Film adaptations can kill the comic book stigma

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

March 16, 2007 Ed Cartoon

In recent years several famous comic books, including the Frank Miller graphic novels 300 and Sin City, have been made into Hollywood films.

While the films’ quality has varied, their creation has caused some critics to question the validity of interpreting comic books into film. Unlike famous literary works like Romeo and Juliet or To Kill a Mockingbird, comic books are often stigmatized, considered a juvenile art form due to their highly visual nature.

Now that Hollywood has the technical resources to capture the essence of comic books onscreen, comics will receive more media and societal exposure than ever.

Not only does this let individuals enjoy comic books on a more captive medium, it also may inspire people to read the original versions who never would have done so before.

With graphic novels’ increased exposure via film, comic aficionados may be upset by the interpretation of their favourite storylines.

Though some plots may be altered for dramatic effect, such is inevitable when compressing any storyline into film. The process is no different for graphic novels than for any form of literature.

If anything, discussion surrounding the interpretation of a given comic book can be beneficial for deciphering its original meaning or purpose.

Adapting graphic novels or comics for film raises the question of their validity compared to other literature.

Your Grade 9 English teacher likely never would’ve let you write a book report on Spider-Man, claiming it has no pedagogical value.

Similarly, a university Shakespeare course would never be dubbed a “bird” course, while anyone taking a comic book class likely faces scrutiny from peers.

It’s important to recognize that while many comics aren’t credible, many books and films aren’t either and, like any literary form, many comics have legitimate artistic merit. Graphic novels like Watchmen and Maus provide insightful critique on society and are as thought-provoking as any novel.

With better interpretations of graphic novels on film, comics’ modern stereotypes can be broken and they will become less stigmatized.

The high-profile film adaptations can also help us realize the importance of comics and recognize their uniqueness among other art forms.

While they have somewhat of a niche readership now, with greater exposure on film and in the media comic books may someday become widely legitimized art placed on the same pedestal as any other literature.

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