Monday, May 07, 2012

Upping The Ante

The latest cinematographical adaptation of a not-quite-literary work has hit the big screens with much fanfare and hoopla all across the globe and, finally, in America too - and I completely forgot to give it a second thought, even... Aye, we are talking about the Avengers; the four-color ones, not Mrs. Peel & Steed... 

However, since everyone and their cousin is talking about them, it's enough of an excuse for us, here, on the Literati Blog, to devote yet another post to this so-called sequential art and all of its insidious ramifications all over the place: and, so, here we go again! 

On the heels of this latest film release, and, perhaps, as some sort of harbinger of doom (an umpteenth one) for the genre, May 5th saw another edition of what is an annual event now for all comic-book aficionados out there - all thirteen of them that are left. It is a testament to the resilience of this dying breed that they succeeded in superseding the meaning of Cinco de Mayo with their very own fabricated event: Free Comic Book Day. And since everyone loves a freebie, this one succeeds in brilliant fashion indeed in bringing back, be it for just that one single day, customers that have seldom been at the comic-book shops in recent times (those shops that still exist, somehow) or those who have never been there in their lifetime...!  Never underestimate the power of the freebie! It is up to those comic-book-guys, then (the shop owners and employees, on the first wave, but most meaningfully, the creators and publishers of the stuff) to make it count when they actually have an increased audience or an audience at all: and sell multiple copies of their other publications, non-participants in the FREE comic-book day event...! Because you know it well: when anyone is reduced to giving anything away like this, it is because business is BAD. And this kind of stunt is, of course, the last ditch effort to remedy to that.

Interestingly enough, we have noticed something different this time out (finally - lest this is a first and a new twist added this year that wasn't present at all ij the previous years - for this ''last ditch effort'' has been going for a number of years now, as the medium dies a long, slow, atrociously painful death... It is sad, verily - but it is the way it is.) 

The new addition is a sub-category: for there was, as best as we can remember, only one before: one line of free comic-books, none of which were even comical, the first time out... Over the years, they had all genres represented, really: from cartoony hijinks à-la-Simpsons to hardcore-superheroics à-la-Spawn - everything and anything was given away, for free.  They were mere teasers, unfinished (in the sense of barely polished, too) tales meant to encourage readers to buy the complete series and all the spin-offs that would surely ensue.  Anyhow, no matter how bad, these were free - but limited. Only about a dozen of different titles were offered and it was one copy per customer, too. There are limits to altruism - always. 

This year, thus, we see something different: 32, count them, 32 different ones are being offered here! And they are sub-divided into two distinct categories: gold and silver! Why no bronze? That was our first question, really... And they could have gone on, too: platinum, mercury, tin foil. For the offerings are diverse enough to sub-categorize to the infinite here - well, almost. 

In the ''gold comics'' top category, we have the usual suspects: the aforementioned Avengers, of course, along with the New 52 from DC (led by the mighty JLA, the *true* mightiest super-heroes of all, who might be mightily pissed off for two reasons rather than a single one now: it was bad enough that the Avengers beat them to the punch in the 'race to the big screen treatment' there - but, on top of that, these freebies being sort of The New 32, they're also stealing some of the thunder from their company's New 52-plus...! Oh well - nothing is original in these things anymore, anyhow! So let's just move on...!) for, then, there's also that wretched Simpsons presence with ''Bongo Comics'' (the Simpsons know a thing or two about long painful decay and not wanting to go away, too) along with the rest of them ''usual suspects'' - Star Wars, Transformers, Mega Man, Image... YoGabba Gabba?!?  Heck, even the Peanuts are making a comeback this year...!  Mr. Schulz must be rolling in his grave; his creation comes back in support of a Kabloom kablooey toon that sort of rips it off. Wow.

That was for the run-of-the-mill, trite-as-a-trout, boring-as-a-boar seen-it-all and déjà-vu kind of fare, unoriginal-to-the-bone and all... That's the ''gold comics'' for ya! 

The ''silver comics'' must be inspiring themselves from the far-more eventful silver age of the medium: for they go in all kinds of directions and, if it still sucks eggs as some comic-book aficionado we know would say, well, it does rate something like a C+ for the mere effort... Maybe?!? 

Headlining this category are many more comeback coups that no one thought would or should have been attempted: Buffy, Burt Ward (Boy Wonder!) and... Elvis. Graphic Elvis.

 You can probably download previews of all of these, still, if you go on this site - now!  

Other offerings are simply bizarre, rehashing stuff that we've seen before, a million times over, stuff that is purported to be greater, this time out, due to the affiliation it bears with a so-called big name: like the latest return (from the dead? What - again?!?) of Lady Death - brought to you by Brian Pulido! Just like if it was 1999, eh?

Possibly the most unsympathetic character-find ever 
after Dracula, Hannibal Lecter and the Devil - 
but this one has curves...

Or like the following: an umpteenth take on the ''guy without faith or any set of beliefs to speak of'' who turns out to be ''humanity's last chance''... Ha.  The mere fact that it is patronized by Gale Anne Hurd, producer of such films as Terminator and Aliens and, alas (for her) also behind that wretched Walking Dead thing on cable TV... So, the mere fact that she is associated with this in some obscure way (probably preparing a possible next bad-TV-show, in the eminent advent of a WD cancellation!) is suppose to elevate this drivel to the heights of the genre...? And when we say genre, we mean fantasy-horror-gothic fare, not merely comic-books! Talk about inflating the importance of something way out of proportion: talk about upping the ante (or is it upping the Anti, in this case?) She probably saw the writer's premise for this book and, encouraged by the persistent rumours that Garth Ennis' Preacher will get the big-screen treatment incessantly, too (despite hordes of protests against it - or, if there weren't exactly ''hordes,'' there will be.) she decided to snatch it while it was hers to take, still...? Between the bad taste that Kevin Smith's Dogma left in everyone's mouth, the pathetic failure of ''Legion'' and ''Priest'' (and most every other film that Paul Bettany is featured in - but that is another story) not to mention superior fare such as Solomon Kane and Constantine - do you truly believe that this is worth upping the ante upon, Gale?  May the Good Lord Have Mercy upon your production company then, Gale...!

Since when is the Antichrist 
supposed to be the Saviour...?!? 
Someone misread the Bible 
A book full of charming charring things such as rapist-demons who take their victims to motels named ''Our Miraculous Lady Motel'' and tomboy terminatrixes who come in the nick of time to save their naked rear ends as if right on cue - that's supposed to be action, adventure, humor and irony, Gale? 

Don't try that on AMC...

Comic-book publishers gamble indeed - and they gamble big time here: they gamble that the teasers they offer, free of any charge, will pay for themselves by whetting the appetites of all the prospective readers that they have left. And those guys (and gals, sure) will cover the charges as they buy all of the follow-up... If that doesn't work, there might always be a desperate TV producer, network executive or filmmaker, creatively bankrupt to an extent that makes him (or her, surely) willing to buy these properties in order to keep it rolling...

Laisser les bons temps rouler - as they'd say in Baton Rouge! 

The only problem here is that these are anything but good times for the comic-bookies, their staffs or their industry overall!  Couldn't have happened to nicer bunch, too...

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