I don’t talk about comics too much on here anymore. That’s a shame, I should.
Part of the problem stems from this glorification of “geek” culture, which makes media like comic books and video games bigger business and therefor more susceptible to the trappings of mainstream culture in a world of corporations and conglomerates.
I picked up a stack of books today at my local comic store (Big Brain Comics). The local comic book shop — known in certain circles as “LCS” — is, thankfully, one of the few things that hasn’t changed in the wake of comic book properties as “big business”. I hesitate to use simply “comic books” because by and large comic books aren’t reaping the millions of dollars in benefits the comics-to-film boom has resulted in, with sales relatively stagnant since the days of the first X-Men and Spiderman movies (some time around that point marked the “beginning”). Comic book creators, bless ‘em, deserve a huge piece of that pie, and I don’t begrudge them that. But as far as I’ve heard and read, they aren’t getting much (other than maybe the ones who really, really go out of their way for it; Mark Millar, Frank Miller).
So the comics-to-film boom and the glorification of “geek” culture has not resulted in a more successful comic BOOK industry necessarily (trades perhaps, but sold in a national bookstore like B&N or Amazon, not single issues) nor significantly more comfortable comic book creators nor local comic shops.
This is going somewhere.
One of the books I read regularly is called SCALPED. It is a prime example of what the comic book as a piece of art is capable of. A singular experience, unlike anything else. As intelligent as an art-house film, as comprehensive and dense as a world famous novel, as breathtaking as classic art. It may one day take shape as an HBO mini, a legitimate (cable only, due to adult themes) television series, or even a film; but as of now, it is a comic and a comic only. It’s printed under DC’s imprint Vertigo, a subset of the company specializing in a more off-kilter and adult form of comics books. No tights and underwear. Point being: lots of people who read SCALPED could care less about the mainstream DC Universe (or it’s upcoming historical revision/reboot…). I don’t care.
Am I right? But it doesn’t stop there.
This is an intense comic. Several different threads in the book — all interconnected — have led up to this conversation and moment between two characters that have been there since the beginning. It is also a landmark comic, of sorts, being the 49th issue and setting up the penultimate 50th issue. SCALPED is coming to a close, I sense, and this issue really ups the ante in terms of what it’s all for, where it’s all leading, and who will live or die.
In the middle of this moment, this very important moment for the history of the book, is a short comic promoting the (surprise, surprise) new JJ Abrams movie Super 8. Why, you say? Well, it’s really simple when you think in terms of conglomerates and subsidiaries. Super 8 was produced by Paramount Pictures. Paramount Pictures is a Viacom company. And Viacom is one of the top 4 media conglomerates… behind one corporation called Disney, who now owns DC’s (who owns Vertigo) only major competitor, Marvel Comics Inc.
Making sense yet? Do all you want with these huge properties. Make all the movies and sequels. Advertise all that shit on the front of The Flash and Green Lantern. But please, don’t fuck with my SCALPED. Just let us “geeks” — I don’t even know what that means anymore — have this one thing to ourselves. Just this one. Leave it alone with your advertisements and your subsidiaries. Please.