North Texas Daily

Comic books expand to new mediums

Comic books expand to new mediums

Comic books expand to new mediums
June 13
13:33 2014

Nicholas Friedman / Senior Staff Writer

Beginning with 2008’s “Iron Man,” comic book movies and television underwent a transformation, leaving behind cult-classic status and poor casting for big-budget blockbuster films hell-bent on turning mainstream audiences into superhero fanatics.

Once thought to be going the way of the cassette tape and VHS, comic books have found new life over the last 10 years, with shows like the “Walking Dead” and “Arrow” plus films like “The Dark Knight,” “The Avengers” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” all bringing together seasoned collectors and newfound fans of all ages.

FROM FILM TO BOOK

Sophomore RTVF major Kate Werner was part of the acting scene in Dallas in 2012, taking part in a show where 20-something men were unable to get Marvel’s “The Avengers” off their minds.

Werner took a leap of faith, opting to explore the world of comic book films by first viewing the entirety of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, a cohesive world created by Marvel and overseen by seasoned film producer Kevin Fiege. The goal of this project was to emulate the pages of a Marvel comic book, bringing along story threads that led into each other, connecting all the films and leaving the door open for crossover opportunities.

“By the end of that summer I had seen all of the related films multiple times and had gotten into the comic books,” Werner said.

Led by her love for the films she had seen, Werner then delved deeper into the inked pages, and has now found herself a fan of comic series’ “Hawkeye,” “Black Widow,” “Justice League Dark” and “Constantine.” Werner hopes that her favorites will eventually make the jump to television, as she believes the format would be better suited.

“I’d rather see my favorites become TV shows on Netflix,” Werner said. “The formats of comics and seasons are more similar, both often taking a hiatus after an arc is over. Most of my favorite books don’t demand big blockbuster budgets.”

Werner’s newfound love for the comic books landed her a job at Denton’s More Fun & Games and this has helped shape her opinion on comic book movies bringing in new readers.

“I think there’s a comic book for everybody,” Werner said. “The popularity of the movies is helping ensure that people can find a book that they like.”

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Superman Unchained sits next to other installments of “The New 52” series on a shelf in More Fun & Games. To attract new readers, DC Comics launched “The New 52” in 2011.

SHORTER ARCS GAIN POPULARITY

On the opposite side of the spectrum is first and foremost, an original, organic love for comic books. That’s what led Jim Shuman to open up Madness Games & Comics with his wife Dianne, giving them a place to express their appreciation for artistic pages.

Shuman’s preference lies with graphic novels, comic books that are often one-off stories, telling a complete arc in just one or a few books. “Watchmen,” “300,” “Wanted” and “Scott Pilgrim” would all be considered graphic novels, and all of them have seen a popularity increase in the last few years due to big-budget film adaptations.

Shuman said that while movies may bring new audiences to love the characters, he doesn’t believe they directly influence readership and sales.

“The first couple of years I saw spikes but now not so much,” Shuman said. “The last movie where a lot of people came into the store was “Oblivion.” The interesting thing with that is that it was based on a graphic novel that never saw print.”

Cited as one of the biggest issues regarding this, Shuman said, is that comic book publishers are seeing a need to constantly reboot their series in hopes of forming a “jumping-on” point for new readers. Marvel and DC have both done this in the last couple of years with “Marvel NOW!” and “The New 52.”

“Marvel is still number one in sales but they are feeling pinches elsewhere,” Shuman said. “What they do right is movies but they keep rebooting and re-launching, which too makes it a jumping off point for me.”

A COLLECTOR’S MENTALITY

UNT in-house librarian Doug Campbell started reading comic books in the fall of 1977 while he attended kindergarten. The first comic he ever got was from his aunt and uncle, he said, and it was an issue of The Defenders featuring the Hulk.

“During that time there was Hulk television show with Lou Ferrigno,” Campbell said. “So that’s when I started collecting. My grandmother worked at a drug store in a small town in Texas and she would give me around ten comics a week to add to the collection.”

Campbell said that even in the 70s comic books influenced television and vice versa, but this didn’t necessarily translate to an increase in comic sales. Part of this, he said, is that the comics stray from their source material, citing the differences between Tony Stark in the movies and Tony Stark in the comic books.

“Comics back then were still mainly fringe or niche,” Campbell said. “In the comics, Tony Stark had an alcohol problem, but that was changed in the movies.”

Campbell said that he collected comics until the early 90s, and stopped once prices began rising.

 Batman and Green Lantern are just two of the comic book series brought to the big screen as well as the television set. By being portrayed in other forms of media, these characters have been introduced to those who don’t read the comics.

Batman and Green Lantern are just two of the comic book series brought to the big screen as well as the television set. By being portrayed in other forms of media, these characters have been introduced to those who don’t read the comics.

“In 1990 comics were about to hit $2 an issue,” Campbell said. “That and the storylines were getting too complex. At $2 an issue you had to buy five or so different series’ just to get the full story.”

After keeping interest in comics but not actively collecting over the years, Campbell recently decided to donate nearly 1,600 comics to Willis Library at UNT as part of an exhibit being held throughout the summer.

“Since my grandmother used to give me all of those comics, I donated my collection in her memory,” Campbell said. “I considered selling them but the sentimental attachment kept me from doing that. They’ll be better preserved there and I still get to look at them anytime I want.”

Campbell said that anyone interested in comics or even the history of social commentary in media is welcome to look through the collection. He hopes that people will enjoy them just as he did when he was younger.

One of the reasons the comic book industry is booming is that there is something for everyone, from the family collector, to lifelong fans to those influenced by the latest in film and TV. The comic book portfolio has never been more diversified, and the returns have never been greater.

Featured Image: The Hulk, a creation of Marvel Comics, has been portrayed in various television shows, video games and movies.All photos by Christina Ulsh, Senior Staff Photographer

About Author

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman is the Editor In Chief of the North Texas Daily. In addition, he's had his work published at The Dallas Morning News, GuideLive and the Denton Record-Chronicle.

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