Friday, April 02, 2004

Matt Maxwell on comic stagnation... 

I agree so much with this article. I kind of wish we had the setup in Japan where people can sell off amateur fanfiction versions of popular comics without companies cracking down. I can't help thinking that a lot of the time the Marvel/DC stuff is like its own ongoing semi-controlled fanfiction. Good stuff can certainly come out of it, but is it worth it in the end?

If you look at something like Cerebus, that stated off as a Conan parody. But because it was someone else doing it, they were able to veer off and explore vastly different territory. Now I still haven't read Cerebus and obviously the territory he ends up going into at the end is of much debate, but isn't it a lot more interesting in the end than if it was a sanctioned comic done by the Conan rights-holder?

While I can certainly appreciate that certain characters are an archetype and are made powerful by many people doing their own take on it, what if someone just takes the archetype instead of the character? At first it'll probably just be copycat, but there's the potential that it'll change more and more over time, becoming something else entirely. But with the work-for-hire, there is always the company to reign things back if they move too far from the original and always new people to come in with their own fanfictions based on the story of their youth.

It is almost like this particular set of characters have taken over. They've been done so many times and become so powerful in terms of the fans and the creators that it can stifle bigger variations. There is that certain feeling where if someone made a character like Batman "Well.. that's just a rip-off of Batman. Why read that when I can read the real thing?" It can be reassuring to have that certain base to work with. To know that things won't get too far away from the original concept, but that also means that the potential for real growth can be curtailed.

Like Matt, it isn't that I hate superheros or even dislike some of the stories that have been done. It is just that I really have trouble being excited about yet another version of Batman or X-Men when I could go for something completely different instead or frankly even a book inspired by those two that have the freedom to go into new directions...

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