RARA-AVIS: Super Heroes, Comics, and Noir

From: Mark Finn (markfinn@texas.net)
Date: 24 Jul 2008

  • Next message: davezeltserman: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Super Heroes, Comics, and Noir"

    I usually lurk on this list, and do so because I enjoy the back-and-forth so much, but I really need to weigh-in on a few things said here of late.

    I personally know several of you folks on this list, and so please treat what I'm about to say as if we're at a hotel bar somewhere and I've just ordered what is about to be considered "one too many:"

    I think that the idea that a super hero story can't be noir simply because it's a super hero story is one of the most intellectually retarded things I've read in a long time. There's enough grief, loss, and ruin in The Dark Knight to give Cornell Woolrich geek-wood, and that's saying something. I would hate to think that someone on THIS List, of all yahoo groups, would be talking out of their ass, having not seen The Dark Knight, and perhaps worse, subscribing some archaic and 20 years out of date definition of "what comics are" in contributing to this discussion.

    Comics are a story telling medium. That's it. You can do anything with comics that you can do with movies or books. That the most prevalent story being told in comics is the super hero urban fantasy is beside the point. There are hundreds of examples of comics being just the medium to a story that doesn't have capes or people shooting lasers out of their eyes. If you're defining comics as Super Heroes only, you're doing it wrong. Personally, I can't wait for Cooke's Parker graphic novels. Talk about the right guy for the job. Can't wait.

    Noir, or the idea of noir, is literary convention, in my opinion. The downer ending. The death, the tragedy, the sense of gothic gloom, and above all, the sense of inescapable inevitability to it all. We are NOT in control. Bad stuff happens. That, to me, is the essence of noir writing and film noir.

    Your own definition may vary, but the fact is, you can apply that style-sheet to just about anything. Even comics. Even super heroes. That no one does this regularly doesn't mean that it can't be done, or hasn't been tried (Watchmen almost succeeds in this respect). Sin City may be third rate Spillane, but it manages to skirt the edge a few times. There's lots of examples of genre-bending, particularly in the last 30 years.

    Okay, I'm done. Sorry for the blurt-in, here, but the above just needed to be said.

    Mark Finn

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 24 Jul 2008 EDT