Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Comics Aren’t Just For Kids

In this here text you may find a rant about Comics aren’t just for kids. However, this is more about a conversation I’ve been holding in for years. The conversation you have when someone actually says to you “But comics are for kids!”

Last night, I was in the pub with a fellow comic reader and a lady from work. As the night was winding up my friend just had to ask me about Green Lantern: Rebirth #4. The lady in question sat with a puzzled expression as we chatted for a minute or two about Hal, Kyle, Ollie and Sinestro. She just had to ask what we were talking about, “Comics” we both replied. Her eyebrow raised and “Aren’t comics just for kids?”
Darren launched straight into “Some of the comics I get I let my kid flick through, but others I wouldn’t. Take the Punisher for instance…”
I announce I’m going to the toilet while he covers the Punisher, figuring hit her with an obvious one first. As I leave I just hear “He’s a marine who’s just got back from ‘Nam and he goes on a picnic with his family and they stumble on to a mob hit…”

So I siphon the python, get some more drinks in and wander back to the table. Not sure what Darren’s said but it looks like a god damn good start. Angie still looks a bit hesitant though. “Why not just tell the stories in books?”
“Why should you?” I ask
Angie starts saying how books are quicker and easier to show what’s happening. Personally I think she’d conceded that comics tell stories for adults, but is struggling with the fact adult stories are being told in what she sees as a child medium.
We hit back that think of comics as a film, the art as the actors. While a book tells the story by spelling everything for you out, in a comic the art helps tell the story. Someone is sad it shows on their face, someone is sad their body language shows it. The look on Angie’s face proves another score for the comic geeks.

Angie’s crawling for ground, she knows she has a point, tries to bring up Batman, he’d been mentioned during the GL: Rebirth conversation. The problem is some people still think of Batman as Adam West, “Holly Campness, Batman” and the death traps they always escape at the start of the next episode.
Now she’s just wandered right into my territory. Time for the big guns.

Batman is a true psychopath. As a child he watched his parents get gunned down in a robbery, vowed no one would ever suffer like that and dedicated his life to fighting crime dressed as a bat which causes fear in criminals.
Angie hits back with Robin.
“Do you remember Robin is Dick Grayson?” I get an affirmative smile and nod. “Well in the comics he’s grown up and nearly got married.”
“And became Nightwing,” Darren pipes up, somehow I miss this little fact out, don’t ask how I wonder myself.
“The second Robin had his brains smashed in with a crowbar by the Joker,” Angie’s face is dropping as I say this, Darren drops in “Then blown up” and I carry on, “Which brings us to the third Robin, Tim. Tim’s mother is killed and his dad crippled when he first became Robin. In the last year, his dad, his girlfriend and another girl he is very close too have all been killed.” Angie’s face dropped. “Not exactly for kids is it.”

“So I should be careful the next time I take my son into the newsagents,” Angie quite rightly asked.
“Not really, comics are more in specialist stores these days. However, if you are thinking of buying any comics for your kid make sure it’s the right line. In one comic you have the fun stories suitable for kids, another you have Spider-Man finding out his first love woman cheated on him with his greatest enemy and gave birth years ago. The first love who he accidentally killed.”
“Erm Ok… He killed his first love?” Angie asked a bit intrigued I think.
“Absolutely. In the film where Green Goblin drops Mary Jane off the bridge and Spidey saved her. That didn’t go so well in the comics. Gwen was thrown off the bridge but Spidey webbed her feet to stop her, only problem she’d hit terminal velocity and SNAP. He breaks her neck. She was dead anyway though.”

That’s when the conversation pretty much ended, it being closing time and all. While I don’t think we had a convert on our hands, I do believe Darren and myself managed to get somebody to at least respect the medium. Another victory for the good guys.