RARA-AVIS: Re: Super Heroes, Comics, and Noir

From: davezeltserman (davezelt@rcn.com)
Date: 24 Jul 2008

  • Next message: Mark R. Harris: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Super Heroes, Comics, and Noir"

    I'm not disagreeing that comic books can't be noir, but I think there's a BIG difference between (tragedy, gothic gloom, darkness) and noir. Tragedy can involve a heroic act or simply inevitability. My definition of noir involves a damning, a character giving into his baser instincts and weaknesses and dooming himself either psychically or physically. I look at The Dark Night (a movie that I thought was great) as more of a tragedy. Batman/Bruce Wayne may feel conflicted, but his motivations are still to do what he feels is the right thing, and ultimately he sacrifices a large part of himself for what he feels is the common good. You don't typically see self-sacrifice in noir.

    --Dave Z.

    -- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Mark Finn" <markfinn@...> wrote:
    > 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 and 20 years out of date definition of "what comics are" in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

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