Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pizza Doodletime - The Phantom

Eddie and I got to talking about why Mike hated superheroes, and I said it was a great American tradition that should be ever preserved, but in its more innocent purer state.

Then we tried to figure out who invented the first superhero and we guessed it was Lee Falk, creator of the Phantom.

I remember reading The phantom in the funny papers in the 60s and knew it had been around forever. I don't think he actually had any superpowers, but he had the more important thing that defines superheroes: he went around in public in his underwear. I don't know how that was ever invented, or whether it evolved out of something else. I would like to think that it just occurred to Falk or somebody as an inspiration. Imagine thinking to yourself: "I've got it! I will create a crime fighter who goes around in his underwear beating people up! And no one will question it!"

Then I tried to remember what he looked like. He had a pretty bland costume I recalled. But Eddie, who's more conscious of silky man-fashions than me reminded me that he had purple striped briefs as an accent over his leotards.
Eddie and I spent some time debating which side of your hand the thumb went on.
The first Superheroes were pretty sedentary. The artists hadn't discovered action poses yet.
It took Jack Kirby to invent the idea of drawing fighters in action poses.
Eddie said he remembered the Phantom couldn't fly, so he rode a horse instead. And the poor criminals only had mere cars and bullets.

Then I took to doodling some more superhero types.


We wondered whatever happened to the Cheerios Kid? I imagine he grew up and still gets his go powers from dried stale starch rings.
What's great about superheroes is that they are as preposterous as talking funny animals but are meant to be taken seriously. As if there were dramatic stories starring the 3 Stooges. Even stranger is that I've met people who take comic book writers seriously and I've witnessed people arguing over whose stories make more dramatic sense.

I wonder if Falk was outraged when Siegel and Shuster came along and gave a man in underwear magical powers, destroying the believability of a crime fighting man in underpants on a horse. Can he have imagined that one day there would be hordes of undergarment crime fighting heroes and the whole world would totally accept the concept as normal?

It must be a great job though to get up every day and think up new adventures for underpants. I'd like to do that in my retirement and see if I can get a horde of fans to take me seriously.

Superheroes are a great American tradition and I kind of wish they would go back to being more mainstream in cheap throwaway comics on newsprint so every little kid could grow up normal, instead of just a few super nerdy kids (and adults!) who have to go out of their way to specialty comic stores for blurry photoshopped angry superheroes with pointy anatomy on expensive slick paper.

Bring back Mort Weisinger!

90 comments:

Vincent Waller said...

If I had to guess where the long underwear in public came from, I'd say it was probably a leave over from some of the strongman acts in carnivals, Vaudeville, and side shows. Where they wanted to so off their physics, but decency laws forced them to cover their shameful sin encrusted skin.

Nice superhero doodles. All superheros should have packages so big that it interferes with their trying to run.

Tchadd said...

Absolutely correct, John. The world of superhero comics is a sad, ridiculous place, with a significant lack of energy and most of all, fun. Most are as dour, lifeless and self-serious as the bleakest Scandinavian art film. A genre once populated by Jack Kirby, Will Eisner and Jack Cole is now run by would be novelists and screenwriters trying to get big budget films made of their concepts. Oh well...
kids can just play video games and roast their little brains. Have a good one!

P.S.- I'd love to see a post about Jack Cole, now that I think of it! His best work is nearly as wild as Milt Gross.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

Y'know, The Phantom is still in the newspaper comics. It appeared in my local paper, 'The Philadelphia Inquirer' during the 80's and when I was reading, it was still being drawn by Sy Barry.

Lee Falk, the creator, actually helped Barry come up with the 'standard look' of him, and for some reason, I stopped reading when Barry retired.

The funny thing is, I didn't know that Barry had left at the time. I remember that in 1995 I stopped reading the strip ( I can't recall my reasoning ) and coincedentally, that's around the time the strip changed artists.

I never knew who took over, but I heartell that now the strip is being done by Paul Ryan of Fantastic Four fame, which I would imagine is better than having some young ghost artist imitate the style.

Nothin' beats the real deal!

Thank you John and Eddie, for eating pizza and jogging my memory. Three cheers for underwear justice!

- trevor.

PS: Did ANYone like the movie?

Raff said...

Quote:

he had the more important thing that defines superheroes: he went around in public in his underwear.

....man in underwear magical powers...

..crime fighting man in underpants..

..undergarment..
..underpants..

Like, what are you, six?

j/k!

I'm with Vincent, probably came from strongman acts and very likely wresting.

But the cape is a weird touch, don't ya think?

Raff said...

Maybe this had an influence:

Mongolian Wresting outfit description

JohnK said...

You guys are ruining the magic.

Don't you wanna believe in pure creativity?

How did someone come up with the mask that doesn't hide your face, yet no one can recognize you or your voice?

Answer that, smartypantses.

Hammerson said...

Hilarious pizza doodles! The expression on the first one really cracks me up! I remember Phantom and Mandrake the Magician (another creation of Lee Falk), these were two of my favorite comic heroes when I was a kid. Even used to draw my own, completely ridiculous versions of the characters. Several comic magazines used to reprint the original episodes from '30s to '50s, and I really enjoyed these as a kid... I wonder what would be my reaction if I read them now.

By the way, here are some new Jimmy drawings.
Take a look

Captain Napalm said...

I'll believe in "pure creativity" when I see it. The fact that everything comes from somewhere isn't just an outlook, it's a fundamental part of understanding how creativity works. Frankly, I think the word "purity" should be removed from the english language - it has never done any good, ever.

Andrés Sanhueza said...

Some people says that the underpants thing is inspired by the circus performers, that uses trunks over their tights for hide their packages.

eyeslikesugar said...

I remember reading an article back in December arguing that Don Quixote was the first superhero. They had some pretty solid arguments. My boyfriend is looking up the article online right now and said that Peter David wrote an article about Don Quixote being the first superhero. I guess it's how you define it; he certainly can't fly, nor does he wear his underwear on the outside, but he had firm beliefs and will-power.

I enjoy the idea of Don Quixote being the first superhero =)

Ted said...

First superhero: ancient. See, for example, Melquart/Samson/Hercules. You even get a costume with wearing the skin of the Nemean lion.

Tommy said...

"Superheroes are a great American tradition and I kind of wish they would go back to being More mainstream in cheap throwaway comics on newsprint so every little kid could grow up normal, instead of just a few super nerdy kids (and adults!) who have to go out of their way to specialty comic stores for blurry photoshopped angry superheroes with pointy anatomy on expensive slick paper."

Yes, thank you.

Ardy said...

I always get mad at the way people perceive Batman. The original Batman comics are ridiculous! Batman and Robin slept together and fought clowns with an endless arsenal of gadgets that all had the word "bat" in front of them. Nowadays people act like Batman was always an angst-filled anti-hero with a disturbing film-noir inspired past. Come on.

Superheroes should never be taken seriously.

Adam T said...

Superheroes are a great American tradition and I kind of wish they would go back to being More mainstream in cheap throwaway comics on newsprint so every little kid could grow up normal, instead of just a few super nerdy kids (and adults!) who have to go out of their way to specialty comic stores for blurry photoshopped angry superheroes with pointy anatomy on expensive slick paper.

I've read some newer super hero comics, and you've really nailed it. The artwork is absurd. Tights have been replaced by hundreds of pounds of armor made out of stone. And ink work and fun colors have been replaced by lens flare effects and mud.

I blame Japan for killing American superheroes. Nintendo came into American homes around 1983 which began a Japanese pop culture invasion. This passed by most adults at the time but kids who were my age and younger, and played video games, couldn't escape it.

So the new generation of superhero comics are definitely in the Japanese model, where superheroes don't have outlandish superpowers but gimmicky weapons and armor. Same for the drawing style.

Japanese pop culture fetishism and Wacom tablets are running the show these days.

Jose said...

haha! man, this post made me laugh. yeah it suck that comics all try to be and look 'slick'. and why are all these heroes angry? why is everyone angry these days? remember when batman was some wiseguy, cracking jokes? same with the phantom now that i think about it. then they made him a dark knight guy too.

Captain Napalm said...

Isn't it funny how blaming the Japanese for ruining everything is almost a calling card for any serious discussion of classic comic art and animation these days? (Oh, this comment is sooo gonna get deleted...)

Jose said...

oh, and speaking of bald-looking heroes with eye mask:

http://boojiboysbits.blogspot.com/2007/09/zeke-and-destroy.html

Backthrow said...

Don'tcha wish Hollywood's superhero movies were more like these--

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R98fcL8UD4w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okxWjilRY3s (no visible underwear on this guy, but Michael Jackson stole his jacket, so it's sorta similar territory)

Ted said...

Ardy, Batman started out pretty serious. No Robin, no Joker, just some thugs and a guy in a mask willing to push said thugs into, for starters, vats of acid.
http://en.dcdatabaseproject.com/Detective_Comics_27_(1939)
But then, Batman isn't actually a superhero, he is a non-powered psychopath with a big wallet and a one track mind. Which is what makes him much more interesting than the alien boyscout in the red cape. He wasn't silly until after WWII (tho some of the patriotic stories are a bit silly in retrospect), and stopped being silly for the most part in the late '60s/early '70s. If you want a cartoony Batman, then read some Batmite comics.

I.D.R.C. said...

I think the word "purity" should be removed from the english language - it has never done any good, ever.

I'd be lost without the phrase, "pure bullshit".

I think Frank Miller is the father of super-serious superheroes. He added several billion dollars the the Batman franchise with THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. Every bat thereafter was based in part on that, and everybody noticed the revenue stream.

All Frank really did was build on Stan Lee's idea of superheroes with real-world problems. Stan Lee never made the mistake of believing that the problems and the angst and the darkness were the main appeal. He primarily delivered FUN, not depression.

I may be out on a limb here, having not looked at a comic book in a long time, But I think what is being sold now has more to do with appealing to a kid's sense of alienation and power fantasies than their desire for heroism. In other words, the underlying psychology is not saving the world from evil, it's getting back at those guys that laughed at you. I just made that up, but 20 bucks says it's true.

James said...

Japan is still a place where you can find newsprint comics with ridiculous stories. Really weird stuff like guys beating the crap out of each other with their nose hair. Japan is not to blame for the West's creative bankruptcy.

Jorge Garrido said...

The cape came from wanting to show speed and movement in an easy way. Read the hsitory of DC comics, kids. The mask is just a fun way to make him look mysterious. It came from Zorro and the Lone Ranger. It's a grand old American Tradition of nonsensical kids stuff. I think the tights were meant to look vaguely futuristic.

Bill Watterson has a great quote: "You can make your hero a pyschopath, you cann fill the pages will gut splattering violence, and you can call it a 'graphic novel,' but comic books are still incredibly stupid"

At least the old comics were stupid yet fun. New ones are stupid, depressing nihilistic garbage. Where's the high adventure and two-fisted action of yesteryear?

idrc: Frank Miller? Realistic? Here's a quote from him that sums him up:

"People are attempting to bring a superficial reality to superheroes which is rather stupid. They work best as the flamboyant fantasies they are. I mean, these are characters that are broad and big. I don't need to see sweat patches under Superman's arms. I want to see him fly."

Did anyone think 300 was realistic? Of course not, Miller specializes in characters that are mythic and one-dimensional. I'm not a fan of Miller because his stuff looks too simple and flat to me (Like Alex Toth crossed with japanese art) and his writing is too dark but I hardly think he is to blame.

Captain Napalm said...

Good point, IRDC - pure bullshit is rampant. Everywhere. James is right too.

Ben Forbes said...

These doodles are hilarious. Sadly, there aren't many great comics out at the moment.

Click!

Heres a Sody pose based on one of Rex H's quick storyboard sketches. I couldn't scan m original so I had to use my old tablet to get it on the computer.

Joel Bryan said...

Blaming Japan is silly. It's practically a non sequitor that shows more about the bias of the commenter than it illuminates anything about why a lot of mainstream superhero comics suck today.

Are there influences from Japanese comics? Yeah, but there are just as many from American sources, and a constant lowering of the bar in terms of content in order to catch whatever wave of darkness the companies think the kids are into this week. What was Spawn but Todd McFarlane putting Spider-Man's mask together with Batman's cape, stealing a ton of angst from Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and then slapping on a heapin' helpin' of Satan, 'cuz Satan rocks, dude!

Just naked pandering to the lowest common denominator. And hugely successful. But Japanese?

But I'm with John. Superheroes are intrinsically silly and adding on layers of existentialism or nihilism hasn't done anything but amplify their basic absurdity. And even attempts at "realism" are merely arbitrary.

Got a problem?

Punch it away!

mike f. said...

[I think what is being sold now has more to do with appealing to a kid's sense of alienation and power fantasies than their desire for heroism...]

The key word here is "kid". After a certain age - say, 12 or so - kids are supposed to stop reading comics, and start reading REAL books, WITHOUT staples.
Then, hopefully, start dating girls...

Adult males who still read superhero comics are - I'm trying to be diplomatic here - retarded, and in more ways than one.

Frank Miller made a fortune by cynically appealing to the most backward segment of an already socially and intellectually-retarded segment of American society: ADULT superhero comic book readers, (i.e: "morons")

By taking a preposterous concept and making it "darker", he only added a layer of pomposity. As if "moronic" wasn't bad enough, modern superhero comics strive to be moronic AND pretentious!
(As Dean Wormer would have said - that's no way to go through life, is it?)

What's next? Frank Miller's "Dark Forbush Man" from NOT BRAND ECCH!?
The mouthbreathers would love it, and they wouldn't even know they were being made fun of!

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

I always hated superheroes as a kid for just that reason: they were too serious, depressing and angry.

PCUnfunny said...

Batman was dark in his early incarnations because he actually carried a gun and would usually murder the main villians, though accidently. However, it was still quite silly because of the theatrical dialogue. No one in those comics you could really take seriously. The same can be said for the Batman comics by Denny O'Neill and Steven Engelheart. There was a sense of grit, not reality, but those stories still had the melodramatic dialogue. Today's comics are sadly absent of those silly aspects that made them fun. Comic artists and writers are making the super heros "realistic". I also miss the days of comic book publishers not forcing you to read like three different comic book series just to finish one story. Anyone who buys comic books on a regular basis knows what I am talking about. Personally, I am starting to get bored with super hero comics and I am turing to funny animal ones like Carl Barks' work. Scrooge McDuck is far more complex then any super hero who was ever existed.

PCUnfunny said...

IDRC: You are so right. Comic books, just like Manga, today are now being filled with moody teenages with super powers.

escapefrmla said...

I do think that the Japan influence is a big factor in what is going on now .I am not sure if you can actually " Blame " the Japanese. They have and had their style all along forever, we at some point decided to marry both styles. The younger generation has gobbled it up making this style the norm. So now you can only hope that the smaller publishers try and keep the classic style alive. There is some retro stuff coming back but not enough mostly self published. I do agree 100% that the humor and all around good time feeling is gone. It's now about how I can kill you and how cool the blood spatters on the glossy cover you paid $5 for.

Adam T said...

Japan is still a place where you can find newsprint comics with ridiculous stories. Really weird stuff like guys beating the crap out of each other with their nose hair. Japan is not to blame for the West's creative bankruptcy.

I was only commenting on mainstream superhero comics. The Japanese make superior automobiles, game shows, and video games. We can learn much from them.

And I don't mind Japanese influence in superhero comics at all if it led to more variety and new ideas improving what was already great, but the mainstream comic book industry is now over saturated with artists whose primary influences are Japanese.

There was a shift in the influences of mainstream comic book pencillers that began in the mid nineties. Here's Uncanny XMen #301 pencilled by John Romita Jr. He's clearly working within the American superhero comic tradition and here's Uncanny XMen #340 pencilled by Joe Madureira. When he took over the series became hugely popular. So the execs at Marvel and DC found a bunch of people who drew like him thinking they could reproduce Uncanny XMen's success.

Now there are more artists working in mainstream superhero comic books who draw like Joe Madureira than like John Romita Jr, which is annoying. Because the manga style is less interesting in my opinion. It's too stylized. Not even Maria Shriver is that angular. It's like the modern architecture of comic art. If all we're allowed to work with is rectangles, concrete, and glass all of our buildings are going to start to look the same.

I just think the American tradition leaves more room for the artists to inject original ideas while still having a solid foundation to build upon.

As for the source of the West's creative bankruptcy. I blame market research and lousy public schools.

PCUnfunny said...

(As Dean Wormer would have said - that's no way to go through life, is it?)

Just as bad being "Fat,drunk,and stupid". ANIMAL HOUSE RULES !

Dan Jackson said...

mike f.... I think you forgot to eat your 'Mongo Chow' today.

"Adult males who still read superhero comics are - I'm trying to be diplomatic here - retarded, and in more ways than one."

Yeah, maybe. Same could be said for adult males who still watch and obsess over cartoons (I guess it's ok for females though).

lastangelman said...

All this business with the tights does hearken back to vaudeville performers and circus strongmen.
The business with the mask can be historically ascribed to this fancy-pantsed creation, whom appears to have been influenced by radio serials of the day. It is in the public domain, now so he's ripe for a revival.

Today, there are too many distractions for kids' attention. Television, cable, internet, cell phones, video games, 'splosion filled cinematic eruptions and this weird thing that crept in during the nineties - irony. Innocence, playful creativity, forgeddaboutit! Unbelievably enough, there is still the magic that is "the suspension of disbelief", but now that regard is held for "reality show" stars. Whoa! There's that irony thing, again.

Irony is the great enemy of innocence in today's pop culture. Oddly enough, if something hokey and sappy enough comes along, it gets mistaken for innocence and does gangbusters for the marketers. Genuine innocence in entertainment will occasionally touch the masses in today's pop culture and score a grand slam, but it is still quite a rare event (do you think one of the themes of Brad Bird's The Incredibles was about getting in touch with, or reviving the lost innocence of bygone days of superheroes?).

Returning to form, the original idea of the tights-wearing bemasked crimefighters, with (i.e Superman, Spider-Man, Captain America)or without(i.e The Phantom, The Bat-Man, Captain Klutz) superhuman abilities or resources, is ripe for a comeback, as long the irony business is left out. There is a longing, I feel, culturally for something that was once pure, fun, doesn't require a lot of thinking or overanalyzing, just accepting right out what a character or characters is/are, and get on with the business of fun. In your commentary on the Popeye cartoons, you zeroed in what made those original Fleischer cartoons so successful, that could be applied in creating a new superhero comic for the 21rst century.(Hell, I'd be happy as a pig in slop if the original vision of Segar's Popeye was brought back, a bad language mangling, hot-headed barroom brawling, rascally but lovable sailor - I haven't any read any modern Popeye strips ever since he became politically correct - how humility-aysking! - but Popeye as America's first real superhero, is for another post, I imagine.)

Bitter Animator said...

So... anyone see Iron Man?

I love the idea of comics, but it's the fact that 99% or more are superhero comics that put me off. And I don't have the energy to go looking for that 1%.

As many here have observed, most seem to be just angsty kids. That's what sells and, seeming, has sold since the late 80s. Alienation. Being a miserable androgynous little shit.

Well I think misery and bitterness needs to be earned. What do kids know of misery? Nothing. Well, most of them.

I wonder if I made a comic called MiserableAndrogynousLittleShit-Man, would it sell? It's about a man who was bitten by a radioactive miserable androgynous little shit and gains the power of both man and the, well, you know. I'm totally going to make that.

Anyway, I enjoyed that Iron Man movie.

Colin said...

John, I've read this blog for a long time, and I agree with most of the things you say. But on this issue, I couldn't disagree with you more.

When comics started getting deeper, it was the best thing to happen to them.

If comics would have stayed as that lame throwaway crap, we never would have gotten such great works as Watchmen.

Colin said...

"Adult males who still read superhero comics are - I'm trying to be diplomatic here - retarded, and in more ways than one."

I think the fact that I'm coherent enough to use a computer and form a rational thought is proof positive against that claim.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

John: Haw! Great drawings and great comments on the state of superhero comics! We need to get cheap, kid-friendly comics into venues where kids can find them and buy them.

Vincent: Interesting! It never occurred to me that carnival strongmen were the first to dress that way!

Colter said...

Maybe the original creators of these comics were just perverted.

Also.. The Phantom was made into a movie in 1996 starring Billy Zane.

http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi569901337/ - HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

HemlockMan said...

Ah, Mort! A true Prophet!

Me...I miss the gorilla covers.

PCUnfunny said...

I very much enjoyed the Iron Man movie and I want to see The Dark Knight as well.

Hryma said...

Thanks John for taking the time to gander at my BG's and George and giving constructive critique.
Very much appreciated!

I've also posted some "Inked" images up on my blog.
http://hryma.blogspot.com
Ones with ink and brush and others graphics tablet in photoshop.

I can sweep too and on the odd occasion, can clean toilets. I have refrences.


Sad thing about kids these days, I don't think they'd understand cheap kid friendly comics. They want them to shine and 'bling'.

nagyaron said...

seems like this post needs it's own blog :D
there are some interesting theories here, and it's fun to read them.
About the strongman theory... Now there's a point!
And setting Don Quijote as the first super hero... Amazing idea! (Still there's some truth in going back a few thousend years for the first hero, and if i had to pick someone, it would be Gilgamesh)
And finally, for everyone's amusement here's 2 paintings by Daumier in this subject:
that's Don Quijote

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Honor%C3%A9_Daumier_017.jpg

and that's a strongman of the festivals (actually it's not from Daumier, it's an interpretation of a Daumier painting by Dale Richards)
http://www.despard-gallery.com.au/artists/richards_index/5.html

Karswell said...

>Adult males who still read superhero comics are - I'm trying to be diplomatic here - retarded, and in more ways than one.

"Jesus Christ was the first superhero, he saved the word and all your souls," says the adult male who can't stop reading the most overrated supernatural hero book of all time.

Now who's retarded?

cemenTIMental said...

Great post + doodleS! :)

So the new generation of superhero comics are definitely in the Japanese model,
But they don't really even HAVE superhero comics in japan!

They do however have what the US comic industry should be aspiring towards: a real living comic industry, publishing comics in more than one single genre, which are widely read by real life actual people of all walks of life, not just a tiny niche of collector nerd man-children.

The popularity of Japanese pop culture in the west is not a cause of how terrible our comics are, it's an EFFECT.

PCUnfunny said...

Colin: I am personally for some deeper ideas in comics but can't they aknowledge they are rather silly ? Even when Marvel started dealing with issues such as racism and drugs there was still was the colorful dialogue.

J Hobart B said...

Well, I guess I'll be the first to go against the current on this one, because I like the dark, angsty "graphic novel" type superheroes.

I like the old, goofy ones too, but to me, the current crop is only serious if you take them that way. I see it more as a heightened, caricatured version of seriousness, which is no less fun than the old style because it's so over-the-top and goofy. A guy who dresses like a bat and punches bad guys is silly, but when that guy cries about how he's doing it all for his dead parents, it's even sillier.

It's still fun because it's still popcorn entertainment. I would agree whole-heartedly with the Watterson quote that Jorge posted, except I think of that as a defense of angsty-angry comics breed, not a slam.

Raff said...

Folks, here's something that covers the bases: It's a collaboration between the Americans and the Japanese, is good silly over-the-top superhero fun and has Gary Owens doing his best superhero announcer shtick:

Migthy Orbots

Wish I could find a better copy.

The Butcher said...

The coolest superheroes don't even wear underwear. The Hulk, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and Lobo don't bother with that shit.

Nathan said...

I think the artwork in the early superhero comics was absolutely stunning. I recently looked through many old comic books to get inspiration for an animated film I was working on called Mortonomous. The colors in those comics were inspired me a ton. You can take a look at my short film at http://www.mortonomous.com

Great post John!

Colin said...

"We need to get cheap, kid-friendly comics into venues where kids can find them and buy them"

They are. Marvel and DC both produce Marvel Adventures and Johnny DC respectivley that are aimed at younger kids. Plus Disney still produces comics like Ducktales, Bongo puts out Simpsons Comics, and Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo has always been accesible for all readers.

But seeing as how the majority of comic book readers are adults, comics are written for adults.

mike f. said...

[At least the old comics were stupid yet fun. New ones are stupid, depressing nihilistic garbage. Where's the high adventure and two-fisted action of yesteryear?]

I couldn't have said it better, Jorge.

The old superhero comics didn't have any pretensions. They were fun, old-fashioned escapist entertainment for kids, and the young at heart.

For all you adult superhero fanboys out there, (are you listening, Colin?) - if you MUST insist on being a retard, at least don't be a retard with delusions of grandeur. Ask your mom to buy you a REAL book!

I can't believe anyone in his right mind could take BATMAN seriously. (It seems to me the old sixties TV show got the tone just right; as did Bruce Timm.)
Frank Miller ruined comics forever by targeting self-important adult ignoramuses. He must be laughing all the way to the bank...

[PS: Did ANYone like the movie?]

Do you mean THE PHANTOM, Trevor? I just remember lusting after a young Catherine Zeta-Jones. Couldn't tell you anything else about it if you tortured me - which the rest of the movie did, incidentally.

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

I never liked superhero comics for just these reasons as a kid. They were depressing, angry and way too serious. I just couldn't see the appeal of no fun at all.

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

Let's bring back some good old fashioned cheesy men in tights.

Ted said...

There were some light hearted BTAS episodes, but also plenty of dark ones (pretty much any R'as al Ghul story, ofr a start), probably more serious episodes than comedic ones (with jokes thrown in even the serious episodes, of course). The Mad Love graphic novel was darker than the episode (more explicitly about domestic abuse), but they were both from Brice Timm... Justice League ended up getting pretty serious, and while Timm wasn't as involved as in BTAS, he was still involved. He was pretty involved in the Return of the Joker movie, and that was quite dark.

Colin said...

"if you MUST insist on being a retard, at least don't be a retard with delusions of grandeur. Ask your mom to buy you a REAL book!"

Wow, that's your best argument, calling me retard. I'd fire back, but, I don't fight with 12-year-olds.

Dude, you're the ones with delusions of grandeur. You think you're better than me just cause I read comics. If you don't like them that's fine, but don't go around thinking you can insult the people that do just cause you have a hair up your ass.

I find it odd you like Bruce Timm's take on Batman, seeing as how it was his serious take on the character that helped change superhero cartoons.

But you know what, do whatever gets you off at night. You're not going to make me feel back for liking what I do. And if you wanna be a closed minded douche, fine. A sfar as I'm, concerned, you can go fuck yourself and your mamma.

Adam T said...

Maybe the social maladjusted man-children who read modern superhero comics could no longer relate to selfless heroes saving total strangers.

They wanted their life romanticized. So that means isolation, brooding, jealousy, and REVENGE on the bullies, I mean villains, who've wronged them in the past.

I don't really know it's all speculation, but I agree with Jorge and Mike that adventure for adventure's sake has disappeared. Instead of being the plot, adventure is used as a plot device for 'exploring the heroes psyche'. And as a bonus you can enjoy those thought bubbles with jagged disproportionate faces and lots of Photoshop effects.

Hollywood occasionally supplies brainless adventure, but you can't go to a news stand and get a temporary fix anymore.

Kali Fontecchio said...

I like superheroes because you can see their package bulge. That's about it. Wolverine, and Powderedtoast Man have some nice ones. Go package power!

queefy said...

LOLINTERNETARGUMENT

PCUnfunny said...

Ted: BTAS was good because it kept the humor even in the most serious episodes like "The Laughing Fish". After that, Timm made the mistake of making his work just serious. Return of The Joker was a nice return to that BTAS style but only in the flashback sequence. Everything else was bland in the film, especially Terry Mcginness who's personality can only be summoned as "teenager".

I.D.R.C. said...

Jorge, I never said Frank Miller is "realistic", I said he built on the idea of superheroes with real-world problems for his DARK KNIGHT. So did Mc Farlane's Spawn. I don't know who was first.

I also never said that that was the only trick up Miller's sleeve. I'm not trying to assassinate his character. I'm not even saying he did something wrong. I just think he did something that caught on, in some form, across the industry. Others may have done it first for all I know, but he did it with BATMAN, and that eventually translated into billions that are too hard for others to ignore or to not attempt in some form to replicate. So just as many might say we have a post-John K. animation industry, we may have a post-Miller superhero comics industry, or something like that.

That is my reasoning, anyway, but I admit there is little real studying involved. I don't mind at all being contradicted, there is nothing at at stake for me, just get the points right. Perhaps I failed to adequately express it.

JoeyCee said...

The Spider (not Spiderman mind you) may have been the 1st super hero...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spider
was what batman was based on...Rich crime fighter with a secret identity...loads of fun

PCUnfunny said...

Since we are on comic books, artist Jim Lee is gulity as charged with blandless in the 1st degree. All the men, women, and children look exactly the same.

Kali: I agree, nothing like a big sexy bulge.

Jorge Garrido said...

Colin: Those kids comics Marvel and DC produce are the best comics out there now, but they're still too expensive and are not widely available at every newsstand, drugstore, Wal-Mart and 7/11. I collected the Justice League Adventures comic (based on Bruce Timm's tv show) and they were great! Bruce Timm's angular style works good in comic books, perhaps moreso (better inked and posed) than in animation. But they were terribly expensive and hard to find.

The fact that most comic books are for adults and the dominance of "comic book stores" full of creepy adults with man boobs, ironic t-shirts, long hair and unshaven faces over the aforementioned large circulation locations is the reason the artform/business is dead.

The business model itself is all wrong.

Kali: That's offensive.

Queefy: AMIDOINITRITE?

idrc: I think I get what you're saying and you're probably right.

Colin said...

"Colin: Those kids comics Marvel and DC produce are the best comics out there now, but they're still too expensive and are not widely available at every newsstand, drugstore, Wal-Mart and 7/11. I collected the Justice League Adventures comic (based on Bruce Timm's tv show) and they were great! Bruce Timm's angular style works good in comic books, perhaps moreso (better inked and posed) than in animation. But they were terribly expensive and hard to find.

The fact that most comic books are for adults and the dominance of "comic book stores" full of creepy adults with man boobs, ironic t-shirts, long hair and unshaven faces over the aforementioned large circulation locations is the reason the artform/business is dead.

The business model itself is all wrong."

Okay yeah I don't know the walking stereotpes you talk to, but the ones I know, bathe, are clean shaven. dress normally, hold down jobs, have families, and are easily relateable and fun to talk to,.

The fact that you link us all into one big steretype just proves your ignorrance about it.

Ted said...

There's humor in the post BTAS Timmverse. In Justice League, that mostly comes from the Flash (the one where he switches bodies with Luthor is hilarious), but there's other stuff like the Question's relationship with the Huntress, or the whole "Wonder Woman turns into a pig" episode.

At the same time, there are some stories that are better off without a bunch of humor in them. Justice League's first season wasn't very good, but it wasn't due to the lack of humor so much as the general not especially goodness of it.

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

Hey Mr. Fontanelli:

"Do you mean THE PHANTOM, Trevor? I just remember lusting after a young Catherine Zeta-Jones. Couldn't tell you anything else about it if you tortured me - which the rest of the movie did, incidentally."

Mike, I like your style. I'm with you. I remember in the early 90's seeing this movie, the new ZORRO and Eric Idle's SPLITTING HEIRS, and they were the reason I elected Catherine Zeta Jones that year as 'best ass in Hollywood".

She was topped a few years later, in my book, by Salma Hayek.

"You guys are ruining the magic.

Don't you wanna believe in pure creativity?"

Yes. That's why I watch 'Baby Bottleneck' and 'Buckaroo Bugs'! That's what I see in those two cartoons, and that's why I love them because Clampett achieves pure creativity in those cartoons the most, IMHO.

I grew up reading The Phantom's daily strip, and like Dick Tracy, I knew, even at seven, I wasn't reading the original version of this classic strip. It was just a feeling, and it wasn't until I was fifteen that I got to see the original comics and art, and I felt cheated.

But I believe in magic. In a young girl's heart.

- trevor.

PCUnfunny said...

Ted: It wasn't just humor lacking in Timm's work, it was the lack of humanity as well. He managed to make some of the villians suprisingly sympathetic as well as Batman/Bruce Wayne in BTAS. I thought Justice League season 2 and onward was good but it can't compete with what he did that first Batman series.

PCUnfunny said...

Jorge: Common sexy, lighten up !

Mitch K said...

Space Ghost never had any underwear! He's still awesome, though.

Rocket Robinhood used to keep a cucumber in his shorts.

Ted said...

There's plenty of humanity laced villains in the Timmverse post-BTAS. Mercy Graves and Bizarro had their complexity in SupermanTAS. Ten in Batman Beyond had layers, and Mr Freeze in BB continued the complexity from BTAS. The whole Hawkgirl thing in Justice League was all about grey. There was a lot less opportunity in Justice League for single villain exploratory stories because of the group based stories, tho. That's a function of it being Justice League instead of Solo Hero Show, and that does affect the kind of stories they can end up doing; when they ended up doing exposition stories, it was on members of the League, not the villains (with a few exceptions, like a Luthor or Amanda Waller episode here and there).

Guy said...

cementimental: You think Americans don't publish comics in other genres? There's little market for comics not in the superhero genre. Just as there's little market in Japan for comics that don't use their couple basic story structures (e.g. their food comics that aren't all that different from their punching comics) and cliches.

Bitter Animator said...

Space Ghost is indeed awesome.

It is kind of funny to have all these adult cartoon fans arguing about the validity of comics and when reading them becomes "retarded".

Anyway, the post and comments has inspired me so my latest superhero creation (and by latest, I mean first) will be up on my blog for ridicule this morning.

But, you know, I'd love to see everyone elses superheroes too.

PCUnfunny said...

Ted; Ten was just a lame excuse to pull a Romeo and Juliet-esque "Capulets vs. Montagues" senario. Mr.Freeze really did not need to appear in BB. He didn't care about anything else after he realized he would never get his wife back again so ressurecting the character was pointless. The whole point of his existense as a super villian was to be re-united with Nora at any cost. I'll will give you Mercy from STAS and Hawkgirl. You got to refresh my memory about Bizarro.

BrineB said...

Love the doodles, pizza, beer and scrawling was a major part of my growing up ... I only had to give up the pizza!!!!

Booo Tooons Ltd. said...

I'm that rare breed of comic nerd that loves every incarnation of Batman.

From the original comics and serials shot in the 40's, to the Bruce Timm cartoons and Christian Bale's films.... love 'em all!

Even if Schumacher's clusterfilm 'Batman and Robin' is on, I can still turn off the sound and stare at Uma Thurman's green cameltoe.

But I love Batman, and I can't remember an incarnation of the character I didn't like in some capacity.

Weird.

- trevor.

cemenTIMental said...

Guy, You think Americans don't publish comics in other genres?
No, I was exaggerating for effect, but they barely do to any real extent. Even a lot of "serious" comics are basically deconstructions of the superhero genre, or comics with the same kind of characterisation, drawing style and structure as a superhero comic. Alternative comics are even less popular than superhero ones. Sure there's some great stuff tho.

There's little market for comics not in the superhero genre.
Yes, that was my point.

Just as there's little market in Japan for comics that don't use their couple basic story structures

Can't really agree with that I'm afraid. Certainly there are generic and formulaic works, and a different kind of visual language often including certain cliches, but the difference in scope between Japanese and American comics is massive.

Western comic people complaining about things they personally dislike in the tiny, non-representative percentage of translated manga they've seen brings to mind one of Jesus' funniest and cartooniest jokes: "How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?"

:) That Jesus, what a card.

Frank Macchia said...

i def agree that superheroes were betetr when that had that sort of naieve charm to them...haha...i agree with john big time...the whoel concept has so much fantasy to it..when they start taking superheroes too seriously it just becomes rediculous..the tounge and cheek nature works best...

"Lance Hunt wears glasses..captain amazing DOESNT wear glasses. theyre two different people!"

"he takes them off when he transformers"

"that doesnt even make sense, he wouldn't be able to see"

Frank Macchia said...

PS john...cheerios man...haha i will never look at that cereal the same way again

HemlockMan said...

Hasn't Alan Moore expressed some regret over creating that whole revisionist superhero wave? Isn't that way he did all of those silly TOM STRONG things? They read like slightly twisted Mort Weisinger-edited yarns.

Guy said...

cementimental:Yes, that was my point.

How are we supposed to create this grand variety when there's little demand for it? Businesses don't publish things that don't sell.

Western comic people complaining about things they personally dislike in the tiny, non-representative percentage of translated manga they've seen brings to mind one of Jesus' funniest and cartooniest jokes: "How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?"

And anime fans like you remind me of Creationism proponents who ignore the real arguments and opinions of their enemies in favor of assaulting their imagined strawman versions.

MDC said...

I have brought this up before, but y'all need to read Dave Sim and cerebus if you want an amazing perspective on the comic book/graphic novel medium!

cemenTIMental said...

Oh sorry I thought we were discussing comics. Not really interested in hearing your inner dialogue with some theoretical "anime fan" bugbear of your own imagining but thanks anyway.

Ted said...

PCU: In STAS, Bizarro was a broken clone of Superman who essentially began falling apart. He meant well, but was used by Luthor (and eventually others), making him tragic (and never really villainous of his own accord). While he was pretty much just a one note gag in Justice League, they kinda used Solomon Grundy in a similar way.

Bill White said...

The Phantom is a great costumed crime-fighter, but not the first. Check out The Scarlet Pimpernel & Zorro. There's also The Shadow, for you kids who don't like them book-thangs.

mce said...

I remember reading that the idea of superheroes wearing underwear came from the original artist's need to produce these comics quickly and clothing with folds etc would slow them down, so they just drew the characters naked and let the colourist add a costume.

Various said...

I take it most of the people who've posted in this thread aren't too keen on Alan Moore's approach to superhero comics (though as someone above mentioned, you might like his Tom Strong), but since Frank Miller's been mentioned a lot, here's Alan Moore doing a dead-on parody of Miller's Daredevil issues.

Elisson said...

Aw, the hell with Batman and Superman...and the Phantom. Wonder Wart Hog...now, that's a Superhero!

Jim Rockford said...

"How did someone come up with the mask that doesn't hide your face, yet no one can recognize you or your voice?

Answer that, smartypantses."

good one!
I think thats a question for Dr.Stupid!

Gerard D. de Souza said...

A leotard would also be what a gymnast or acrobat in the day....so it makes sense if the hero was doing alot of jumping around, running, leaping and swinging.
BTW Leotard was invented and named after Jules Leotard, a French trapeze artist of the 1860s.