Good article in the NYT, “Imax? Try a Cosmos Between Covers: From the Printed Comic to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.” Dana Jennings suggests, “… comic books are usually better than the movies. Much better.”
The exquisite thing about the page is that comic books are both a reading experience and a lesson in art appreciation. The reader can pause, ponder what she’s just read; the art lover can stop, gaze in wonder at a stunning full-page spread. There’s more Bergman-like introspection in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Silver Surfer roaming the cosmos than in any comics movie.
Most comic book films just don’t leave room for the viewer. They’re a blitz: Each frame is crammed pandemonium — exploding androids, cartwheeling bodies, cascading skyscrapers — all pumped up by quasi-operatic music, Wagner draped in superhero drag. The dazed viewer is left spluttering: “Wow! What was that?!”
Reading an original story is a lot more open than watching an interpretation of said story. The reader is allowed to see it as only he can imagine it and the story doesn’t have to be compromised because of a budget. As Dana mentions, there’s also the art. Jack Kirby, Frank Miller… reminds me of my old friend Jamie. I used to watch him trace comic books in an effort to learn how these artists were able to depict a particular scene, mood, and message. We were both kids fascinated with stories of the unimaginable, the physiques and strangeness of beings both good and evil, and the interpretations we’d share over a bologna, salami, and Miracle Whip on Wonder Bread sandwich when we’d finish reading the same issue. Half-chewed fragments would usually be spat at each other in an effort to talk first when a particular story would pit two characters or teams against each other for the first time (or when they combined efforts). A lot of young’ns won’t realize how much history and storyline are behind today’s visual and audio blowouts. Film budgets and attention-spans for films won’t allow for it. The X-Men films, for example, fails the Jean story. It’s complex and one that is really only suited for reading. Let’s be honest, film franchises can only succeed, on average, with a series of about 3-6 films (I propose by the third movie, people are pretty much done for good). Many comic series number in the hundreds…