Dennis O’Neil: Camelot 3000 and College Curricula

Camelot 3000I must have been aware of Camelot 3000 back when it was appearing in 12 parts, from 1982 to 1985, me being a honkin’ big comics pro and all, and there were a lot of comics strewing my life. And, by then, I’d known the series writer, Mike W. Barr, for years. But I don’t know how many of the installments I read, if any. As mentioned above, there were a lot of comics around me and though I was a pretty dedicated reader of things in general, I might have skipped over any comic book in which I had no professional interest. If I did miss Camelot 3000, my bad.

A few hours ago, Mari and I were watching a video course offered by The Teaching Company – let us simultaneously bow our heads and cheer – taught by a charismatic professor named Dorsey Armstrong. It dealt with a subject we don’t know much about, so sure, we were happy to learn something. We’re glad we did. If you think I’m recommending the course, you’re right, and so you should know its title. Happy to oblige: . Dr. Armstrong had reached the section of her presentation that deals with the twentieth century Arthur and spoke of Marian Zimmer Bradley’s Arthurian novels – you might know The Mists of Avalon – and then she began to talk about Mike Barr’s comics. I perked up.

Before we get to the paeans, an observation:

The inclusion of a comic book series in a course devoted to “capital L” Literature is yet further evidence that comics, as both a narrative form and a commercial enterprise, have reached full parity with all other media. (That doesn’t mean that comics, or any other print medium, assembles the mountains of money that the movies adapted from them do. But without comics, those adaptations wouldn’t happen. Duh.)

Comics are an accepted part of college curricula. Live with it, scoffers.

So what is Dr. Armstrong’s opinion of Mike Barr’s comic books? In a word: praiseworthy. She briefly discusses the plot and Mike’s take on the characters and makes the whole shebang sound both interesting – a good read – and a worthy addition to a renowned series of tales, some of which have survived for centuries.

I assume that DC Comics’ excellent library survived the company’s recent monster trek west and that it includes Camelot 3000. And I assume that somebody is in charge of reprints, though I have no idea who that might be. But whoever has that job might want to have a look at Mike Barr’s old maxi-series and consider offering it to a generation of fans who may be totally ignorant of it.