“Why don’t you read a real book?”
How many have heard that phrase or variations of it? How many have received even the slightest bit of condescending remarks from friends or family just because you read or collect comics?
I mean, comics clearly are not part of the worlds forté unless it’s in movie form for the most part. For example, this Hallowe’en, I dressed up as the Red Skull. I thought it was awesome, because, well I am awesome. I approached a guy at a bar dressed up as Captain America and started talking to him about his costume. After a few minutes, it came down to me blatantly asking him if he knew who I was (in costume form, of course). When I told him, he started at me blankly with a “who?” D’oh! The Captain America movie isn’t out until later this year!
Another friend of mine that night went as the Black Cat. She approached a couple dressed up as Spider-Man and Spider-Girl. Talking to them both, she discovered they had no idea who the Black Cat was. D’oh! Felicia Hardy wasn’t in the movies, so how could they know who she was?
But wait a tick! Why is it okay that they dress up as Superheroes and not know anything about them? Surely the one guy didn’t dress up as Captain America because he saw the not-yet-released movie. And I doubt he was inspired to dress up as Cap after seeing the 1990 movie.
I don’t know how many times I’ve been snickered at, or received odd looks from people after I told them I read comic books. Going to university for an English and Professional Writing degree should mean that I read real books, not funny books after-all. Well, I mean, that’s probably what I should be stereotyped as. But I will mention (and plug) that my friend Kyle over at Panel Flow was the only other person I knew in my course who read comics.
However, even pre-dating university, when in elementary school, I grew up around comics and Star Wars. Of course, my peers all thought I was a bit of a nerd, given those were the only things I read on a regular basis.
Yet, when I look back on this past decade, liking superheroes seems to be the cool thing to do – regardless if you actually know anything about them. I even knew people who pretended to be really interested in comic books. They would have a favourite character, favourite book series, favourite super power, and so-on. However, when you would want to talk to the people about your apparent common interests, they would be put on the spot and try to avoid or change the topic. Why would they even bother?
Don’t Believe the Movie Hype!
What I am really just building up to is that comic books seem to be accepted now, unless you read them. It sounds rather ridiculous, but if you really think hard – comic sales for a movie like Iron Man, sell around 50-60k a month. However, the box-office for an individual Iron Man movie easily excels $500 million. If they aren’t buying the comic books, then what drives them to the movies? How do they know about Iron Man? Comic sales have not drastically increased, despite a second Iron Man movie making over $600 million – so what gives?
How are comic movies accepted – but comic books are not? Is there not an irony to this?
This whole idea of mine spawned from reading a except of Stan’s Soapbox in Marvel comics during December of 1968:
“The next time anyone puts you down for reading a comic mag, try hitting him with this little soliloquy which I’ve used on various radio and TV guest appearances in the past few months:
Comic books are a medium of communication – just as television and motion pictures are. All three employ words and pictures, and all must be judged on their individual merits. A story is a story, whether presented between two covers or on a screen. If the words have dramatic impact, if the pictures are visually appealing, if the theme is emotionally relevant, then certainly it is worthy of a reader’s attention. However, if the quality is lacking, then it rates little consideration. Isn’t this equally true of a TV program, a Broadway show, a motion picture, or any other form of entertainment? All we at Marvel ask is that our product be judged on the basis of quality – a quality which we sincerely believe is equal to that found in any other comparable media.
Marvel Comics today are produced by the finest creative talent available. Read them first. . . and then decide.
Although Stan speaks about Marvel, it can easily be argued for any other company. But why are comic books still not considered cool? Why don’t more people read them, and why is there still a stigma attached to them?
I know adults who have seen movies Batman or Iron Man, yet joke to an individual about reading comic books. Are they not the same thing? Do comics in popular culture stop with movies and become stigmatized when they go into paper form?
I don’t know!
It’s a lot to take in. I would LOVE to hear what you guys have to say about this.
Until then, keep on Space Truckin’!