3.11.2007

It's opening weekend for the brand new "Comovie" '300.'

Everyone who knows me has found time to write, call or IM me and ask what I think about it. And I find this very, very odd, because of everyone I know, only about two of them had any idea there was a story called '300' before they heard the movie was coming out, and that it was another one of "that Sin City guy's movies, so yeah, I'll see it."

And yes, on past movies of this nature - movies derived from licences in the comic book world - I'd have seen it at midnight on opening day, excited beyond belief to see yet another story or character or concept I cared a great deal about throughout the years get a budget and some time dedicated to it.

But for this one... I dunno. Something's different.

It's not different in the realm of the movie or the comic themselves this time around. This time, something inside of me has kinda snapped. It's been a long time coming... It's not a new wrinkle in my brain or anything. It's just that this particular movie has kind of forced the issue for me.

When I was growing up, I knew a bunch of kids who were into a bunch of things. I had musician friends, painter friends, writer friends, acting friends, photographer friends... All nerds, the lot of us. We were all teased in varying degrees of severity by my jock 'friends' - the guys who had more muscle mass (or at the very least testosterone) than sense (I only call them 'friends' because I'm not near a thesaurus at the moment, so I can't find another word to describe a collective group of people identified by a group of traits who did not beat my ass as a kid. If you didn't beat my ass, you were instantly a 'friend').

And among ALL of the people I knew, only three others were into comic books and graphic novels. Now, that's not to say we were an elite group of people who knew things that the others didn't. Comics aren't an especially exclusive medium for people to enjoy and appreciate. Just the opposite, in fact - it's only in the past, say, 15 years that comics have even had an adult demographic who would indulge in them.

I believe it was Neil Gaiman (it may have been Will Eisner or Dave Sim) who said you can write words and its considered 'literature,' and you can draw pictures and it can be considered 'art', but when you combine the two, people look at it as a child's medium. And when I was growing up, that's exactly what these people thought of me - I was a big child for reading "funnybooks." Even the artists I'd surrounded myself with in High School looked down on this art form - they never respected me for wanting to write and draw comics. It was a lesser art form. It had no respect for indulging in a medium I adored... One that, arguably, required double or triple the talents of any one of the other disciplines by it's very nature. You had to be able to draw AND write... And sometimes paint.

But then, the deluge of films began.

It really started with Tim Burton's Batman (I don't count Superman, simply because Superman existed in so many varying forms before the Christopher Reeve movies - TV shows, newspaper strips, comics, etc. - And I know that Batman did, too, but the Batman Tim Burton made was based almost entirely on the reconstructed Batman created by Frank Miller in "Batman - Year One" and "The Dark Night Returns" - He wasn't the grey-and-yellow Adam West Batman with campy "POW!" and "ZOOM!" graphics. He was dark and rough, which made him a direct translation of the graphic novel... Wow, this is a long aside).

After Batman, there were suddenly people wearing these shirts and hats and shoes with the logo of a comic character. Like, REGULAR people. Non-nerds. Cool kids.

He wasn't "ours" anymore.

But that was a fluke, right? It didn't last long. Eventually, they returned to their Bugle Boy jeans or whatever and left the comics world back to us misfits among misfits. Batman fell back into the folds of the comic book nerds and all was alright again. A few other movies were attempted, but none broke out into the mainstream the way Batman did... Not for a while, anyway.

But there was the cartoons. The Tick. X-men Adventures. The New Legion of Justice. The New Avengers. Wolverine.

The ironically cool kids came back around to these long-lost properties and began to discuss them again. The Tick was being quoted all over the damn place... But you ask anyone who was quoting if they ever read the original Ben Edlund stuff, and the answer was absolutely the same each and every time: "Who?"

And then, the X-men Movie came out. And Spiderman. And Daredevil. And Fantastic Four. And The Hulk. And League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And people watched.

Now, this is not the point here - I'm not upset that comic properties went "mainstream" or whatever - I personally feel that anything that might lead to people working their way "backward" from the film and into the original source material meant that more people would discover what I'd known for so long - comics ROCK. They're a fantastic medium for telling a story, and there's quite a collection of material out there that appeals to both the young AND adult audience.

But that's not what happened. These films were enjoyed, and the characters lauded... And a few comic books were sold, but still, the medium of comics - the originators of this material they just went on and on and on about, were still kid's stuff.

So then, the nowhere-near-childish stuff arrived in theaters. "A History of Violence" came out. And Sin City. And now, 300.

And there are people who are eagerly looking forward to each and every one of these releases - and they're NOT checking backward to see where it all came from. Sure, some of them are buying the collected works in Barnes & Noble, but they aren't exploring backward from there. They're not tracing this material out. They're buying it much they same way they buy a program at a Broadway play or a hockey game. It's a souvenir of the movie.

And even THAT doesn't upset me. I don't care that these people are too lazy to research the material they profess to love.

No.

What upsets me is that the very people who have spent YEARS ridiculing me for loving comics and the medium of comics are now eager and excited about every single release based on those things they made fun of. They're going nuts over the idea of a new Sin City. They can't wait to see this "venom" guy in Spiderman 3. They think the rendering of the Silver Surfer in the new Fantastic Four looks COOL AS FUCK.

Musicians. Film guys. Painters. Even the jocks. They are calling me, emailing me and IM'ing me asking me if I've seen a movie they've been so stoked about and enjoyed so much that is based on a comic book (well, one of six) that they literally pointed at WHILE I WAS READING IT and called "kid's stuff."

For some reason, because it has 70 million dollars behind it, has a soundtrack incorporating some of Trent Reznor's older stuff (and don't even get me started on THAT), and has made the leap to film, it's respectable. Nevermind that the story you just paid $9.95 to watch move in front of you was told 10 years ago in a format that incorporated painting and expressive dialogue, written for adults specifically.

No. It has to be projected from a lamp in the back of a theater to be respected.

So, all of that being said, I'm really finding it hard to motivate myself to go and see the film. And that sucks - I was so excited about its arrival. I really wanted to see what they'd do with Lynn Varney's visuals and Frank Miller's story. But that desire has kind of faded from me... I can't truly explain why much more than I have in this insanely long post. But I feel like some sort of breaking point has been reached inside me.

Maybe I just need a stiff drink and a massage or something.