So, you know how Moomin is obsessed with Green Lantern though he has never read the comic books? Except for that one horribly lame one of the superfriends where it's like the 80s trying-to-be-PC but failing identity politics issue, where they go to a place and like, Owl Woman is the spirit guide superhero for the superfriends... well, don't get me started! But Moomin is obsessed with the 3600 or more identities of Green Lantern. Somehow Chula and I got on this topic last night and she was going, "And then, there's the amoeba Green Lantern, and the Elf Maiden one, and the Squirrel Green Lantern..." and as she is famous for improvising amazing nonsense I thought she was making it all up. BUT NO. This morning I saw the proof. There really was an issue, in fact I'm afraid more than one, with a squirrel green lantern - with a bow tie and suspenders. I was rolling around with laughter... And she hauled out this issue where the elf maiden and the amoeba and all these other avatars of Green Lantern were having a strategic meeting!!! Unbelieveable! I love thinking of the people sitting around and giggling as they came up with those lame plots... "Hey, I know! let's make G.L. be an amoeba!" "Hahaha, yeah, I fucking dare you..." "Can we get away with making him an elf maiden?" "Hell yeah, why not?" "Cool!"
So I'm in awe of this... Rook and I were talking about long story arcs. And if you think about comics, some have been going for an incredibly long time. & Rook has his theories about new art forms, gaming, etc. and the history of film & how film criticism was at first respecting only films that were the most like "great literature" or at least like books that were vaguely respected. Actually I think this might have been from ideas by Robin Laws... from that book... i'm too lazy to look it up. Charging forward, what I want to say is that while I enjoy some graphic novels, they are not the pinnacle of the comics art form. right? And probably someone else is writing about this or already has, but I realized how amazing it is to have storylines that are continuous for decades. It means you have to push the narrative... and sometimes it might get pushed right into a squirrel and an amoeba, i.e. possibly too far, but that's so cool! What else happens? I feel a sudden urge to read giant stacks of comic books and find out. For one thing -- what other stories, what other continuous narratives, are there? myths and legends, right? Characters with superpowers, gods, tricksters... and different people take those characters and tell the stories... Er, I'm embarrassed to say all this because I know it's not a new thought -- and yet to me it was a giant brainwave about the meaning of comic books and superheroes. Rook knows about the golden age and the silver age, etc. just as Chula does... I'd like to take a superhero and read everything written about them... for one thing, you get this base of people, of fans/readers, who believe they know who that character is. And the authors of the comic books then have to expand and push the character & narrative without violating that belief - it is a way of pushing a sort of social contract (and then... it gets violated, like with the Squirrel Green Lantern, which Chula informs me G. Jones who wrote the excellent book "Killing Monsters" finally brought into an episode so that he could make him get run over by a truck, and everyone cheered.)
So, that dynamic too makes it seem like a shame that "the comics industry", stores, etc. in the U.S. have this aging somewhat stagnant and all male fan base. so obviously you have manga & anime coming in now on top of that... I wonder what will happen. & fanfic as well . Hmm, again these are not quite new thoughts to me or anyone else and I'm babbling... I could possibly have something to say about this if I kept reading & thinking about it.
In the comic book store today I was like... "Hmm. that guy is way nicer. I feel all cosy in here." And remarked on it to Chula that he must be in a good mood lately, or maybe warmed up to me after I bought something, or got used to me? Because he used to be such an asshole I didn't want to be in the store! And... joke's on me, it's actually a DIFFERENT GUY. Like I can tell big hairy bearded guys apart when they are behind the comic book counter? Sheesh.
But it's the other possibilities I love more -- the long story arcs and the belief in character, the belief you KNOW the character - and then something amazingly touching and meaningful happens, something that works on different levels of metaphor & meaning - the character faces a decision or is entangled in complexity that would take a year to explain - and that DID take a year to explain. That's the beauty of the form!