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

From: Sean Shapiro (
Date: 24 Jul 2008

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

    I like your definition of noir -- it's what gives your books their muscle.

    Dressing up like an animal so you can get your rocks off beating criminals up is not exactly resisting your baser instincts. Especially when it gets a sidekick crippled and another killed.

    ----- Original Message ---- From: davezeltserman <> To: Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 5:27:28 PM Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: 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 and 20 years out of date definition of "what comics are" in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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