PDA

View Full Version : Comic Books Getting Worse?


rustyautoparts
05-06-2009, 01:04 AM
This has been on my mind for the last few hours, so I thought I would share it.

As an Interactive Media Studies major (don't ask me what job that's supposed to be applicable to, I still don't know), I have to take an art literacy class. We've been talking about all different sorts of art, from architecture to sculpture, paintings to illustrations, etc.

Today we talked about comic books. Our professor went through a brief history of comics that I mostly agreed with. However, he made a statement that struck me as plain wrong, but I want to see what you think. He said that western comics (he was mainly referring to DC/Marvel superhero comics) have been getting worse since the 1980s. He said that they are all drawn in the same, boring style. He also said that creativity is stagnating in that area of comics.

Now, I know that comics pretty much sucked through the '90s, but I love me some superheroes. I know that there is a standard 'superhero look,' but is it really stagnating? I haven't been reading comics for that long, so I didn't feel adequately educated enough to offer a rebuttal in front of my class, but what would you have said?

JAFlanagan
05-06-2009, 01:09 AM
As a person who talks about comics as a profession, I'd debate him point for point that he couldn't be more wrong. I'd love to hear his reasons and examples for that, but I can rattle off a dozen artists who work in a dozen styles that would prove him wrong.

miyamotofreak
05-06-2009, 01:11 AM
No. Comic books (especially the superhero variety) are better than ever. Illustration is as diverse as ever. The previous generations may have had more variety but comics are getting better and better. Every month when the solicits come out, I'm just like GODFUCKINGDAMNIT MORE BOOKS TO BUY WITH MY NONEXISTENT INCOME. Offer a rebuttal next class. You come to class knowing your shit and you may get some props. Bring copies of TWD, Invincible, Fell, Scott Pilgrim, Surrogates, Criminal, or Incognito. That's a wide range of illustration styles.

Actually, I remember the iFanboy episode on Marvel Knights touched on how Marvel essentially revived comics with that line by having good writers with good artists, and high quality production values.

rustyautoparts
05-06-2009, 01:22 AM
He specifically brought up 'How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way,' and said that all artists were encouraged to draw superheroes in this way, rather than branching off and doing their own thing, like Frank Miller (whom he also brought up, then later semi-dismissed by saying he got most of his ideas from Japanese art).

I guess what I'm asking is, what kind of mainstream Marvel/DC superhero books are breaking the mold? I think they are, but I can't really prove my point. I thought Andy Kubert did awesome superhero work in Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, but what are some mainstream examples of great superhero art?

conorkilpatrick
05-06-2009, 01:26 AM
He specifically brought up 'How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way,' and said that all artists were encouraged to draw superheroes in this way, rather than branching off and doing their own thing, like Frank Miller (whom he also brought up, then later semi-dismissed by saying he got most of his ideas from Japanese art).

Man, that book is like 20 years old. The basic storytelling principals taught in the book hold up, but to say that modern artists are encouraged to draw that way is to not have any conception whatsoever of modern comic books. I wonder if your professor has even seen any modern comics.

rustyautoparts
05-06-2009, 01:32 AM
I wonder if your professor has even seen any modern comics.

I got the impression that he hasn't really picked up anything mainstream since the '90s., since I agreed with a lot of what he said if I only applied it to the stack of crappy early '90s books I have on my bedroom floor. He also talked about how graphic novels are of better quality than single issues, and while that's true in some cases, I think Image's paper quality is just as good in single issues as it is in TPB format.

I don't intend for this to turn into some kind of flamewar against my professor, but I was really wondering if there were some specific examples of how comic book art in mainstream superhero comics has actually improved over the years rather than stagnating or getting worse.

zombox
05-06-2009, 02:15 AM
Even a snarling, cynic like me can't buy into this.

Production materials are better.
Artists are better trained and have learned from their forebears.
Legitimate, talented writers now consider comic books a valid medium to pursue. Leading to lots of complicated stories with deep literary roots.
The stories are more mature and relevant to real life events than they have ever been.
Comics tap into both the intellectual culture and the mass media with the broad variety and scope of experiences that they deliver.

Without seeing and hearing the exact arguments, I can say that I would disagree with many of these points.

drakedangerz
05-06-2009, 02:59 AM
Yeah, from what you have described I would agree that your professor probably hasn't picked up anything recently. Maybe he was really burned by the 90's boom and has a vendetta against the industry??

I suggest taking in a stack of modern comics that totally dispute the claims he is making. (Suggestions anyone?) Either that, or have the iFanboys do a live call-in during your class to have a debate. That would rock some major socks off.

johnferrigno
05-06-2009, 03:43 AM
Really, just go to any comic shop on any Wednesday, pick up 10 books at random, and you will see 10 different art styles. Back in the 80s and 90s, books did tend to have a somewhat uniform look. But nowadays, the individuality of the artist is prized. As somebody who has been reading super hero comics for about 27 years now, I can honestly say that this moment in time right now is the best superhero comics (over-all) in my lifetime.

I would hardly feel the genre has gone stagnant at all. It wasn't that long ago that stories were still pretty simplistic and told in mostly one or two issues. Now, the plots are much more involved and stories are frequently taking 4-6 issues to tell, 8 if you're Brian michael bendis and have a lot of dialogue to pack in, and about 50 if you're Geoff John's and writing a prologue to a major storyline. (That sounded like a slam, but it's not, i swear!)

And art has never been this varied. Just look at the HUGE difference in artist styles now. Line up Jim Lee, Darwyn Cooke, Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, John Romita, Jr., George Perez, Steve Dillon, Ethan Van Sciver, David Finch, Scott kollins, Alex Maleev, etc and tell me they aren't all wildly distinctive and different from each other.

Also, i second the notion to just have Josh go to your class and school the guy in a debate. But only if I can film it and do pro wrestling style commentary over the verbal beat down.

miyamotofreak
05-06-2009, 03:49 AM
Eh, your professor sounds a bit full of shit. School him.

humphrey-lee
05-06-2009, 04:12 AM
Worse since the 80's? Bullshit. Worse right now than they were at the beginning of the decade? There might be a point in there, but we're still getting stuff on the whole better than we were any time before this time period.

analogboy
05-06-2009, 04:34 AM
Anyone who says that comics all look the same now isn't looking hard enough .. or keeping up with the times.

miyamotofreak
05-06-2009, 04:44 AM
Anyone who says that comics all look the same now isn't looking hard enough .. or keeping up with the times.
You don't even have to look hard. Just grab 10 random books and chances are at least half of them will be unique. Hell, series on their own can have significant art changes issue to issue.

comicbookchris
05-06-2009, 05:57 PM
If this was 1993 and your professor said this...then I'd have to agree. Writing around the 90's (save for a few indy and Vertigo series) were pretty stale, and this was the heyday of the Liefeld-style art, when comic art didn't tell a story, but was pretty much just guys in costumes doing poses. Comic art nowadays seemed to have stived away from that, and comic writers are trying new ways of storytelling to convey a story. Say what you will about the shortcomings of Brian Michael Bendis, but he has writing techniques that are incredibly effective when combinded with the right artist (Such as a great use of dramatic pauses and letting a facial expression tell a story without a thought bubble or caption). Of course, he's not the only incredibly effective writer, thus I'd have to say that there's no better time to read comics then now!