Adapt Or Die - Fashionable Graphic Novels Proceed To Thrive In The New Century

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Graphic novels and comics have been read by millions for over seventy years. In the twenty-first century can be different since its inception nearly a century ago. As the kids of the 50s and 60s grew older, they continued to hold the interest in comics and graphic novels and so the characters grew with them. The villains are more villainous, the superheroes are more powerful and the relationship between the two has evolved.

Comics in this day and age appear to have much more complex storylines. Plot lines and subplots have become more intricate and fascinating as they interconnect between various comics series. This new level of sophistication have drawn the attention of Hollywood as more graphic novels are snapped up an adapted for motion pictures. Comics and non-comics fans alike are constantly turning to the movie adaptations with eager anticipation.

For years I have railed against the absolute ignorance of writers, directors and designers who felt they knew how to adapt comics to the screen. For some it is a matter of technology; it was not easy translating the unique fantasy and storytelling medium to celluloid. Comic books in the twenty-first century allows readers to read and conceptualize the story, then watch the big screen to see if the writer and director had the same perception as you did. Having worked in the comics field as well as film and television, I was well aware of the boundaries and limitations placed on creative talent but I knew that a great many did not understand what they had.

Over the last decade, we've watched heroes fall or lose their moral compass. The demise doesn't usually last long by human standards, but in a comic book's life, years could have transpired. Like a good Stephen Spielberg film, these creators know how to pull the right strings that cause you to feel for the characters they're about to sacrifice. You feel cheated. The bad guy may have gotten away in spite of the determination of the fallen heroes comrades. The heroes knew what they were getting into when they donned their costume, and the realism displayed on the pages suggests the artist and writers were attentive too. On occasion you may even feel you were present when the incident occurred. If someone was injured, either a scar or another feature was incorporated within the next comic book.
The costumes changed as well, the garish colors of tight spandex began to give way to the paramilitary tones and designs.

Unlike actors, comic book characters are ageless; they only grow old when it suits the writer. Quite often the characters look and feel is updated to conform to popular sentiment; the influence of blockbuster versions of themselves in the theaters will influence the editors and artists at the company. Perhaps another artist took the reins of the hero or villain. Maybe an update was needed because some of his or hers costume or hairstyle looked out of place, or do not reflect, today's styles or trends. In fact, it is difficult to recognize some of the classic characters if you're just reentering the comic book market after a decade or two.

The medium have always managed to weather the storm of criticism neglect or even greed and politics. Updating the look and storylines of comic book characters keeps the industry fresh and exciting while attracting new readers. I continue to read comics for those very reasons and will probably continue for decades to come. I had been enthralled as a young boy reading comic books in my bed. The material is every bit as captivating now that I'm an adult as they were back in the day of Bazooka bubblegum and Keds sneakers. The content and looks may have changed but the messages are still the same.

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