They Fired All the Hollywood Writers, And Then This Happened…

So, I have been noticing a trend over the past few years. Seems like, more and more, Hollywood has been taking a back seat to other players getting into the film industry. Lately this seems to be dominated by players from the comics and video game arenas, not to mention our favorite cinematographers such as Peter Jackson & Guillermo Del Toro, who are big enough that they can pretty much pick whoever else they want to work with. (Lucky dudes!) Now, this brings some interesting changes to the table. On the one hand, you have instant masterpieces such as Sin City or The Watchmen, that have helped set the new standard for “comic book movies” and generate an expanded fan base. Seems like a sweet deal: Greater credibility & visibility for an historically marginalized art form, cross promotion from movies to books or memorabilia, an automatic target audience already in place, jobs for writers and artists, etc. What could possibly go wrong? Well, perhaps this: Planet Hulk Movie Now, don’t get me wrong. I watched this all the way through, and found it entertaining. There were more than a few “awesome!” Moments & times when I laughed my butt off. But, as epic and complex as this movie was, as much as I loved the Edgar Rice Burroughs style vintage backdrops, I can’t say this was a good movie. In fact, it was kind of painful to sit through at times, too. It may or may not accurately reflect the Planet Hulk comics, about which I am sadly ignorant. But I don’t need to read those to form am opinion on whether this movie was a good idea and/or well developed. See, I am getting concerned, now, more than excited, about the speed and volume with which new comic movies & the like are being produced. I’ve spent the past few years getting to know people in the field, go to cons, listen & learn. And I know that the “big guys” (aka Marvel & DC) are becoming market giants, even to the extent that formerly mostly independent Dark Horse has been getting on the bandwagon big time. (Try having any conversation with Scott Allie and you may start to see what I mean.) I care about comics, graphic novels, and SF and genre writing. It’s my world, it’s what I’ve grown up with, and what I aspire to continue giving back to. And I suspect that the comics industry will be going the way of Hollywood all too soon. Getting too big, relying too much on selling us the same product over again in a hundred different formats, short changing quality and legacy for the worst kind of exploitation of employees and talent, etc. You think there’s not already a precedent for that? Walt Disney’s whole career was founded on this kind of thing. And continues to make him money long after he’s died. Are we going to really see a shift to all 3D or cell animation formats because it’s cheaper to hire a bunch of wage slaves in a boiler room to churn out yet another Superman or Spiderman movie, than to take the time and effort to produce something in real life? Are we going to see our vast world of media possibilities shrink down to only a few top players with name recognition because it’s cheaper and easier to feed audiences the same Geek Kibble than to take a risk on any of the hundreds of new scripts, stories and indie comic series being developed each year, by truly talented creatives? And where in the hell is that Sandman feature movie yet?!? Please, graphic narrative industry, don’t do this to us, your loyal readership. We’ve faithfully kept you in business since you were a bunch of cheap printed pages sold in the back of the local soda fountain. We’re not stupid. And we deserve better than that. Discourse welcome on this one…

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