Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Life Cycle of Superhero Storytelling

So are you a comic book reader? Marvel or DC? Evan Puschak explains why we tend to cleave to one or the other, for several reasons that make sense. Like Puschak, I started reading DC comics because of a Superman TV show, but in my case it was Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves, which I only saw in reruns. Comic books were 15 cents each, and I had to carefully budget my allowance to buy one. The rivalry between the two major comic producers is the same today, although the prices have gone up.

Puschak explains how comic publisher go through cycles of storytelling with their superhero characters. Every once in a while, the cycle has escalated to a point where it has to stop and start over again, but that's fine because over the years another generation becomes old enough to read and enjoy comics. It's happened for around a hundred years. But does the cycle of a comic book superhero story translate to movies and TV? The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dozen of movies, and they follow the same sort of cycle seen in publishing. DC appears to be doing that, too, although with fewer films. Only time will tell if they know when it's time to slow down, take a break, and start over again. (via Kottke)


Anonymous said...

I think the thing you are missing is that you have become the product. You are the end user. You are the source of income for the corporations producing the comics. Sure, we all enjoy a certain amount of escapism. I’m 74 and was a great fan of Batman and Superman, and lots of other icons of a long lost era of comics. At that time, they told a story, a complete story, not one continued in the next issue. You read them, you enjoyed them, and you breathlessly awaited the next issue. Then came the series. One story carried over to multiple issues. Now we have interactivity among characters. One series becomes many. You can’t read just one or not even one series. Now, it’s total commitment to one brand and all it entails. You are being farmed. Reject the hype. Go to the library and find a novel. Read the written word and let your own imagination create the pictures. Reject the spoon-feed work of what are now corporate entities and start thinking for yourself. Comics were once something produced by small groups of creative people to make some money. Now they are the products of corporations that have brainstorming sessions of executives trying to figure out how to get you to spend more money. I won’t even get into licensing and branding. Go to your library and ask at the desk about what they might recommend for a newly reformed comic reader to borrow. They’ve read them too and will be more than happy to guide you. A book is just a movie that happens really slowly and you have to supply the pictures.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I'm a Marvel gal myself. This video hits the nail right on the head, especially about the current crop of MCU movies. The current crop has hit the "homework, not entertainment" phase.