Thursday, September 08, 2005

Astounding Stories vs Animal Man

This is interesting because of the similarity in the displayed characters. The costume and physical manifestation of the Nowhere Man from DC's Animal Man bears a superficial resemblance to the Pulp character. Unlike the earlier Invisible Man entry, it is probably just a coincidence. At least I hope it is.

That the superficial concepts are similar might say something about why some people do not consider comics a valid literature medium and that many ideas are either recycled, cliched or hack-work. It is more likely the old saying that there is no such thing as an original idea is true.

That has connotations for comics I don't care for, in that if a comic gives us something that is today considered groundbreaking, is later revealed as a 50 year old cliche that was long ago dismissed as a puerile example of the medium.

The pulps received absolutely no respect when they were in their heyday and were considered the nadir of the literature medium. For years comics also labored under the same lack of respect, only relatively recently emerging as a valid medium. For those of you that don't agree with that comment and believe comics were long ago considered valid and mainstream, just think about how even hard-core fans treat the objects of their own fascination, then apply that to a person ignorant of the comics culture.

What bothers me about people's perception of popular media such as the pulps or comics is that in many ways it is still considered a 'juvenile' market. I think that insults the young readers though. I am still betting the next article to hit a major article will have the tired "Comics not just for kids anymore" line somewhere in it and a shows a very poor attitude about the genre and a lack of knowledge.

My wife despises comics and will not evolve past the idea that they are for children, and not very bright ones at that. I can see her point at least in part. But her perception, like much of the public, I think comes from long exposure to the worst examples of pop-culture produced by those that have a general contempt for their audience. These creators pander to the lowest common denominator and produce dross that is only motivated by sales and not art. This is shown in titles like most of 90's Image and some of the ones that Dave's Long Box recently profiled in his Boob Wars essays.

For every Miller DKR there are a hundred DKR2's*. Capt. Stacy and Jarella both dying in the same fashion months apart from each other is also an example of creator contempt for a reader. Until companies, not so much the creators who often get limits set on them by the marketing realities, quit treating the medium as if it is unable to grow beyond it's origins it will always remain so.

* I liked both by the way. If DKR2 was published a bit closer to DKR, it would have been accepted by more fans and seemed less quaint and conceptually dated. I had to work at accepting the Max Headroom Reagan-era themes of DKR2 that other readers did not try or care to connect with.



  1. It's purely a guess, since I haven't read either the Astounding or the Animal Man, but if Milligan lifted the idea from anywhere, my guess would be Judge Dredd, which once had a story where someone had jigsaw disease that caused them to vanish into another dimension a piece at a time.

    Milligan worked for 2000ad who published the Dredd story, so it's hard to believe he wasn't aware of it. Where the Dredd story came from is another matter...

  2. Good reference, Mari.

    Yeah, I don't think he lifted it from the pulp either. I just like comparing the "old" ideas to the "new" ones.

    The Strange Adventures/Invisible Man one was an obvious rip. Hamilton worked in Pulps for years before comics.

    Hey, you like that vintage WW ad I sent? Or did the comp problem erase it.

    My word verification sounds like intestinal trouble noise...


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