Tuesday, April 25, 2006

STERN kills comics

It´s that time of the year again. No, it´s not what you are thinking. I´m not talking about springtime or pre-Erlangen time ( the two / three months before Erlangen when you stop buying comics except the ones on your pull list). It´s that time of the year again when some " expert " proclaims the death of comics. This time it was the wellknown german magazine STERN with an article titled " Computer kills Comics " that butchered an Interview with german comiclegend Andreas C. Knigge and made it appear that Comics are lying in their death throes.

The best part of it was that the main argumentation of the article was that comics have now been replaced by......Mangas. Which are comics - just a different kind of. And of course the other reason for people not reading comics are video games. Whoever wrote the article obviously never read an issue of the RESIDENT EVIL comic or DEVIL MAY CRY or SONIC or STREET FIGHTER or any of the other comics based on computer games. What was also ridiculous was the statement that computer games are much more interactive then comics. More interactive than comics ? That´s just wrong. I mean what´s so interactive about computer games ? You plug it in. Okay. But that´s it. I don´t want to dis the PSP and other consoles because they have really fabulous graphics and I´m a huge fan of SILENT HILL ( although I had to stop playing for a few days to sleep without nightmares ) and TEKKEN ( Paul is the only one for me - all others just SUCK ) but it´s nor really THAT interactive. It´s more like watching a movie where you can choose at certain scenes. Aside from that you get pictures, sound, stories and all the other stuff without having to work that hard. In comics the real action isn´t even on the page. It happens in the place between panels : the gutter. The story unfolds directly in the brain of the reader without him....there is no story. That´s not the case with a playstation as anyone who had to take a dump and forgot to pause the game can attest.

So apart from the question how relevant the STERN really is and the fact that if you know a little about comics their article doesn´t make ANY sense ( I have my own title for the article : " STERN kills Brain " but that´s another thing ) it really doesn´t shock me as much to read that comics are dead. It really gets boring after the fourth or fifth time. I have been reading comics since the 70s and started really getting interested in collecting comics in 1984 - and guess what ? When I started a lot of people told me it was a waste of time because comics are dead. Five maybe ten years tops and that would be the end of it. Now it´s 22 ( in words : twentytwo !!! ) years later and it is still the same propaganda that´s going around. Comics are dead ! Nobody reads them ! Stop wasting your time.

Well, guess what ? Comics are not going to die anytime soon. They survived the tremendous drop in sales after the second world war, they survived the crash of the speculator boom in the 90s and they even didn´t die when Marvel had to declare bancruptcy and almost went out of business dragging the rest of the comic industry with it. Comics survived the Imaginasation of comics when stories became secondary and splashy art was the new hype and they survived the VERTIGO counterwave when stories climbed to new levels but art became secondary. They survived the internet that was sure to turn everything into a digitalisized and much better version and even the new Millenium which was supposed to be the end of all technology and comics would be used to fan the fires of this new post apocalyptic world. Comics survived the end of VALIANT, ACCLAIM and CROSSGEN. And they probably will be here long after you and me are gone from this world, my friend.

What´s so reassuring about people declaring the death of comics is that it´s nothing new. I´ve read a lot of Interviews and there is one common theme : comics are dying. When Will Eisner was starting in comics everybody thought that comics were just a momentary fad that would die out soon, when Neal Adams was starting with his comic career the were no new comic artists breaking into the industry because everybody knew that comics were dying and even Gene Colan was never sure how long he would be able to make comics....because comics were dying !

Now I ask you : If comics are dying....is that really such a bad thing ? Comics have been dying since their beginning ( like man who starts to die from the moment of his birth ) and they are doing it with the utmost grace producing such stellar work as MAUS, WATCHMEN or BLANKETS to name just a few. And is it not also true that many comic series have risen to unknown heights of quality while standing with one foot in the grave ? Writers and astist often have the most creative freedom and creative success when a title is two issues away from cancellation and the only editorial mandate is : do whatever you want it can´t get any worse. It was the case with Frank Miller on DAREDEVIL, it was the case when Alan Moore started on SWAMP THING and it happened with Denny O Neill and Neal Adams on GREEN ARROW / GREEN LANTERN.

It is a little strange for me to really believe that comics are dead. When I started collecting comics there were no trades for most of the series. Of the good series only one or two were translated to german and there were no comic speciality shops. Now there are truckloads of trade paperbacks, yes you can even buy whole series like SANDMANN, INVINCIBLE or PREACHER in the trade paperback form. There are a lot of comics translated to german and not only are there comic speciality shops you can buy comics in bookstores. And what about the internet ?

There are comicshops on the web, sites with reviews or previews or articles or even podcasts about comics. There are even webcomics and there is probably at least one website about any comiccharacter. There are a phletora of comicforums where hundreds and thousand of comicbook fans praise, curse or analyze comics. And let´s not forget the blogs about comics or comiccharacters like this one you´re reading right now. There are news on television about comics and there are more and more movie adaptions in the movie theatres. If comics are really dying they do it on a very high level. There was never a time where not only such a mass of quality titles are produced storywise and artwise but where there is also such a huge library of past series available in various forms. There are the hardcover archive editions, there are Marvel´s Essentials and DC´s Showcase editions. And in Spain and Italy there are the Bibliotheca Marvel editions and various reprint series ( two in Spain alone about Spider-Man ).

So take a heart my friend. Comics are dead. It can only get better.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN :

  • top ten posts

  • more posts of interest

  • No comments: