Friday, September 03, 2010
Darwyn Cooke is Right About Comics
As someone who has been saying for years that the comic book industry needs to start focusing more on catering to children again, I am in complete agreement with everything that Darwyn Cooke says in this brief interview. Much as the Batman television series of the 1960s is blamed for ruining comics by making them campy, the Batman movie of 1989 along with The Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen comics from 1986 are responsible for turning superhero comics into completely unsuitable reading material for kids.
While it is nice that super hero comic books grew up with the readers who followed them from their Stan Lee infused rebirth in the late 1960s, it's a shame that they stopped being acceptable reading material for a new generation. After all the superhero comic book is really about adolescent power fantasies for the quiet, unathletic kids who never quite fit in, who behind a mask and secret identity were able to shine, defeat the big bullies of the world and earn the admiration of society, and more importantly, the pretty girl who they believe wouldn't give them the time of day in their non superhero persona. I could go on and on about all of the aspects that these power fantasies serve to fulfill in the imagination of children who grew up reading the adventures of Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woma, or the Hulk, but all you need to know is that right now, those needs are not really being served in comic books anyway.
You could argue that there is room for an adult oriented Batman comic book, but is there any reason why all of the other comic books can't be read by "all ages?" Is there any reason the Green Lantern can't entertain without filling it's pages with dismemberment and blatent sex? It's a comic book about a man who wears a magic ring which gives him powers for crying out loud. My feeling is that is a fifty year old man, seventy year old, or even thirty year old still wants to read Aquaman or Captain America, then to each their own, but it should not be at the expense of all the eight and nine year olds who could truly benefit from these comics. "All ages" does not have to mean "stupid" or "inferior." Both the Batman the Animated Series and Justice League animated series television shows proved this.
The other detrimental aspect of superhero comic books becoming all mature is that they've really lost that sense of awe and wonder that they used to have where anything could happen and it didn't necessarily have to comply with the laws of physics or continuity. Why do we need to concern ourselves with the realities of friction and caloric intake when it comes to a character like the Flash, when we don't wonder what exactly Superman is pushing away from when he flies, or how he hovers in the air, or why Spider-Man's gloves don't stick to his webs, or Cyclops can miss. Have you ever tried to look at something and missed? Not to sound like an old fuddy duddy, but I liked it better when the Flash could be turned into a living marionette. Stories like that really appeal to the eight year old in me, which I think is how it's meant to be.