Monday, April 04, 2005

Growing Up

"I want my characters to grow up with me." I've read that a lot and heard it a couple times from people trying to explain how they can like DC's current crop of superhero stuff. The rationale is, I suppose, if you read and like characters as a child, and now you're an adult, then it follows that they should become adult, too. Time has passed, after all. You've matured (supposedly), so why can't your characters?

Um, because they're not yours.

You don't see non comic nerds going around saying, "I grew up with Scooby Do. It's about time those stories got more mature." Why? What's the logic there? Most people, when they get older, don't try to drag everything from their childhood with them. But we've got a generation (or two) of comic fans doing so. They can't leave their Superman behind. They want Superman to reflect the world they live in and the way their life is going.

This is silly!

Nobody's making Popeye cartoons where Olive Oyl gets raped. Because that would be dumb. But hear me out: I'm not saying adults can't enjoy superhero comics, Popeye, or even Scooby Do. But you've got to come to the art, it shouldn't have to come to you. When I eat a kiddie cereal, I don't expect it to be sushi. It is what it is and I yam what I yam and I can appreciate it as such.

If you want to tell (or read) "dark" stories about rape and betrayal and such, perhaps you should pick a better milieu. Perhaps you should make up your own damn characters, or use characters already made for adults. But the spandex-wearing types invented before the 1980s were mostly made for kids. Kids that have little access to the comics now because the previous generation doesn't want to share its toys.

It's even possible to make a really good, adult story featuring children's characters. But that's pretty hard to do, and the folks aiming towards it seem to be missing the mark. Stories ring hollow because it's hard to take tragedy seriously when everyone wears circus tights and has ray guns. At the same time, it's hard to have fun with the stories because they're all linked together by this depressing, self-loathing miasma.

The best part about it is that while these folks are demanding that the stuff they read as children mature, the stories they hold in high regard aren't mature at all. They're adolescent. They're spiteful and still childish, trying to give off an air of maturity. It's all quite silly, really. I'll leave you with a quote from the best comic ever, Flex Mentallo.

"Only a bitter little adolescent boy could confuse realism with pessimism."

7 Love Letters:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never heard that before, that "I want my characters to grow up with me" thing. Is that what's responsible for this nightmare of shittiness? Alex, you open my eyes, damn you.

7:52 PM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

1. You're a lucky bastard who's avoided message boards.

2. I'm Joe, not Alex, goddammit!

7:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I mean Joe, of course! Joe!

11:45 PM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

Now that's what I'm talking about.


What exactly is it that I'm talking about?

5:55 AM

Blogger alex said...

Sweet, sweet love. Of a physical nature, no doubt. With long, sweet caresses, and gentle fingers in the ass.

Awwwww, yeah.

THAT'S what I'm talkin' abizout!

6:56 AM

Blogger Joe Rice said...

That's the way.

10:03 AM

Blogger Michael said...

Well, characters do have to change with the times, but not in the way people seem to think. Superman shouldn't arouse the same feelings in the same people he did in the 1950's; he should arouse those feelings in the kids who are as old now as those people were then. That'll require a bit of superficial tweaking, but the core should stay the same.

4:16 PM


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