It's now upon us: the nationally recognized holiday celebrating the spirit of cooperation between Pilgrims and Indians which turned out to be a catastrophic lie – I mean the giving of thanks to whoever it is we believe we should thank for the wonderful things we have in our lives. So let's take a little stock here in the Comics section of Crave Online.
Reading comic books every week of the year, picking them apart and over-or-under-analyzing them at will, it's very easy to get desensitized to the fantastic things about the medium. We harangue particular artists we loathe or writers who frustrate us, or spew vitriol about questionable character choices and clunky storytelling, yadda yadda. It's far too common to get caught up in that negative energy and forget about why we're even bothering to keep up with this industry. That's why it's good to stop, sit up, take a breath, and think about all the things we're thankful for in comics.
This list is, of course, not comprehensive. We'd be here for days mentioning every kickass moment that ever happened, like Doom 2099 blowing people away with a shotgun, or that time Superman stood in solidarity with Iranian protestors against their tyrannical government. But to get you in the ruminatin' mood, here's a quick-six list of things to appreciate about funnybooks.
6: ROBOTS AND MONKEYS
Technologically superior automatons and highly-intelligent super apes. Clunky metal giants of doom and French gorillas with machine guns. Computers with legs and monkeys with vocabularies. Agents of Atlas featuring M-11 The Human Robot running down a hallway carrying Gorilla Man Ken Hale who is firing machine guns he's holding in both hands and both feet. You will not see this kind of thing anywhere else than comics.
Without comic books keeping them in vogue and constantly showing us how cool they can look, the cape might be just as antiquated and forgotten as the powdered wig by now. That's probably why the word 'cape' is often used in various comic universes as a slang term synonymous with 'super-hero.'
Capes make the hero more impressive and the villain more imposing. Capes are awesome. Everybody should wear them.
Okay. Maybe not everybody.
4. THE RAINBOW MAKES EVERYTHING LOVELY
The real world wants you to tone it down and behave and not cause any fuss. In comic books, you can be as loud and as colorful as you want. Comic books share your absolute amazement at the sight of a double rainbow. You're allowed to like pink. You can go to plaid. You can truck in shadowy darkness or bathe in the brightest of lights. If you want to create a purple-skinned person who can harness the emotional power of the color of indigo, go right ahead. There's a skin tone for every color in the spectrum, and maybe that can show us a thing or two about how stupid racism is.
Nobody told Ian Churchill to tone it down when creating Imperiex. Even if maybe they should have. Or perhaps he was intended to be the mightiest of clowns.
3. ABSOLUTELY NO LIMIT TO THE IMAGINATION
From highly-evolved dolphin cities to unexplainable cosmic entities with heads shaped like pitchers, there's absolutely no limit to what an artist can imagine in comic book form. There are no budget constraints, no practical effects to worry about. If you can conceive it in a detailed-enough form to render in a drawing, you can put it in a comic book. The most you'll get is some editor telling you to tone it down a bit, but that guy doesn't have a leg to stand on when you point him to the cracklin'-dot interstellar madness busted out by the hallowed originators of the industry like Jack Kirby.
For all the acclaim given to the grim and gritty realism incorporated in comics, it's the batshit insane and intricately detailed brain-breaking meaning-of-life explorations of outer space, innerspace and the space between that constantly push the edges of what this art form is capable of. It's a goddamned amazing thing.
1. COMIC BOOKS STILL EXIST
As we inch ever closer to the inevitable demise of the single-issue comic book that has been the core of the industry since its inception in favor of trade paperbacks and digital copies, let's take a moment this year to be thankful for the fact that comic books exist at all.
They've had so many threats to their very existence since the beginning, be it parents' groups, government censors or greedy speculators, but they've managed to survive long enough to witness the very medium which birthed them change into something new. Imaginative stories with beautiful artwork detailing compelling ideas in cool genres – who'da thunk that would stand the test of time?
Comic books provide noble role models for children, dark and moody violence for teenagers, hip yet emotional underground independence for college kids, thought-provoking complexities for adults and wistfully fun nostalgia for the aging – not to mention the creative expression for the artists involved. They can be absolutely beautiful masterpieces in the best of times, and that's what we're focusing on here. The best that comics can be.
Let's try to remember to never let the bad eggs ruin our perception of the wonderful art form we love.