Friday, August 8, 2008


I don't know about the comic book thing. It's not generational, the fact that I don't get it. If there is a comic book generation, I'm in it. I think I picked up an Archies comic book a couple times when I was in 5th grade, but that was as deep as I got. Superheroes just seemed kind of dumb and childish to me, even when I was 12. I hope I'm less of a snob now -- I don't dismiss the whole genre, but I still don't get it. I just don't get it.

J and I went to see the Batman movie at the iMax theater on Wednesday. It was fun. It was often beautiful to watch. Gary Oldman is always a treat. And who's more handsome than Christian Bale? (Now I've got a hankering for Velvet Goldmine -- the last time I had the DVD, I watched it about 10 times in 3 days.) Lots of shooting, everybody shooting at each other. Heath Ledger is funny and scary, though at times his performance reminded me an awful lot of Johnny Depp in those pirate movies.

But at the end of the two hours and whatever, I had very little idea what had happened, let alone what it was about.

I've read some great graphic novels, one called Blankets is probably one of my all-time favorite books. And Stuck Rubber Baby is also great. Those are comics, right? Blankets is a beautiful book; the combination of great drawing and great storytelling -- I know I came late to this realization -- is powerful. I'm a huge fan of great drawing, and I can see that there's some great drawing in the superhero comics, so I wonder why that doesn't draw me in. When I try to read the actual comic books, I just can't work up much concern for the characters. It looks silly and contrived to me, the outfits and the things they get really worked up about, like cryptonite or whatever it is. All those cackling villians. I had a hard time not giggling when Batman was on screen in his costume talking to people in regular clothes. (How are these people keeping a straight face standing next to this guy in such a ridiculous outfit?)

So can someone give me some help with the comics genre? (Michael Chabon is one of my favorite writers, but I have avoided reading his most praised book, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, because it's about comics.) Is it possibly related to gender? There were a lot more men than women at the Batman screening. Usually when it comes to those big cultural things that divide men from women (love stories or action thrillers, cooking or sports, etc.) I fall on the female side. There are traditionally-male genres that I've come to appreciate and enjoy because I've connected with particular artists -- like Patricia Highsmith and Jim Thompson for crime stories, Samuel R. Delany for science fiction. Pan's Labyrinth changed my mind a bit about fantasy, though I'm still in the dark with Lord of the Rings. It's a ring, right? The big fuss is about a ring?

I've really enjoyed some porn comics, especially Hard to Swallow, but sex is compelling in any genre.

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