I have nothing but respect for SuperHeroes, and the comics that represents them.
Most of my forays into the world of the arts as a youngster were to represent caped avengers or masked do-gooders.
I still have some drawings around to prove it!
But I am of the school of thought that if you love something, and have a chance to improve it, you improve it, and don’t pay attention to the complaints. This has very unique results in our culture if you take this attitude into a discussion on politics:YOU “You noticed that the guy from our political party has been stealing funds?” FELLOW: “You are a bad <Insert political affiliation here> by smearing the good name of our leader!! You know what the <Insert Name of the other political party here> would say about us if they hear you saying that?”
Point is, critical thinking and critiques are necessary if you want improvement. If you don’ t have it, complacency settles in, and stagnation ensues. Unfortunately, with age and some wisdom, comes a change of tastes, so I don’t pine for the guys and gals on long-johns like I used to anymore. Nowadays I need the pijama-crew to entice me, to lure me in, to captivate me.
Keep in mind, I grew up reading the cross over between the silver age of comics to the bronze age, when Dikto had just given way to Romita to stretch his creative inks, and Buscema had found his niche with Conan. I was loving the angles in the Spiderman comics, the city landscapes, the splash-pages…I was being awed by the depictions of Harlem in Luke Cage comics, en enjoying the pulpy glory of horror with Werewolf by Night, or The Tomb of Dracula. Back in those days, the majority of comics you could pick up were awesome. Even if you didn’t like folks with superpowers, you could take your pick from Warren, publishing sexy Vampirella, straight horror in Creepy, or even reprinting The Spirit. But at that time, the capes were new, were refreshing, were innovating.
Even the house of archetypes, DC, would let Batman be reinvented, and produce the amazing run of Neal Adams and Dennys O’Neill, and the same with Green Lantern/Green Arrow.
So back to present day… in this decade some times I sometimes find things that attract me for the most unexpected reasons, sometimes I get lured by the common bait. A few years ago it was The Ultimates. It was before the hype about the avengers movie, and some of us were able to appreciate the savvyness of the industry doing tie-ins in this brilliant way. It was not just savvy marketing; the Marvel boys and gals tied it neatly with the amazing art of Bryan Hitch and the sharp pen of Mark Millar. More recently than that, I got to appreciate the graphical story telling greatness of the artist in the Astonishing X-men, John Cassaday. He left me speechless with the attention to detail he brought into the action/fightscenes. For me, the art always holds a special appeal. Unfortunately, most of Marvel/DC titles are populated by good artists, but not outstanding artists, amazing artists, in the caliber of the Romitas or the Buscemas from the olden times. And then I get a treat like this where John Cassaday forces me, entices me to pay attention to every detail on the page, and rejoice with the compositions. Unfortunately a jaded comic reader like me gets these treats too far apart in the main stream publishers. And you know what? I don’t mind anymore. Let the Big Two server as vehicles to hook up new readers, new customers, and spike the interest of countless hordes of new comic fans. A decent percentage of those will stay, and some may even drop out, but eventually they will retake their long lost love for the graphic image, and eventually their tastes may even get more sophisticated, and wander into the worlds of Baltimore, or Hoax Hunters, or the 6th Gun, and eventually they may even arrive at Moebius, or Caza, or Drulliet, or Manara.
Point in case is that recently Milo Manara was contracted to put out a book of the X-men women, and Moebious made his own incursions in the Marvel universe with the Silver Surfer.
In in a few interviews I recall reading where the journalist asked why the deceased genius disliked Superheroes, the humble master set the interviewer straight…He stated he liked them very much.
But what I am trying to point out is that eventually you have to reach that cenit, where the same old story of spidey or supes is just not enough for you, and you want more… you start seeing stories worth reading in the side characters, in the locations, beyond the guys in the pijamas.