Comic books as a trend... Once again

You know, the times... They are a-changing.

I never, ever thought I'd see the day that The Watchmen would be talked about in any regard on USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, or MTV. And I certainly never thought I'd see it on Access Hollywood. And of course, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk and Sin City and 300 have gotten all sorts of critical acclaim in the past 2 years. And as a comic fan of over 20 years, I'm supposed to be absolutely overjoyed - comics have finally arrived, right?

Well, no. It's not a banner day for me. It's not a banner day for most comic book fans, in fact.

Sorry to piss on the parade, but I'm not one of those who feel that comics have finally arrived. They haven't. They're a trend again, much like they were when the Superman movies first came out in the 80's, and again when Batman came out in 1990. Dave Sim said it best back when Tim Burton made over Batman - comics haven't arrived, Hollywood is just cannibalizing them for material.

Comics are becoming en vogue again, much like they did when Batman came out - and they're enjoying a tremendous boost in sales. But that's not because the general populace has finally figured out that comics are more than just doodles and kids toys. It's because they've become kitch. You're hip if you read The Watchmen before you saw The Watchmen. You're awesome when you wear a Rorschach or Comedian or Silk Spectre costume this past Halloween.

I've gotten on my little high horse about frat boys and society girls going on and on about 300, and how hard it was (and still is) for me to swallow since I spent my entire childhood and young adulthood suffering the slings and arrows of those who disrespected comics as things for kids, only to go apeshit over this latest spate of comic-property-based films and chasing down the source material. There is an entire empty bookshelf in my library where all my Sin City, 300, The Dark Knight Returns, Akira and other comic collections used to be. They're all on loan to people I know who never "got" comics - people who I've been passionately trying to convert to this storytelling medium for years.

This should make me happy. I know this.

But it doesn't. Instead, it makes me feel angry - like they couldn't just listen to me when I told them how wonderful these stories are. They needed society to tell them it was okay to check them out. And even now, they don't bounce from one great story into another - they only read the material directly related to the movie they just saw (or will see soon). They don't want to read The Long Halloween because The Dark Knight Returns was fantastic - they want to read it because they heard that "The Dark Knight" movie was based loosely on it.

Comics haven't arrived. They're just being treated like the belle of the ball for now. And soon, midnight will strike, and Hollywood will find something else to cannibalize, and the trend will be over... Will there be converts who stick with the medium? Sure. Every comic fan starts somewhere, and why not here? But will the droves of people who have made The Watchmen a bestseller once again be around?

Don't bet on it.