Comics; Recycle, Re-Create, Re-Use

Comics are a form of literature that will never die. Recently a comic came across my computer that got me thinking about how comics evolve and continue to exist. In class we looked at the blog Garfield minus Garfield, as well we have two different versions of Batman on our syllabus. Comics seem to exist and evolve outside the ‘normal’ literature. Characters are reused by different authors and artists are constantly redrawing and designing characters, this is especially notable in the superhero industry. In the case of Garfield minus Garfield the author of the blog simply erased Garfield to show John as an angst ridden existentialist, this evolution of a newspaper comic strip to something different shows how any comic can evolve through the collaboration of others and be accepted and promoted. I am aware that there are comic authors and artists out there that would take offense if their work was being used for a different purpose or characters were being used by another author. Yet the collaboration that occurs in comics between artists, writers, and designer is different than any other form of literature.

Comics are sometime looked down upon by other writers of literature and yet the comic form can present a collaboration of talents and bring artists together to create these works. It is funny to think of how many different versions of Batman there are, how many writers and artists have contributed to its creation and evolution. The character doesn’t die when one writer is finished with it but continues on in new forms. Yet when an author of a novel finishes their work, their characters are done and they are the ultimate authority on their characters. Fan fictions certainly pop up but unless the plot is written by the original author the stories have very little credit. Whereas when a new artist and writer pick up a comic character they have the ability to evolve the character and story beyond the original.

The comic that caught my attention and spurred this blog can be found here:

This artist took the Pokemon universe and turned it into a film noir styled comic but sadly they only did it for 4 pages (so far).

– How would you feel if another author picked up your favorite authors characters and began writing a story about the characters?

– Is this an attributing factor to the perception that comics are a “lesser’ form of literature?

-Teigan Blondin de Boer

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7 Responses to Comics; Recycle, Re-Create, Re-Use

  1. mackenziestrang says:

    This is an interesting topic. I hadn’t thought of that being one of the reasons of why comics are viewed as a lesser form of literature.

    When I first read your discussion questions, I thought to myself “Well, I’d be very upset if another author tried to hijack my favourite stories”. Since much of a story relies on the wit, humour, and insight of the particular person writing it, I couldn’t see how the re-created, recycled, or re-used version would be anything other than a knock off of the original.

    But then it occurred to me: Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Nolan’s take on Batman is by far my favourite interpretation and representation of Batman in film. It is very common (like you said regarding comics), to re-use ideas in the superhero genre. And no one thinks anything of it.

    Giving authors or directors a creative license can actually result in great work that is added to fans’ collection of beloved comic books or films. It’s interesting how this is so acceptable and sometimes very successful in the superhero genre, yet I can’t see it working as well with a drama.

  2. OliviaH says:

    Your topic caught my eye because I do see superheroes and other characters being reused and I feel as if we are losing imagination on different types of characters. I remember there was this television series called Teen Titans. There was one character in it called Robin, who reminded me of Batman, which prompted me to look more into the origins of the character and show. I found out that this story is based on the comic books that are published by DC comics. The storyline follows a team of superheroes similar to Justice League, only the members of the team are comprised of teenagers. Although the story is focused on teenagers instead of adults, the characters are nearly the same, such as Super boy and Wonder Girl. It does seem as if comic characters are being reused to satisfy a different audience. Great post! I really enjoyed it.

    Olivia Hung

  3. nsbarzella says:

    You raise some interesting points in your blog post. I understand how some people may be upset if an author were to use a character from a story and reuse that character in their own work. However, when you look at most literature, ideas and certain character stereotypes often get recycled into a different types of story. This idea of recycling characters for new stories is kind of like having a remix to a song, people still appreciate the original song, but one can also like the remix for different reasons, and we see this as an example with Garfield minus Garfield. The Garfield minus Garfield blog in my opinion is actually quite funny but I think to truly appreciate it, you have to have the background context and know of the original comic. It is actually fascinating to see another author/artist transform a previously established character(s) and see their take.
    If you liked the Garfield minus Garfield comics you might want to look at these video clips:
    An Arbuckle Thanksgiving
    An Arbucle Christmas
    Natalia Sbarzella

  4. hannahcritchley says:

    I think you bring up some interesting points. This seems to happen within any piece of literature. Comics have been referred to as a lesser form of literature and yet it receives the same treatment that a popular novel might have. I’m referring to fanatics of novels who decide to write their own FanFiction, like the hunger games or twilight. Similarly, there are sites for comics alone:

    This site allows you to participate in writing your own stories with comic book characters. Fans can write their own versions on how the stories should pan out, or if they wish for an alternative ending to a comic. I completely agree with Olivia that characters are reused for different audiences or for audiences who wish to create different stories with these characters. Sometimes you need a different perspective which can help change the outlook of the original work! Really interesting topic to think about!

  5. jaygervais says:

    The iconic characters of comics have become preserved through their marketed images. Comic books are produced like a TV series, with reoccurring characters, themes, and a plot that will never end as long as there is money to be made from it. The visual aspect of comics allows artists to create an image for their characters, such as Batman, identifiable by his pointy-eared mask and cape, and because they are presented visually, the character has the potential of becoming a recognizable symbol. Once an icon like Batman is created and remains popular, it will continue to be recreated by the companies involved with its commodification. The original idea of Batman has evolved from comic books to movies, cartoons, TV shows, toys, video games, clothes, etc. you get the point. Although the image of Batman continues, it is not the same Batman we knew, or now know today, and in another generation he will evolve into something completely different. This transformation occurs through marketing. Batman is no more than an icon of business, recreating profit again and again by reusing an old image.

    Jay Gervais

  6. jcdegner says:

    I thought that you chose a really interesting topic to write about! When you talked about the fact that in the comics industry many authors re-use the characters created by someone else, it got me thinking about that idea in the world of classic literature. I know that I hate it when an author creates a certain character, and then someone else proceeds to steal their ideas and write their own story using another author’s characters. I am sure that many writers are also extremely frustrated by this. However, this issue does not seem to bother me in the comics world like it does in the world of classic literature. I think this is because certain characters, such as Batman, have been portrayed in so many different ways by various people, that we do not associate the character of Batman with one specific creator. This is in contrast to how we associate the character of Harry Potter with the author of J.K. Rowling. If someone else tried to write a story about him, there would most likely be a large protest, because Harry is in many ways considered to be the property of Rowling. In my mind, well-known superheroes are not seen as the ‘property’ of any one artist, because they have been portrayed by so many individuals over time.

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