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Tuesday, October 14, 2014 

Yes, comics can be better than movies, but contributors to comicdom aren't always treated better

The Herald of Scotland gave 10 reasons why comics are better than movies. Some of these reasons certainly do make sense, but there's also some naive ones given that don't. For example:
3. Comics are more experimental, vital and bold

Why do you think the film industry steals every decent idea that comic books have? The amount of films based on comic books has increased considerably over the last ten years or so. But ask yourself: how many can you think of that are anywhere near as good as the original in terms of artistry, boldness of vision, uniqueness, or even plain good story-telling? Only the American Splendour film comes to my mind.
I'm not sure this is so accurate. Once, you could say they were. I think a great example we could cite here is Mike Baron's Nexus, which was written as an anti-communist metaphor, and prior to that, we had Marvel and DC's own anti-commie metaphors. But today, how many mainstream publishers are willing to do that? Almost none, and some people in comicdom have even begun expressing sympathy and apologia for communism. Worse, we have mainstream companies going miles out of their way to pander for "diversity" advocates at the expense of talented storytelling, while gaining very few new converts to the medium. Some smaller publishers also suffer this new mentality.

And does filmdom really hijack the most decent ideas in the four color pages? If they won't attack communism today, then I don't see how they're burglarizing every decent idea ever seen in past comics.
4. Films don't care about their viewers, but comics do

This sounds strange, I will try to explain ... If you are watching a film on TV, you can go off to the other room to make a cup of tea and the film rudely carries on without you - as if you weren't there at all! A film is self-contained, it doesn't need you to let itself unfold. On the other hand, you can put down a comic book that you are reading, and go on holiday for a week. When you return, the comic is right there, exactly in the same place - patiently waiting on you to turn the next page. Comic books need the readers to make them come alive. Comics go at your pace, films just carry on regardless - whether you are paying attention or not. And a lot of the time when watching a film you are in such a zombie trance that your are not even paying that much attention.
This is a pretty silly argument in an age of video machines. Sure, the comics will be there, you can pick up from where you left off, just like with a simpler book, but if you have a VCR or DVD player, you can record the film and not have to worry about missing anything. Some of these movies are even downloadable from the internet. With today's technology, you can just press a pause control and not have to worry about missing anything while you're making a cup of tea.

And if the above were talking about the difference between moviemakers and comicmakers, it's long been clear mainstream publishers don't, and sometimes the people making comic book movies don't either, so much as they do care about - what else? - money.
10. Other people involved in the making of films get treated badly

By "other people" I mean the behind-the-scenes individuals such as production assistants, make-up, extras. The film industry is a bastion of class distinction, or you might say even apartheid. The main actors and "above the line" creative team are like Gods, who have their own little world that exists near to, but oh so far removed from, the grubby world of the "untouchables" who actually do much of the work of making the film. The world of these "untouchables" consists of standing in line in the rain for a meal of beans and hash brownies, waiting in dingy rooms for hours, long tedious work late into the night repeating the same scene over and over again. Of getting up even earlier than the main actors to make sure things are ready, of very little job security or health benefits, almost no recognition and certainly no glamour. Its a very unfair working environment and quite undemocratic. Perhaps this is inevitable within such a money orientated industry.

Again, by comparison comics don't have such a unfair working environment. Even with a well-known Japanese manga creator they often have only two assistants, who share a very similar working environment to their manga sensei, normally the same office. Still, to be fair, stories of mistreatment of assistants can be found in the comic industry. But the point is that it's not as bad or as common as in the film industry.
Now this one really misses the boat. Anyone who thinks comics people don't get treated badly is deluding themselves to no end. Just look at Chuck Dixon, or even Gerard Jones, who was fired by Kevin Dooley for the sake of making Green Lantern into his PC vision of what the title should've been. And if you want comic writers who're like pagan deities to some, take a look at Brian Bendis, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns. J. Michael Stracynski and Mark Millar, who all have their own silly little worlds existing right nearby. They get all the freedom they want while others like Dixon and Baron are incredibly marginalized, and no thanks given for all the hard work they did in the past. Make what you will of Frank Miller, he's also suffered the same treatment of recent. Even the late Dwayne McDuffie went through a similar experience after Dan DiDio fired him from writing JLA, and it made little difference that he too was mostly a leftist. Like I said, anyone who thinks comics people have it better is terribly naive.

Comics may have an easier time creating all the special effects you see in movies without having to resort to the same monetary budget movies risk spending. But they're still no different behind the scenes than moviedom is.

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I don't see any evidence that "comics are more experimental, vital, and bold." DC and Marvel keep recycling the same plots and ideas over and over. Line-wide crossovers, killing off characters and then bringing them back, or having heroes turn into villains. Maybe these gimmicks seem innovative to reviewers who don't know much about comics in general, or to younger fans who don't remember Crisis on Infinite Earths or Secret Wars. But, to anyone who has any knowledge of the medium for the past ten years, it's the same old sh*t.

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