vhs era

Good Comics That Had Bad Consequences

The Punisher Volume 1 (1986) & 2 (1987)

What they should have learned: Writers Mary Joe Duffy and later Mike Baron melded elements of men’s adventure novels and VHS-era crime films to superhero comics elevating Frank Castle from a fairly one-note Spider-Man foil to a compelling anti-hero whose popularity continues today.

What they actually learned:  Marvel and DC Comics churned out scores of deadly gun carrying anti-heroes trying to recreate Frank’s success over and over again.

Watchmen (1986)

What they should have learned: Alan Moore’s magnum opus is a one-of-a kind blend of world building, non-linear narrative, and alternative history to create a true mind-spinning work of unparalleled depth.

What they actually learned: Swearing and death scenes makes you “mature.”

Batman: The Killing Joke (1988)

What they should have learned: With it’s sickening violence, lurid nightmarish colors, and elaborate backgrounds Moore’s most controversial DC book is a masterpiece of tension that takes Batman & the Joker’s conflict to it’s furthest logical conclusion and intends to sicken the reader.

What they actually learned: Rather than being the apex of grimdark “The Killing Joke” inspires a generation of readers and writers to decide that Batman should ONLY be grimdark to the point that characters like Harley Quinn and The Mad Hatter have quadruple digit body-counts.  Also Barbara Gordon remains crippled for years despite Moore regretting making that part of the story.

Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man (1988)

What they should have learned:  A young artist takes some visual risks and becomes popular by eschewing Marvel’s house style of the time creating a unique and striking visual. The time experimenting with Spider-Man gives McFarlane the tools to create his wildly popular original series Spawn.

What they actually learned: Rather than inspire companies to take risks with their artists the popularity of McFarelane, Jim Lee, and Rob Liefeld inspire Marvel & DC to make their house style an amalgam of “The Image Style” resulting in eyesores like “Extreme Justice” and “Force Works.”

Bone (1991)

What they should have learned: By mixing cartoon antics and high fantasy Jeff Smith proved that child friendly comics can reach a wide audience and that cartoonish books don’t have to be simple or boring.

What they actually learned: Once the value of a mint condition copy of Bone #1 shot to $100 in Wizard’s Price Guide speculators started looking at black and white indy comics like they were lottery tickets.

Alias (2001)

What they should have learned: Another genre mash-up this neo-noir mix of violence, sex, super-heroics and gritty story-telling FINALLY gave Marvel a critically acclaimed Mature Readers title that could compete with DC’s Vertigo line.

What they actually learned: Writers see Bendis’s take on The Purple Man and conclude that sex crimes are an easy way to show how bad your villain is. Thus paving the way for sleaze-fests like “Identity Crisis” and “Kick-Ass II.” 

Ultimate Spider-Man #1 (2002)

What they should have learned: By taking a thoughtful slow build a young Brian Michael Bendis proved that with clever dialog and solid pacing that character building can be just as exciting as superhero action.

What they actually learned: You can pad-out a one-issue story to six issues then sell it as a trade.

Here’s what I’ve been working on for the past 2 days! A movie poster for my short film starring my favorite original characters: Penn and Kevin! There’s no credit text on it yet because I’m still working out what I would need to put on it/formatting, and the printed poster itself would have my full name on it instead of my tumblr url obviously. Though I digress, I had a TON of fun drawing this out! The design’s been inspired by 1980s era-VHS covers!

For those who don’t know, here’s a bit of what my thesis film is about: The year is 1988 and technology is 1000 years ahead of it’s time. Penn is a young-adult robot who’s coming to terms with his sexual orientation, as well as trying to figure out how to interact with the crazy neon world he lives in. One day, when he’s feeling really comfortable with everything, he decides to come out as gay to some friends at his school in confidence. When things don’t go as well as he planned, he finds out that no matter what it is you’re going through, you’re not alone; and it’ll be ok. Even when things seem to be at their worst and you feel at your lowest, someone will know what that feels like too and be there to support you.

It’s an important lesson that really hits home with me which is why I wanted to make my film about it. Plus, it’s about time the animation medium had some gay characters get some representation and happy endings! I’m super excited to finally be finishing this project up this year! Stay tuned for more! ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ