Saturday, July 19, 2008

Comics, comics, everywhere...

with esteem and respect to Bruce Eric Kaplan

I have cited this cartoon before, because I think it sums up the mainstreaming of comics that we seem to have been experiencing over the past few years. We can parse out the details, but there's no denying that folks are talking about comics out in the open, without apology, with more frequency than ever before. This situation was driven home to me over the past few days.

First off, I got a phone message from a pal telling me that a local AM talkradio host was going to be interviewing Neal Adams. I tuned in and for a solid hour Adams talked about the reinvention of Batman in the sixties after the television show and other topics that wouldn't have been out of place on any comics blog. Check it out: July 15, 2:00pm.

I grant that that interview might have been sold because of the Dark Knight movie, and that the situation in general has been helped by so many comic book adaptations or comics-inspired films being released this summer, but c'mon: who would have imagined that a regular essayist on NPR would contribute a piece examining in detail the DC fan/Marvel fan divide, under any circumstances? Yet this is what I heard the very next day on Morning Edition, in a piece by John Ridley.

The next day, Steve Scher, the host of Weekday, a local program on the Seattle NPR affiliate, devoted a whole hour of his show to comic books, speaking with Mike Mignola and Douglas Wolk, among others. I guess this shouldn't have surprised me so much, since Scher spent a whole hour interviewing David Hajdu a few months ago, when Ten-Cent Plague came out, and constantly surprised the author with his depth of understanding of the subject.

Out of curiosity, I did a search on the NPR site tonight, and found that this afternoon I missed an All Things Considered report on international comics and that a few days ago Day to Day used the Batman movie opening as a springboard to do a fairly thorough examination of the evolution of The Joker over the years. That's all in addition to pieces on Dark Knight itself.

To top it off, I stopped by the library this week to talk to another pal, and she gave me a copy of the SPL annual report: they got Ellen Forney to produce it in "graphic novel" format, which is to say it uses some specific elements and the general aesthetic of comics to present the material. Here's the cover and a sample page:


So, while I don't think that we'll be seeing folks on the beach reading comics a regularly as paperbacks, or that graphic novels will replace newspapers as the commuter's reading material of choice, it seems pretty clear that the door to the general culture is opening wider and a little bit of light is being shed onto the shadowy world of comics geekdom.

2 comments:

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