Batman, Iron Man, The Avengers and, maybe, Guardians of the Galaxy. They don’t know that it includes films as diverse as Scott Pilgrim and Road to Perdition and A History of Violence and Two Guns.

Why should we fix this?

Self-interest, at the least. We enjoy the medium. Some of us support our families by working in it. Because it increases the amount of interaction between the two hemispheres of our brains.

The world is better when there are lots of different kinds of comics, appealing to lots of different kinds of readers. We shouldn’t have to raise money for the people who made the medium more diverse and appealing. We shouldn’t need a movie to justify our enjoyment of the source material. We shouldn’t need to have to keep explaining that comics aren’t just for kids anymore.

How do we fix this?

I think most of the responsibility falls to us, the people who love comics, who write about comics, who create comics. We need to show that we are as varied as the people who love any other popular entertainments. We are old and young, conservative and progressive, queer, straight male, female and other. Some of us like to wear costumes for occasions other than Halloween, and some of us don’t even like to wear them then.

There is no more a typical comic book reader than there is a typical movie-goer.

(Note: I’m aware that there exist statistics that show younger people are more likely to go to the movies, but first, those statistics vary widely, and second, my point still stands. Nyaah nyaah nyaah.)

It’s a big task, and we won’t accomplish it overnight. However, it’s the kind of challenge that is most successful when a lot of people do simple, easy things, rather than a few people dedicating their every waking moment to the cause. For example, I often refer to a graphic novel I’ve read in conversation, as if reading graphic novels is something that educated people do (because it is). When I give out candy and money for UNICEF at Halloween, I include comic books as one of the treats.

Not difficult. Not earth-shattering. Way more effective if we all do it.

The wedding was lovely, by the way. The party afterwards was big fun, too. I only had to sneak away a few times to see if my pal was winning any Harvey Awards.


Dennis O’Neil: Too Many Superheroes?

SuperheroesI’m about to use a word that may be offensive to some, so if you’re one of them, I suggest you leave. You can make a ruckus as you go if you like; we judge here, but we do not blame.

Evolution. That’s the word, and now it’s out there. It may or may not recur as we proceed down the page.

The occasion is an item in Yahoo’s news site over weekend reporting that the moviemakers at Marvel and DC have their superhero schedule figured out for the next five years. Not all the t’s are crossed, but apparently The Big Two know how many superhero flicks they plan to make and when they’ll be putting these entertainments on a screen near you. And they don’t intend to skimp on quantity.

And I’ll probably see many, if not most, of them, so these are not the remarks of a disgruntled septuagenarian who wonders why nobody out there in that Hollywood makes Hopalong Cassidy pictures because, dang it, they were entertaining. But I can’t help wondering if there isn’t such a thing as too much, a saturation point, and if superheroes aren’t fast approaching it. (And in the case of guys like Superman and the Flash, that “fast” is fast!)

Then there’s television. I can think of at least three superhero weekly outings destined for a screen near you – the one in your living room – and my information is probably incomplete.

Bottom line: too many superheroes?

But that wasn’t really the bottom line because, while we’re in wondering mode, we’ll wonder if the superhero situation isn’t a small edge of a much, much larger one.

Consider these facts, culled from a New York Times piece by Daniel J. Levitin: we citizens are exposed to the equivalent of 174 newspapers worth of information on a typical day; over in TV land, the world’s video broadcasters produce 85,000 hours of original programming daily.

If you’re Joe Average, you spent five hours a day watching your living room tv set.

The brain fodder comes at us in the form of cop shows, sitcoms, news, commercials, stuff that’s playing in the background (but is nonetheless seeping into your psyche), and the books you read, and comic books you read and the magazines you page through,, and billboards, and bus ads, and Facebook and what that smart young fella down at work says…

Mr. Levitin tells us that “the processing capacity of the conscious mind is limited.”

Evolution gave us the ability to make narratives – tell stories – so that infants could began to make sense of all that garble by figuring out that effects have causes and grownups could discern patterns that might be useful for survival and construct personal identities and from there stories evolved into myths, drama, songs, campfire tales and commercialscomicbookstelevisionshow…

You can fill in the rest of the blanks.

Mr. Levitin deserves a direct quote: “Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message … is competing for resources in your brain…”

How about every story you read/hear/see? Any competition for resources there?

As is so often the case, I don’t know. But no harm in asking, is there?

You anti-evolutionists can come back in now.


The Point Radio: HOW STUFF WORKS Heads To TV

The popular podcast HOW STUFF WORKS moves to a new medium early in 2013 when the Science Channel launches the HSW television series. We talk to the guys behind it on how they are creating a hybrid reality show/situation comedy, plus doing an episode dedicated to comic book movies. Meanwhile, KOJACK gets closer to a reboot and DC says goodbye to THE SPIRIT.

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

L’shana tova, ComicMixers! As we enter the year 5771, may you stay healthy, wealthy, and grow all the wiser.

May your blessings be bountiful, your crops remain unspoiled, and your comic books stay relevant and interesting.

Let this new year bring fewer company wide crossovers, unnecessary mini-series, and character revamps that skew towards the dark and macabre.

May the brightest days and heroic ages in which we live stay bright and heroic.

May Superman finish his walk across America and realize he should have flown.

May Wonder Woman remember she’s better off in a one piece and boots, sans jacket.

May all 350 X-Men and Avengers Teams maintain a roster for longer than 2 months.

And may all comic book movies fare better than Scott Pilgrim.

Without further adieu… a lil’ mashup for all our Jewish brethren. Tip of the hat to Lisa Sullivan.

‘Captain America’: The Movie!

‘Captain America’: The Movie!

No, not the new one coming out in a few years– the 1990 one.

Starring Matt Salinger as Steve Rogers, we bring you this film as a reminder of how comic book movies used to be.

(Hat tip: David Gallaher.)

It’s a new year, and you know what that means…

It’s a new year, and you know what that means…

now we can start really compiling the best of the year lists. Dammit, you just don’t do that until you have a full year done. It’s like buying gifts for Jewish kids that haven’t been born yet.

We’ll be posting lists in the next few days, and soliciting your opinions for even more lists, but I’ll kick it off with some of my favorite posts from ComicMix in the past year…

* The Worst Movies Adapted From Comic Books: because you can never take enough cheap shots at David Hasselhoff.

* Must reads before the movies: there were a lot of comic-book movies this year, maybe you heard. (Heard? Heck, you contributed to the billion-dollar bottom line. A lot.) So we gave you recommended reading lists for The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and The Spirit.

* Speaking of The Dark Knight, there was our interview with Heath Ledger over at ComicMix Radio.

* And even though it technically happened last year, John Ostrander’s tribute to Zeus was touching and heartfelt.

What about you? What were your favorite pieces of ours?


Comic Book Movies Hit $1 Billion

Comic book movies have finally been unseated from the top of the box office mountain, as the latest Mummy movie displaced The Dark Knight.

But there’s still no debating this being the summer of the superhero, as comic book movies hit one HUH-YUGE milestone: $1 billion in ticket sales, according to boxofficemojo.com.

That includes Chris Nolan’s Batman sequel (which is up to $363 million), Hellboy 2, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. Am I forgetting any?

Dark Knight was also the fastest movie to hit $350 million in sales, doing so in a scant 14 days. That’s nine days faster than the previous best, set by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

UPDATE — More official numbers now indicate Dark Knight is No. 1 again at the Box Office, pulling in $43.8 million to $42.5 for the Mummy. It’s also poised to hit $400 million by early this week, now only $5.1 million short of that marker.

Official ‘Hellboy II’ Poster Revealed

Official ‘Hellboy II’ Poster Revealed

When it comes to comic book movies this summer, most of the attention has been focused on Iron Man and The Dark Knight. What about the man with the big red fist?

Hellboy II: The Golden Army hits theaters on July 11 and has the potential to be the best of the lot. After all, Academy Award nominated director Guillermo del Toro is at the helm of the picture and it stars Ron Perlman. Everyone loves Ron Perlman, right?

The marketing machine for the upcoming sequel is starting to kick into gear, beginning with the release of the official one-sheet poster you’re sure to see in the multiplex soon. Sure, it’s not as cool as the Drew Struzan poster, but nothing is. Struzan posters are just too awesome for the common man. Besides, this official poster has everything you need to know about the film: there’s a red guy with a big fist and a gun. Enough said.

For a look at the full sized poster, visit Superhero Hype and judge for yourself how cool Hellboy’s leather pants are.

(And if you haven’t done so already, check out our ComicMix TV interviews with del Toro and cast of Hellboy II: The Golden Army)