Monday, 10 September 2012

Poul Anderson On Comics

Poul Anderson wrote many works of fiction in prose but not in the visual media of cinema or comic books. I have found three references to comics in his novels.

(i) In There Will Be Time, time traveller Jack Havig comments that, despite Superman's telephone kiosk, the most convenient place in a modern city for a time traveller to disappear is a public toilet cubicle.

Greek dramatists sometimes commented on and corrected errors or implausibilities in the works of their predecessors. In this vein, in the first Superman film, Clark Kent, responding to an emergency, approaches a public telephone that is not even enclosed in a kiosk, realises that it would afford him no privacy for a costume change and instead uses a revolving door at super speed.

Thus, the film, like Anderson, commented on a familiar scene from earlier Superman comics.

(ii) In Operation Luna (New York, 2000), Steve Matuchek remarks:

"It's only comic-book heroes and their ilk who bounce directly from one brush with death to the next, wisecracking along the way. Real humans react to such things." (pp. 158-159)

Yes, real humans in real life and in realistically written novels or comics. There is nothing in the latter medium that obliges that it be written unrealistically.

(iii) Matuchek also speaks against vigilantism even if conducted in "...comic-book costumes" (p. 140). Right. Again, comics comment on earlier comics. Frank Miller's Batman is a vigilante wanted for assault, breaking and entering, child endangerment and, when the Joker's dead body has been found, murder. In Alan Moore's Watchmen, the public demonstrates and the police strike ("Badges, not Masks") until anonymous vigilantism is banned. In Garth Ennis' The Boys, superheroes are untrained and get a lot of people killed on 9/11. So the critique of comic book implausibilities is conducted in comics.

I would like to see high quality film and graphic adaptations of Anderson's works.

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