Scary Bird

Scary Bird
Bird at Castle Howard - photo by Jeremy Fiest

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hollywood vs Comics


While I didn't attend the San Diego Comic Convention this year, the one thing stuck out to me more than anything else was that the focus was not on comics; the focus was on movies. Yeah, sure, the majority of the movies presented were those that had originally derived from comic books, but what does this say about the future of the comics industry? Will Hollywood simply have its way with the comic book medium for a few years and then toss her aside like a $10 Taiwanese whore, or will this inspire a larger, more diverse audience for comic books someday?

The answer to that question is impossible to guess, but if it were a bet, I'd go with the former.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love movies. I've spent more of my life working towards a career in film than a career in comics, that's for sure, but that is why I greatly appreciate both. The problem is, Hollywood is not film; film is an art form and Hollywood just happens to hold the monopoly on that art form. There have been thousands upon thousands of films made that came no where near Hollywood's greedy little (or shall I say massive) hands. However, because Hollywood is such a superpower, many filmmakers are more than willing to sell their souls to see their films made. Are comic book creators following suit?

Of course.

It's pretty clear that the hope of having your comic turned into a film  has become the primary goal for a great many comic book creators today, and it's not because it's what's best for comics, it's because they see movies as something bigger and better for their story. Why, because there's more money involved? Sure.  And can you blame them? Not really. Would I sell my comic book property to Hollywood for a handful of cash? You bet your ass I would.

But I firmly believe that comic books are, on their own, a wonderful art form, and I want other people to see this, too. Unfortunately, that's never going to happen if the fan base is built in the shadow of the great colossus that is all "lights, camera, action!" Comic books are not storyboards, damn it. Comic books are stories told with the combination of text and still images; it's an extremely power medium when given the opportunity. In my opinion, comic books should be just as respected as novels or movies because they are capable do doing things the latter two mediums could never hope to achieve.

If you're the cynical jerk shaking your head right now, please, leave.

Thank you.

Now, where was I...

Anyway, this isn't a call to action because, really, I'm no authority, now am I? I'm just a mild-mannered writer who hopes to create a few comic books worth reading before I grow old and lose the ability to eat solid foods or wipe my own ass. And, really, that's what all artists should strive for; to contribute something of themselves to the medium they love while they can. I say forget Hollywood. If they come knocking on your door, then good for you, go get your paycheck. But when you get back from taking your new BMW for a cruise around Santa Monica, and sit back down at your keyboard or your art table, consider this:

The future of comics still hangs in the balance, and you've still got a lot of work cut out for you.

We all do.

[Steps down from soapbox]

Best,
Jeremy Fiest

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