Thursday, December 18, 2014

Of Comics and Cosplay

Of Comics and Cosplay
by rick olivares

In an article on the comics news site Bleeding Cool last December 4, artist Pat Broderick, who made a name for himself penciling The Micronauts, Fury of Firestorm, and Captain Atom among others, is back after a two decade hiatus. Aside from his still undisclosed project with DC Comics, Broderick madethe comics newswires and fan fora when he took a shot at Cosplayers.

“You (Cosplayers) bring nothing of value to the shows (Comic Book Conventions),” fired Broderick in his Facebook post. “And if you’re a promoter pushing cosplay as your main attraction you’re not helping the industry or comics market. Thank you.”

Continuing his diatribe, Broderick railed on, “Cosplay are just selfies in costume, and doing multiple selfies is about the highest form of narcissism.”

I think that the world has passed Broderick by. The comic industry in the 1990s was like the dotcom frenzy – it got massively big then burst. It was filled with speculators and faux fans who drove up prices. The success of comic book films has changed the industry. It’s now the films or even the television series that drive the books. Who would have thought that the film version of Hawkeye got it more than any other comic book writer or artist ever did? How about Arrow? As a fan of Green Arrow, I’d say that the three incidents singularly responsible for any changes in the character are Neal Adams, Mike Grell, and the television series.

Manga and anime have also an effect on American comic books. Whilce Portacio and Jim Lee brought in that style and sensibility to mainstream American comic books.

The toy line has also had a life of its own. There are all sorts of Spider-Man toys and designs.

As for Cosplay – I think its great! Sure not every Cosplayer buys comic books. Do you think that all those who like the comic book films and television series also pick up the comic books? No, they don’t. And I know people who belong to these categories. I once thought that cartoon fan + toy fan + film buff = comic book fan. Sadly, it’s not that way. There are also comic creators who don’t even buy books off the shelves!

It is well documented that the success of The Walking Dead has brought in new fans allowing the Image title to become a bestseller. Yet conversely, there are a lot of people who do not buy the book. And I understand. The television series is far far more superior to the book.

And do you ever get the feeling that today’s comic book convention is all about the films and television shows and less about the comics? The joke is DC and Marvel are into superhero films and shows… and occasionally, they make comic books.

Having said all of that, I can’t believe that there’s discrimination in geek-land. This backlash is bigger than the Star Wars versus Star Trek debate. Or even Marvel versus DC.

Back in the 1980s even up to the mid-1990s, comic books fans were treated as weirdos. This was a time when it wasn’t cool to be considered a geek. You didn’t read comics in public because folks felt you were an overgrown kid who read “the funnies’ or “kidstuff.

I think what Cosplayers do is they also add interest to the medium. Just as the films, television shows, and toys.

Come on, Pat. Aside from old-timers like me who grew up reading comics first in the 1970s and have continued that passion up to today? The sad truth is many people do not know the creators of yesterday. Maybe that is why you feel left out and no one crowds your table. Dude, they tried reviving Micronauts but it didn’t work. Maybe they should put Jim Lee on the book because he’s the only crossover star artist from the 1990s who remains a certified bestseller to this day (unless Alex Ross decides to do more than cover art). The ones with staying power through the years have been the writers like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, and Kurt Busiek to name a select few.

I feel like a dinosaur because to this day I proclaim my love for Nexus, anything that the late Dave Stevens ever did, the Ken Steacy stuff from Astro Boy to the Sacred and Profane, those old Epic Illustrated issues, the pre-Crisis DC stories, my Roger Stern Amazing Spider-Mans, and your Micronauts along with those early issues by the great Michael Golden (I have the complete Marvel run).

I love how the medium is generally accepted today. I have to admit there are times when I want to roll my eyes in disgust when I hear young kids get it all wrong when discussing comic books inside comic book specialty shops. But I realize that I cannot foist my views or thoughts on them. They will either discover it for themselves or not.

Back to the comics medium, I love how it has crossed over into a lot of facets of life today. Cosplay, like gaming, toys, film and TV (including the indie versions), add color to the comic book industry. The cool thing about the scene is, there’s even more room for a lot of other people. And if you’re feeling like a man out of time, well, there’s that room in the convention center that reserved for the legends.

Author’s note: As for artist Mike Wolfer who chimed in his disgust by saying, “I hear you, Pat. I ignore invites that proclaim, “HUGE COSPLAY CONTEST (and oh yeah, Stan Lee).” You know, Mike. When comic book history will be written, you will be lucky even if you merit a footnote or mention. While Stan the Man will have more than a chapter on what he has given. There are way too many bitter folks around.

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