The Muse Is Not With Me This Week

Know what I’ve done this morning? Got up. Read some Spider-Man comics. Caught up on social media. watched some YouTube videos. Took a shower and otherwise got myself ready for work. Made some coffee. Played some games on the iPad.

Know what I haven’t done this morning? Written. That’s not completely true. I tried writing a post that is currently saved as a draft so that I can go back to it later. And, of course, I’m writing this.

But this whole week, I have struggled to write. For whatever reason, my motivation has gone out the window. I’ve read that you have to write, even when your muse is gone, so that’s why I write this. To have something down. Maybe writing this is what I need to jump start the rest of my writing for the week.

What do you do when you’ve lost your motivation?

Marriage: The One Thing That Stays Dead In Comics

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In the 90’s, Spider-Man went through what is infamously known as “The Clone Saga” in the comics. At its core, it was meant to shake up the Spider-Man mythos, giving writers fresh ideas to play with. Parker was married to MJ at this point and life was going well for him, so they decided to make big changes, including get Peter out of his marriage. That turned out to only be temporary but a few years ago, Peter made a deal with the devil: save his aunt’s life in exchange for the memory of his marriage. Once again, writers wanted to set him free of his “ball and chain.” Peter came out of that as a 30-something who still lives at home with his aunt and can’t keep a job, but he’s not married, so he came out on top, right?

When DC rebooted their entire comic line to “The New 52″ one of the first things to go were the nuptials of DC heroes. Clark and Lois. Barry and Iris. Nobody was married after the reboot. When questioned about that decision phrases like “keeping the story fresh” and “spicing up their love life” were used.

Apparantly, marriage is old and bland.

It’s cheap storytelling. “We’ve written ourselves into a corner. What do we do? Um….retcon.”

Dear Comic Book Writers: it’s not a corner just because they can’t have sex with more than one person. Your stories are not about your characters’ love life. If your character is married, the question shouldn’t be, “How do we ‘spice up his love life’?” It should be, “What does it look like for our hero to have a spouse to come home to?” The tension becomes similar to wives of cops who don’t know if their husbands will come home that night.

Am I the only one who thinks this? Should making marriages magically disappear be the answer to “fresh stories?”

Modern Comics vs. Classic Comics

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I love the Marvel Unlimited app because it gives me access to thousands of comics spanning all the way back to the beginning. Right now, I’m reading through classic Spider-Man, because he’s been one of my favorite heroes since I was a kid and it’s a lot of fun. As I’m reading them, I can’t help but compare these comics with the modern ones that I read.

First of all, I am amazed at how much story they can fit into one issue. Peter can have two story lines running at the same time (one as Peter and one as Spider-Man) and the villain can have his own story as well. Modern comics wouldn’t be caught dead doing that these days. These days, they focus on drawing the story out in to five or six issues doing what is called “writing for the trade.” They write stories for the purpose of turning them into collected editions or trade paperbacks. This bothers me because I feel like we’re essentially paying more money for less story.

On the other hand, there is more of an emphasis on the art of the comic books these days, which I like. The Spider-Man comics that I’m reading right now are so wordy. The text bubbles can take up most of a panel and every panel has text in it. This leaves little room for more than a characters head sometimes, but in modern comics, you can go whole pages with no text except the occasional sound word.

I would love to find a happy medium here, where we can still appreciate the art in the comics, but also get more substantial stories in each issue rather than slowly spreading it out over five or six issues.

The other thing I’ve noticed about these comics is how small the stories are. The world is not about to end in every issue. Instead there are villains who have their own personal agendas, none of which are to start the apocalypse. Stories like this still happen in comics, but the emphasis these days is on preventing the end of the world.

This isn’t a criticism per-say, though. I do like the smaller, more personal stories, but historically, comics have been at their best when they reflect the culture around them. During WW II, they focused on war stories, in the 60’s it was all about the next wave of technology (which is why characters from that era were products of science experiments gone wrong). These days, there is an ever growing paranoia of the impending apocalypse and I think that comics are just reflecting that. That said, it is nice to read stories where the world isn’t about to end.

Which do you prefer, modern comics or older comics?

New Series- A History of Comic Book Movies: Prologue

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If you can’t tell already, I am a big fan of movies based on comic books. And I love looking at the history of them as well, to see where we started and how we ended up where we are now.

It seems that every ten years or so, we get a new era in comic book movies. That said, the first four decades were dominated by only two heroes: Superman and Batman.

For the record, I am skipping through the movie serials and going straight to the first full-length (though very short by today’s standards) superhero movie.

George Reeves donned the red and blue tights for the first time back in 1951 (though, back then, they were black and white to viewers). Superman and the Mole Men debuted in theaters and was to act as a pilot for the TV show Adventures of Superman that followed a year later.

Even though I’ve had the film on DVD for years now (as a special feature on my Christopher Reeve collection), I hadn’t taken the time to watch it until the other day.

The movie takes place in an oil mining town that is all of a sudden being plagued by radioactive men who dwell in the Earth’s crust. With a synopsis like that, you’d think that the Mole Men were the villains in the picture, but no, turns out they’re the helpless victims. The townsfolk are the villains as they progressively become more mob-like in their hunt for the strange creatures. Superman then comes to the aid of the Mole Men, but instead of fighting, he preaches.

This movie fascinates me because there is no climatic fight scene. There is a peaceful end and a message of equality for all people – including Mole Men.

Moving into the 60’s, the Dark Knight takes over as the superhero of choice, though he’s not so dark in this incarnation.

Say what you want about Adam West and the 1960’s Batman, but I love everything about its campy goodness. The movie, which bridged the first and second seasons of the show, still had the preachiness to it that Superman did (though this time the message was about World Peace) but it also had super-villains and lots of action and fight scenes.

I love the colors and the over-acting and the classic dialogue (because honestly, somedays you just can’t get rid of a bomb). Is Batman: The Movie the best superhero movies? No, but it’s still one of my favorties.

We’ve gone through the 50’s and 60’s, but our next stop will actually be in the 80’s. Fortunately, this means that I get to re-watch Superman and Superman II. Unfortunately, this also means that I have to re-watch Superman III and Superman IV.

Calling All DC Fans

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I tried to stay as balanced between to two as I could, but it turns out that I’m a bigger fan of Marvel than of DC. Part of this, I’ll admit, could be because I’m also a Disney fan and they own Marvel, which gives them a leg up in my eyes already. But, before Disney, I still liked what they were doing, in general, more than what DC was doing.

In the theaters, Marvel was basically forced to use their second string heroes to make movies with, because their heavy hitters were farmed out to other companies, and they turned them into a huge box office success. DC can’t seem to get past Batman.

When I started reading comics, I was actually pulled more to DC, probably because of the characters. I read through the Blackest Night event and most of Brightest Day and became a big fan of Green Lantern because of it. I also really enjoyed Stephanie Brown’s run as Batgirl.

But then The New 52 started and, honestly, I felt like these were not the same characters that had been around since the 40’s. So, between that and my not-so-large budget, I stopped reading comics, except for the occasional trade paperback.

But recently, with Marvel Unlimited and the newly announced Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. comic, I want to get back into serial comics. I also want to get back into the world of DC, but because I’ve been gone for awhile now, I’m not sure where to pick back up.

What would you suggest?