Ravi Mohan's Blog

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Comics as Literature

"Comics" bring to mind Mickey Mouse, Archie, Superman and other "read and throw" reading. But there is no reason why the presence of pictures need to limit the range or quality of the story. Stretching one's mind, it is even possible to imagine truly excellent stories conceived and distributed in comic format.

"V for Vendetta" was originally released as a comic. The film's the director made it a "chick flick" with V falling in love with Evie (gag!! Anyone who had read the comic had their heads explode at this "romantic" development in the film). Constantine's lush and rich multi-realm occult backstory was dumbed down into a monochromatic Christian good vs evil fairytale in the movie. Both stories are the worser for conversion into film.

If you'd like to experiment with comics for adults, try Neil Gaman's Sandman series or Alan Moore's Watchmen. The latter was the only comic ever to win a Hugo award or be featured in Time magazine's list of 100 best English novels. It is a really good book. Even within the standard comic book framework, read "The Killing Joke" or "Arkham Asylum - Living Hell" for examples of what a creative team can do within the constraints of established backstory. The former explores the dynamic of the Joker/Batman animus (The sequel of Batman Begins is rumored to be based on this comic , at least as far the Joker's characterization goes) and the latter explores what happens when a rogue investment banker attempts a "not guilty by reason of insanity" plea to avoid jail and lands in Arkham Asylum. Batman is seen in about 3 panels in the book. The rest of the story is set almost completely inside the walls of Arkham and in spite of a slightly uneven "summon the Devil" subthread is a good read.

PS : the one series you want to avoid is Alan moore's Promethea. This is a story full of feminist nonsense splattered over a half baked understanding of the Jewish Tree of Life, and even some (equally halfbaked) Indian mysticism!

2 comments:

James said...

Namaste Ravi,
your review of the film "V for vendetta" has put me off watching it. Thanks for that.
No, really I mean THANKS. You have saved me from expensive dental work where I would have gnashed and ground my teeth to destuction in mental agony at the "repackaging" of the original story. No wonder the author wanted nothing to do with the film project.

engtech said...

Check out "The Walking Dead" sometime.