There probably isn’t a form of entertainment in America more misunderstood than comic books. In the 80’s, writers such as Alan Moore and Frank Miller created intelligent, revisionist versions of Daredevil, Batman, and Swamp Thing, but every newspaper still couldn’t resist “Wham! Zap! Pow! Comics Aren’t Just For Kids” type headlines about this “new” interest from those above the age of 12.
While Miller and Moore deserve heaps for credit for rejuvenating a stagnant art form, it still wasn’t clear that there was a huge subculture going on outside of men in tights dealed with damaged psyches while duking it out with over the top villains.
Independent filmmaking is probably responsiblity for introducing a lot of people to the wide variety of underground and independent comic book publishing. Films such as CRUMB, GHOST WORLD, AMERICAN SPLENDOR (and even Hollywood efforts ROAD TO PERDITION and FROM HELL) are good examples of the scope of the different stories going on in the alternative comic book world.
The New York Times Magazine ran an article this past Sunday on the current wave of comic book creators such as Adrian Tomine, Chester Brown, and Art Speigelman. The writer even goes so far as to predict that the graphic novel form will one day replace novels. I wouldn’t quite agree with that statement, but I do think that the artform is hitting an exciting new peak.
An excellent read, even for the uninitiated. And no men in long underwear, just stories about: