Opening Up a Can of Worms

Does the recent (~2000-) explosion of non-animated movies and TV shows based off of graphic novels have a positive effect on the comic book industry because it is getting more people interested in superheros and graphic novels or does it have a negative effect on the industry because it only represents a more superficial look at superheros, may stray away from story lines and portrayals of characters from the original source, and takes away the value of “true” comic book fans and followers?

First looking at the positive side of movies based off of comic books such as The Avengers, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Scott Pilgram Vs. The World, Sin City, Fantastic Four, and the list goes on and on and on…, the popularity of these movies have turned many of their viewers onto the original comic books. Even lately Comic Cons have expanded from just containing fans of written comics, sci fi, and cartoon into much larger conventions that attract fans of video games, movies, TV shows, and have more elements of pop culture imbedded in them. It can’t be denied that the million dollar blockbusters have had at least some small part to play in this. So how could this be hurting anyone? More comic books are sold, fandoms are growing, and appreciation of the industry continues to expand. Well, let me tell you there is a group of people that this boom in popularity is hurting.

The “true fans”. The die-hard, read spiderman since you were four and can pick out all of the problems with the new movies kind of people. This is their territory and have been fans of comic books before the movies and have been possibly shunned for their interest. Now, walking into a bar there are a group of guys who just watched the new Green Lantern movie and are wearing some wide brimmed, sticker still on it, green and white hats. Could be a little insulting. Especially because their new found interest in comic books came from THE NEW GREEN LANTERN MOVIE. All of a sudden Comic Cons are filled with groups talking about how hot Kim Kardashian looked in a Wonder Woman costume. Maybe it’s not too hard to sympathize with this side after all.

So is it really worth the popularity and expansion of a fandom when at the same time the problems with mass culture will slowly be sneaking it’s way into an almost elite culture of comic book and graphic novel fans? In my own opinion I may be leaning towards the positive side, but this could really be turned into a much longer discussion with people who have more experience than I hold at the moment.

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2 Responses to Opening Up a Can of Worms

  1. joshmclac says:

    From a business perspective the shift is a lucrative one. You have to keep in mind that many of the superhero movies don’t necessarily require the viewer to know the history of the title character to enjoy it. Granted, the movies are hoping to snare the fans of the related comics and as such do include elements that reward those fanbases’ preexisting knowledge of the characters, but that knowledge isn’t required. For the die-hard fans that may feel dismissive in that a movie marketed to their interests isn’t actually that invested in playing to their perceptions of a fandom that they have invested a large amount of hours and money in. But to be fair to the scriptwriters of those movies, video is a medium with its own restrictions that require adaptation and compromise in the amount of time the movie runs and how much can be shown in that time.

    As an off-hand note, in Japan it is often the goal of a manga series to become licensed as an anime series, because that is where the real money can be made through video sales and merchandising. The anime may not be completely loyal to the manga, but there doesn’t seem to be the same backlash from fans as might occur in America. It would be interesting to explore the different mentalities between Japanese and American fanbases.

  2. nicktodd says:

    I like to call this the “Nickelback Principle”– that as soon as something becomes vastly popular its very own original fan base tends to turn on it. It existes everywhere, die hard fans of music or indie movies or comic books are dvestated when an average Joe begins to create fandom around chracters they have put no effort into getting to know. Everyone knows the feeling when their favorite peice of literature is turned into a movie, and just ruins it. Where does responsibility lie to kep things sared then?

    Feature FIlms and Happy Meals will always ruin works of art in the name of profit. The only thing stopping them is the artist. It is the artist, who signs away the rights to their creation that is responsible for the mutilation of thei once loyal fanbase. The true diehards, will choose prestige over dollar value, and will appreciate their original suport.

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