Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Some Comic Book Stuff

John Hamm as Luthor!

It helps to have seen Superman I, Superman Returns and Superman IV...

I think I heard Jamie say "I want to go to there..."

So What Comics Should I read after Watchmen?

The answer is: I have no idea. Watchmen is sort of an island unto itself. But DC is here to help.

If you're DC Comics and you have an idea of what you think you could sell people, you launch a site on the topic.

Its a nifty site, and it mentions many of my personal favorites, from We3 to Preacher to All Star Superman.

What strikes me is that Marvel, while a terrific publisher, has not really operated in the same marketplace. "Alias" (no relation to the Jennifer Garner show) was the most DC/ Vertigo-esque of the Marvel titles. They have no Preacher, Swamp Thing or even All Star Superman. And really have no wing to publish something like We3.


But they used to. In the 80's, Marvel used a wing called "Epic" to publish mature reader and creator owned work, including the superlative "Elektra: Assassin", and "Alien Legion" (which never, ever should have died). And, I think, maybe, the Shadowline of books, which was just tragically ahead of its time. Doctor Zero was a little bit of brilliance.

Creators now tend to take those books to Oni or Image these days, I'd guess.

Bam! Pow! Watchmen not for Kids!

Moore and Gibbons' Doomsday clock may be ticking down in a way WB wasn't expecting.

After the weekend crush of fanboys had bought up all the tickets, the usual superhero audience has trickled into the theaters, typically unaware of the ratings or reviews on the movie they've paid $10 a head to see.

This Chicago Tribune article decribes one theater where 1/4 of the audience walked out.

Let me run that by you again: One quarter of the audience WALKED OUT.

The truth is, I am not surprised. At some point, translating a massive tome, that plays with narrative structure as much as Watchmen does, with as many characters, scattered all over the timeline from the 1930's to the 1950's, is bound to create some problems for Joe Audience who wants to see that Blue Dude kicking a bad guy in his junk. He does not want to see the Blue Dude waxing rhapsodic about the nature of time while butt-naked on the moon.

Further: no matter what WB was going to do, people were going to show up with their kids, as most people see a cape and a mask and nifty Owlship, and assume a movie is for the kiddos. Perhaps not wrongly.

Yes, you kind of have to wonder how someone missed all the press on the movie and still showed up, or that theater employees aren't being warned not to sell tickets to children... but its also not an NC-17 movie. (which also raises the question: Still haven't seen Watchmen, but what's with all this I hear about gore and exploding bodies? Snyder just couldn't help himself, apparently.)

PREDICTION: The same thing comics went through in the 80's and 90's is about to happen to superhero movies. Studios will learn all kinds of wrong lessons from Watchmen and its adult content. Brace yourselves. It gets pretty stupid before it gets better.


Steven said...

Much blue johnson.

NTT said...

Marvel has Icon, which it uses to publish Powers and other "Vertigo"-esque stuff such as Incognito.

Anonymous said...

Epic also did "Elf Quest."

The League said...

NTT is right. Marvel does have Icon. Although I am unsure of the status of Powers these days. I lost track around trade #9. I am unfamiliar with "Incognito", but I think maybe they publish/ed "Criminal"? Odd they didn't just revive Epic.

Epic re-printed Elf Quest, but the series, which I was very fond of circa 1985, I think was originally printed by Warp Graphics. DC had the franchise for about a year, did nothing at all with it, and lost the franchise. I think its with Dark Horse or Image at this time, although I can't speak to the status of new or reprinted material.

I am sure this is all on Wikipedia.

NTT said...

Icon hasn't published much although it was marketed as a way for creators to do creative-owned works with the advantage of the marketing and distribution muscle of Marvel behind it. Basically, Icon was set up as a counter to Image's marketing model and to provide an alternative for creators to publish and rev-share. Unfortunately, Icon really so far functions more like a vanity press as the only people they seem to be publishing are Marvel in-house creators like Bendis and Brubaker for their more esoteric works. It's not nearly as expansive or ambitious publishing wise as Vertigo. Even then, it didn't stop Kirkman from jumping to Image.

Simon MacDonald said...

Alien Legion was amazing. I wish they still published the adventures of Sarigar and Jugger Grimrod. I loved the issue in Alien Legion Vol 2 where Jugger got abandoned and had to take on an entire Harkonnen base by himself. Sigh...

Anyway, I blame WB for not marketing Watchmen properly. Plus there is a wack of merchandise targeted at kids. Dr. Manhattan lunch boxes and Rorschach Halloween costumes. Why did that seem like a good idea WB?

The League said...

Checker reprinted Alien Legion about five years ago. I picked all the trades up, and the series holds up amazingly well. And, yeah, the "stranded Jugger" issue was a standout issue in a standout series.

I think its likely for the Watchmen stuff to fall into kids' hands, but I'm not really sure it was intended for kids. Unfortunately, so much of the population is unaware of fan collectibles like lunchboxes, action figures, etc..., its all too easy to see a kid showing up for school with Rorschach on a lunchbox.

I did write a column on the phenomenon, and I plan to follow up after seeing the movie this weekend as I've read my first "holy smokes, why would they make a kids movie like this?" review last night (actually, it was far harsher and demonstrated a complete lack of "getting it". I thought it was a joke when I read it the first time, but it let me know what's going on out there.

NTT said...

Alien Legion was awesome. Unfortunately I sold my issues to raise money for a CD player/boombox way back when. They were worth a good amount.

Epic had some great titles and with some amazing runs. Notably, Moonshadow, Elecktra Assassin, Marshal Law and Dreadstar. That was the golden age. It's unfortunate that the backlist can't really be organized and republished as each was creator owned with the rights I'm sure needing to be re-negotiated. This doesn't bother me much as the creators should have final say on their content's distribution.

The League said...

Check Amazon for those Alien Legion collections. They're probably still around if you have the spare dough.

The Epic stuff has seen some reprinting. I never heard of Moonshadow until Vertigo reprinted it when I was in college,a nd I think its still in print. Elektra recently got an amazing hardcover treatment. Marshall Law (sp?) is supposed to be collected soon, and I am PSYCHED. I didn't pick it up as a kid because it had no Alien Legion, X-Men or Batman in it. And I've regretted it ever since.

Archie Goodwin knew what he was doing when he got Epic going inside Marvel. Both Marvel and DC need that verve back in their comics. As much as I love my Superman comics, I love a good risk-taker, even if it doesn't quite work (probably why I like RIP).

J.S. said...

Alien Legion WAS cool. I'd forgotten about it. I'm kind of surprised that it hasn't gotten more attention (i.e., been relaunched or whatever).

J.S. said...

Also I think Much Blue Johnson might be a good name for a band, or at least an album.

Fantomenos said...

Y'know, I had the same thought when I saw the "Watchmen" preview before seeing the Dark Knight that the movies have caught up to the mid-80's. And you're right, it's going to be a while till we get "Sandman", or Ennis-flavored "Hellblazer". Still, I think an "American Flagg" movie could work, or maybe even Morrisonesque "Doom Patrol"

Oh, and I didn't notice any walkouts on my viewing of "Watchmen", but we were towards the front, and I did hear someone grumble about "Inappropriate crap" on the way out. Snyder definitely upped the gore ante, particularly egregious was the alleyway fight...