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Thinking outside the comic lines

vspaeth's picture

So at Plenary today I bought myself a hand-made Pikachu hat.  Pikachu got me thinking about Pokemon which led me to a pretty big realization.  I don't know where Pokemon originated.  There's the TV show, but before that their were the video games.  There was also the card game, and there are a number of comics that explore the same world.  However, without actually typing it into google I couldn't tell you which came first.

This got me thinking about a lot of American Comics.  Primarily superhero ones.  I love comics, but I never really read a lot of American ones; and yet I can tell you who Superman and Batman and Spiderman all are, and I could pick them out of a crowd.  If I've never read any of their comics, how come I know them all so well?

Part of the reason, I suppose, is that they are all iconic figures.  We've discussed how images in comics are iconic, and so I guess that's part of the reason that I can see the diamond with the S in it and know someone has a Superman shirt on .  Another side of it though is that many of these characters have left their comic boxes and jumped into other media.  Right now Hollywood is really big on making superhero movies: Thor, Iron Man, The Green Lantern.  Most of these characters have had their own cartoon TV show, or have appeared in shows like "The Justice League."  There are novel adaptions  of the adventures of these characters, and well...Spiderman the Musical, (which actually may be good, I honestly haven't given it a chance).

I believe this is part of the reason McCloud is really selling the idea that comics are their own genre.  They are so easily adapted into other forms that it makes it difficult for them to exist only as comics.  Part of me wants to argue with McCloud when he says that Comics haven't evolved in years, because look at all the ways they have been represented.  However, I realize that comics have not evolved into anything new; they have broken from their bordered boxes into other genres, other media forms.  I guess what I've realized is that if comics want to exist as their own form, or kind, they need to evolve into something unique and new.  Otherwise other genres will continue to feed off of their versatility.  I wonder though; is it this feeding that has been keeping comics from growing into their own, unique, genre?