Wednesday, August 27, 2008
COMICS MUST SURVIVE!
Allow me a little editorial. The year is 2008 and comic book-based theatrical films, video games, direct-to-DVD animated pictures and toys are all the rage. Veteran comic book fans beam with pride, seeing their beloved characters achieve glory outside of their original medium, after decades of paper confinement. But what about comics themselves? How many of those who purchased tickets to see the latest Iron Man, Batman, X-Men or Spiderman flicks have actually READ Demon in a Bottle, The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Phoenix Saga or any Spidey tales by Stan Lee and Romita? Road to Perdition, A History of Violence, Men in Black? How many will actually go out and pick up any of the new outstanding comics published this week? People read less than ever. Consequently, all readable fiction suffers. Comic readership continues to decline, even during these times of fame. The industry must face the fact that audiences are not lining up to see comic book-based films because they are comic book-based films. They are going because the movies are exciting and the characters are fun. Hollywood finally figured out there was a lot of great source material in comics, which is a wonderful thing, since it had completely given up trying to create its own original pictures. But where will this current feeding frenzy leave comics and its creators? During the 80s and 90s, Hong Kong produced over 160 pictures per year. Until Hollywood discovered it. The former colony's top talent was lured to the studios and, for a short period of time, martial arts films took over the box-office. Then, Sony unleashed Spiderman. Today, the kicks and yells are quiet. Hong Kong icons like John Woo, Ringo Lam and Corey Yuen have been sent home packing. But to what? Last year, Hong Kong cranked out less than 50 pictures. Its legendary action films are a thing of the past. Dead. There is no next Jackie Chan or Jet Li. I can't help but look at the so-called current comic book craze with uneasiness. Comics are the original American art form, a unique marriage of pictures and words. They continue to give us innovative, bold and exciting works of fiction, but they need to reach the next generation, not through films, video games or toys that do not feature the artistry of its creators, but as comic books. They are in bad need of their Harry Potter.