It's occurred to me that there's been a little more comic book talk here in the past couple of months.
I suppose there are a lot reasons for that. The big one is obviously Dad; talking about him as much as I have since his death, it was really inevitable that the one thing we had most in common would come it. It was our thing, or meeting place, our middle ground, and we spent so much time with them, and so much of what I like about superhero comics is wrapped up in my relationship with my dad, that I would be hard pressed to say what I came to enjoy on my own, and what was entirely his influence, and the influence of reading with him. I doubt I'll ever talk or think about one without the other soon joining it, and I'm okay with that. Actually, a little proud.
But there are other reasons, of course. "Blackest Night" springs to mind, which has just been an absolute joy to read, and on the flip side but just as wonderful has been"The Boys." These two series are really the polar opposite of each other in content and execution, but both are so much fun, so absolutely why I haven't given up on mainstream comics amidst the dearth of ideas, that it's hard not to read them and get excited about the genre again. And "Ex Machina" finishes up in just another month or so, a book I've been following since college [I think Heke actually started me at Issue #1], and just can't imagine no longer having on my pull list, if only for how unconventional and original it's always been. I'll miss it -- but I also wonder what sort of project will eventually take it's place in the quirky sleeper category.
And then there was the whole Marvel/Disney thing... which I committed so much time and ink to, and which was so exciting in such a scary way. And still is, really, though the acceptance has already ruined some of the shine, and how militantly outraged people got about it even being brought up after the second day [in the negative, or the positive] has made it far less enjoyable to discuss. The point is, comics feel worth mentioning again. And I've been obliging that.
And why not? While I don't know if this will ever be a "comic book blog" [maybe if one day I get a job in comics], I still enjoying talking about them, yes even those of the non-indie, cape-wearing variety. Which is why even though I should probably be using my little bursts of inspiration in what has otherwise been a dry couple of weeks for my writing to do something...oh, productive, I've been spending a lot of time scribbling out comic book ideas that might never actually see the light of day.
Because let's face it, I grew up with all this stuff, and I still haven't given up on it, and unless I end up destitute it's not likely to happen anytime soon. So yes, my mind tends to spend some time every day on what would be a good idea for a Superman villain [a daunting proposition -- how do you kill the man who can do anything?], or doing up a treatment for a post-apocalyptic Batman, or how to make it less obvious that my Blue Lantern comic isn't a direct rip-off of the things I like most about Dr. Who. And yes, some time should be spent on the classics, but other times it's okay to go through back issues a re-read "Onslaught" [can you believe the beginning of that was the first time Gambit and Bishop fought the Juggernaut?] or give "Spider-Man: Reign" a chance [which you definitely should do -- it's far better than I ever thought it could be]. And not that I think that trying to be a writer somehow gives my idea for the perfect X-Men team any more weight than someone posting fan fiction to Live Journal but... doesn't it?
Maybe that'll depend on whether or not I could ever get paid for it. But I do think about these things, draw up outlines like I would for movie or comic book scripts, and sometimes spend whole mornings [this morning] trying to pull together thematic elements and make a beginning, middle, and end that's not too cheesy, sometimes for relatively cheesy characters. This is the writing I do that I don't cover here, the stuff that gets lumped in when I joke about "logging conceptual hours" or talk about not being productive. Sometimes when I'm dealing with writer's block, I'll try to "revamp" an obscure character, or test myself and see if I'm funny enough to come up with Deadpool dialogue [I'm really not]. It can be helpful. A lot of it gets deleted, or tucked away, while I wonder why I'm not spending more time trying to get back to work on "Trendsetter."
Still, it's difficult for me to not play with these things, and when I do I worry that I'm wasting time. These days it's easier to get into movies than into comics [the former is practically a prerequisite for the latter now], and with those odds my effort might be better spent on my own ideas. On one level, I worry I'm too self-hating, on another, I see a lot of arguments against dabbling with mainstream properties with any sort of seriousness. Alan Moore, a man who's opinion on the subject I hold very dear, has made some find points about the deficiencies of superhero comics, particularly how so many seem to just be "boys' adventure stories" about "an unfair fight" -- either a bully revenge tale, or a might-makes-right sense of morality. Which are excellent points, and ones I'm constantly weighing as I'm trying to map out some comic book fantasy on the back of one of my notepads. And it's discouraging.
I also don't know that it's an absolute truth. "All-Star Superman" was wonderful, and the title character [that would be Superman, as there is no "All-Star"] rarely ever threw a punch. And as with most of Grant Morrison's work, there was also something fun, and like the Golden Age in this story, so it didn't pander, but it didn't reach. It was moving, and enjoyable, and I have to pause here and thank John for getting it for me.
And comics have managed to move me -- which either means I'm very shallow, or perhaps it's not all boys' adventure stories after all. So I struggle with this a lot, the question as to whether I should even bother trying to grow crops in already over-farmed pastures of the Big Two, or if my effort is better served in other places, with other kinds of stories. I want to believe that I can do both, of course, that I can have my SULKs and my Real Quality Comics, and also do something with what's already there in the mainstream, which I basically cut my teeth on when I found comics, and find my own satisfaction with it [I wonder if I'd even torture myself over this if I actually had the job]. Find that there is something worth pursuing with them, or at the very least, fun to play with, so I don't have to feel so awful if I put the next great American novel [hah, right] on hold, and try to figure out how I'd tell a story that gets Spider-Man sent to a parallel dimension where he has unlimited resources, and fights crime with his daughter out of a secret base called "The Web-Site." Which yes, sounds awful but I think I could make it work.
I'd like to try, anyway.
P.S. Since we're on the topic, I'd also like to plug the webcomic of a new friend of mine. Please go check out "Pictures of Crying Children," written by Ian Borgstrom, and illustrated by CheriAnn Stevens. I found their site through Autumn Society, and just really enjoy their comic, and would like to get them some more attention, if at all possible. It's great stuff.