Good day and salutations gentlemen! Today we shall be discussing an art form that has received new appreciation in recent years. An art form, that is a great fusion of story telling and design. An art form, once thought to be reserved for children. Ranging from the professionally produced graphic novels, to the free comic book at your local shop, today we recognize the modern fable. Please, bear with me as I attempt to wax philosophical.
As mentioned above, Comics have and still suffer from a stigma. One that relegates them to the realm of children, or individuals lacking in a certain level of maturity of personality and thought. It’s an easy assumption to make after all. Animation is generally reserved for the realm of children, so why not the comic book? Need I remind you of the brilliant movies Up, Wall-E, or The Nightmare Before Christmas? All of these films are animated, in a sense, and would at first glance seem devised for children. Yet they carry larger narratives within themselves. The idea of love, and a child’s’ heart for adventure. What it is we’ve done to this world, and what our rampant consumerism might lead to. The idea of identity, and coming to accept yourself as you are and not as some fantasy might dictate. All of these are stories that we, as adults, can relate to. So why not comics?
Comics are Growing Up
While the historical nature of comic books has been the appeal to children, their present incarnation couldn’t be any more different. Comic readers have grown up, matured, and like wise so has their hobby. Dealing with issues ranging from death, fate, determinism, and more, comics have come into their own place on the bookshelf. They represent a complex array of ideas packaged in a form that is less intimidating than a paperback of Kierkegard or Kant. Batman, and his friends, have evolved from simple caped “Do-Gooder’s” into a stories about men exploring the very basic ideas of Justice. Superman has changed (and hopefully the film franchise with it) from a story about a veritable God living amongst men, to a comparative narrative. One that explores the idea of power in its absolute form, and what someone owes to their community and to themselves when they find themselves empowered.
So what does that make of comics today? Well I’d go as far as to call them the new modern fairy tale. They exist in a simple medium. One that can be copied, interpolated, and retold. They explore to basic content of the human condition. What does it mean to love. To hate. To have power, and to rule. They speak to use on our most basic level of understanding. A seven year old takes away a lesson of responsibility, a 30 year old takes away a lesson of power.
The comic is, in my estimation, the most underestimated form of storytelling today. Yet, it cannot be ignored for long. It does too well, and too perfectly what we have yet to accomplish with movies, and have already accomplished with novels. It reaches that broad range of humanity that publishers seek, and yet fails to grasp them as the old guard tries the “tried and true” methods of media. Luckily for us they are fading away, as evidenced by the resurgence of comic book story lines in film. The only thing lacking in this deliverance is the targeting. Whether you’re making a Star Trek flick or attempting to sell tickets to a Thor film, the greater the audience, the greater the success. In comics however, authors and the rest can feel free to take a chance. They can feel free to explore. That’s the space where the creativity lies.
So I challenge each of you Unfinished Men, and even you Unfinished Ladies, to take a dive into the realm of comics. To explore the fairy tales of today, and to try and find the unfinished line of thought you never knew was there.