Sunday, November 12, 2006

Egads, People Still Don't Get Comics

I'd missed seeing this gem of journalism (sarcasm inserted here), but thanks to Mike, I now have another reason to wash out my eyes. Seriously, are we really still having the Comics: Good or Evil debate? That's so '60s.

Aside from the typos I spotted (memerable instead of memorable, for ex) that any spellchecker would've caught easily, I was appalled by the spotty knowledge the writer, Romona Lorelli, demonstrated. Let's look at a line from her introductory paragraphs:
"The comic book's first step up from book was to Television."
Uh, did the whole Superman serial movies from 1948 and 1950 escape her notice? Here's a lovely site (which is organized well, with a timeline on top) I found with a simple Google search of "Superman movies." It was the second result on the list. It's even called Superman Homepage and there's a whole page devoted to the Kirk Alyn serials.

As a side note, comics not only were adapted to other media, but even seemed to inspire them, as with the Green Hornet radio show that later became a tv show.

She follows the above quote immediately with this:
"Cartoon's [sic] made from Comic books became popular in the 1970's-1980's, such as X-Men, SpiderMan, and Batman. These cartoons were fun for all ages, and became classics instantly."
Somehow, she's managed to miss the '60s completely, with the live action Superman and Batman series so loved by the Boomer generation of which I'm a proud member.

Which brings up a discussion of how controversial comics and their adaptations were back in the '50s and '60s, back when there were too violent and supposed to rot our brains, along with everything else on tv back then. And the creation in 1954 of the Comic Code Authority, the way the publishers self-rated themselves before the government did it for them. And to not include, and possibly not know about, Dr. Fredric Wertham and his Seduction of the Innocent while discussing the merits of comics and giving their history in society and culture is a serious blunder.
"The next step came when D.C. took the leap, and made one of it's [sic] most popular characters into a movie on the silver screen. Superman was only a pioneer in this case, eventually having four movies to his name, and a wealth of fans. "
Well, Superman was a pioneer, but she's off by a couple of decades. And what does she mean by "only a pioneer," as if it's [note my correct use of an apostrophe with it is, a contraction, not a possessive] a bad thing?

To continue my fair use quoting of the article I'm reviewing, here's another clip:
"The next question is though, is it for you?"
That would be YES.

"Comic books have their place, for a certainty. They are easy reading, and fun reading. The characters and plots are memerable [sic], and the illustrations are unforgettable."

Not true for all of them. Some are far too forgettable. And now, they're not all easy reading. A lot depends on one's reading level. Because, as Mike pointed out and as is clearly obvious in the article, she doesn't get that there are comics for kids and comics for adults.

"How much though, is too far?"

Well, now, for whom? Me, nothing is too far? For a kid, depends. If I had kids, and they were like me, nothing would be too far unless they decided it wasn't for them. Once they were old enough to decide. Me? I was about 9 when my parents let me read anything I wanted. When I was 11, I wanted to read the James Bond paperbacks in the bookcase in my parents' bedroom. My mother said she'd have to pick them. I figured she'd give me the tame ones. She gave me the best first: From Russia With Love and Dr. No. I read all the rest soon thereafter. That's when I knew I was trusted to make my own reading choices. The comics I read were determined by me, how I best could spend my allowance, which had to be spread over comics, candy, small toys, and 16 Magazine.

"In some comics, the violence and blatant sexual advances rival that of infamous video games like Grand Theft Auto and the Resident Evil series. Some persue [sic] practices or customs that are tied to the occult, whereas others dabble in matters of society, like homosexuality, and drug abuse."

Because, clearly, we all know how "evil" those parts of life are. Sheesh. Where's that spork?

I can freely admit that I didn't think love was the way it was depicted in the romance comics when I was a kid, nor was I freaked out by the Classics Illustrated issues adapting the EA Poe stories I first read in short story collections. Yes, I was reading Poe when I was 8, 9, 10, and older.

"True, not all comic books are bad, and some are quite benefitial [sic], but constant vigilance is necessary to keep your kids from being expossed [sic] to these things"

*sigh* No mention is made of age and maturity of kids here. Each kid is an individual and parents should be able to tell what their kids can handle. A kid of 6, however, is not the same as one who's 12.

And the idea that protecting kids is required is not helping them. It leads them to think life is perfect and so many of them can't cope with reality when they're on their own. And the only actual benefit I can see from reading comics is that it's reading, which is a step up from letting kids sit mindlessly in front of a tv.

The only point I do agree with in the article is that parents should talk to kids about what they read or watch. But forget that constant vigilance crap. Kids are quite good at ferreting out the forbidden fruit (we sure did, but in the '60s, the best we could find were the anatomy books in the library) or they become guilt-ridden for enjoying themselves.

And finally:

"Another common problem is this: Kids don't recognize the amount of imagination [make believe] in comics. Some become so involved with the ideas that they forget that crime fighting is a job for the police, and that death is permanent.
Why not talk to your kids about it? Making sure they understand that imitating what they see in comic books is not a good idea is the first step in keeping it 'good, honest fun.'"
She follows this with some nonsense about comics being good, family fun. While some are meant for families, others are not. Same as for movies, books, tv, etc. Even the adult stuff isn't always fun. It can be educational, entertaining, informative, thought-provoking, or any combination thereof.

So, unlike Mike, I used the article as an excuse for a long rant. I can't help myself. Really. Must've been the influence of all those comics I read as a kid. heh


  1. ... and people call me a "pendant"?!? this woman sounds like she is not only derivative in thought but completely clueless as to what reality is. The least she could have done was some marginal research into her subject.

    now I have to go put drops in my eyes and hope to wash out her quotes.

  2. Yes, I read that article as well. My guess is that the author knew vaguely OF comics, but certainly didn't intend to actually READ any, or bother to do any proper research. Why bother with that, when you can bang out a fast, easy and misspelled article, for an editor who doesn't know anymore about the subject than the author?


    I'm a mom, and I encourage my kid to read comics. I'm not letting them have my Preachers, but both my daughters love Sandman and are old enough to get it.

  3. lol. I know how you feel. It hurt just to quote her.

    And yeah, it's not like the info isn't readily available with a simple Google search.

  4. While I don't mind someone attempting to "pitch" comics to people, including kids, I do agree that the information should, at the very least, be accurate. Unfortunately hers was not.