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Thursday, November 09, 2006 

Comics don't have to be depressing and downbeat

Raymond Tyler, a freelancer writing for the Atlantic City Weekly, makes a good argument in this week's issue about what today's comics don't have to be:
As a child growing up before the Video Game Age, comic books were a welcome distraction and fuse to spark my imagination. comic books helped me increase my vocabulary and fueled my love for writing and art through exploration of the worlds created for Spiderman, The Hulk, The Avengers and The X-Men.

I love that. Today, the comic series Justice League Unlimited gives kids and parents a book that they can read and enjoy together. Many of the books I grew up with, however, have become morbid, depressing and just a little too real for kids.

The extreme story lines used to involve villains with plans to rule the world. Occasionally writers would throw in a “say no to drugs” story line, or a story about a war vet getting mistreated by the government after a war. After the “special issue,” however, it was back to villains with time machines, weather machines, and 50-foot robots. Now the extreme end of the comic stories are about double undercover conspiracies and “heroes” that drink until they stagger or beat their wives.

Also, in many of today's comics, stories that could be told in one issue are watered down with dialogue and sub-plots to expand to at least three issues because the publishers want to sell the story line in graphic novel form.

The kids are the biggest losers here. But maybe the world is harsher and the Avengers need a civil war to keep kids interested.

While I enjoy provocative story lines, I don't believe that a book has to be depressing or have a three-figure body count to be thought provoking. And for the kids today - and the kid I was and still am - I'd like my Superman to be a little more “super” than he is simply a man.
Well said. Even for adults, comic books do not have to be depressing and downbeat, or filled with darkness and violence in order to be entertaining. Nor do they have to be laden with negative attitudes towards heroism, and they don't need to waste their time on transparent self-commentaries either.

I think this is good enough an argument for why it's time to start moving away from a lot of the overly depressing directions which comics have taken of late. And it's also a good argument for why the time has come to cut out the padding for sake of trade paperbacks, mainly because it'll always be possible to publish them in trades after awhile anyway.

Open trackbacks: Customer Servant, Diane's Stuff, The Mudville Gazette, Point Five, Stop the ACLU, Third World County.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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