Comic Book Survival – How Comics and Graphic Novels Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century

Graphic novels and comics have been around for over seventy years. The medium has begun to see substantial changes in the new digital age. The industry has matured and the characters tend to be more fully developed. In some ways, the characters and storylines took a step back to the 30s and 40s at a time when a lot of the characters were dark and violent; the villains word on the sociopathic and the hero's code wasn't always black and white.

Comic book universes became more cohesive as characters moved from one book to another in one sitting the overall story arcs. Plot lines and subplots have become more intricate and attention-grabbing as they interconnect between various comics series. This new level of sophistication have drawn the attention of Hollywood as more graphic novels are snapped up an adapted for motion pictures. Mainstream society has a voracious appetite when a hero is brought from the pages of comic books to a full length film.

For years I have railed against the absolute ignorance of writers, directors and designers who felt they knew how to adapt comics to the screen. It took time for technology to catch up to reprise the comic book hero. The digital age and a new crop of creative talent raised on comics changed all that; the new breed of movie creators intrinsically understood what was needed to make the transition from their love of comic storytelling. Having worked in the comics field as well as film and television, I was well aware of the boundaries and limitations placed on creative talent but I knew that a great many did not understand what they had.

In the 21st century comics world heroes die like everyone else. The demise doesn't usually last long by human standards, but in a comic book's life, years could have transpired. Like a good Stephen Spielberg film, these creators know how to tug the right strings that cause you to feel for the characters they're about to sacrifice. You feel cheated. Evil may have temporarily triumphed over good in spite of the noble efforts of the survivors. The heroes knew what they were getting into when they donned their costume, and the realism displayed on the pages suggests the artist and writers were attentive too. A sense of drama often pulls you in to the point at which you feel present at the tragedy. If someone was injured, either a scar or another feature was incorporated within the next comic book.

The comic book industry slightly altered the looks of heroes as the time went by.

Comic book characters rarely age and when they do it's to incorporate a unique plot device. Another factor to consider is why the comic book industry changed the looks of their characters. Apart from the most popular and enduring characters in the genre, many heroes and villains have made the costume change as a way of generating interest in their books. Whether the change takes place to fit the expectations of a new generation or to conform with their cinematic counterparts heroes and villains now easily make the stylistic transition. So much has changed over the years that some characters are unrecognizable from their origin.

Comic's constant change and growth will forever be there with us. Updating the look and storylines of comic book characters keeps the industry fresh and exciting while attracting new readers. I continue to read comics for those very reasons and will probably continue for decades to come. In the good old days we sat outside the candy store every Wednesday afternoon and read our books before taking them home; today I read them from my computer and even my smart phone. The material is every bit as captivating now that I'm an adult as they were back in the day of Bazooka bubblegum and Keds sneakers. One thing that stayed the same throughout my years of reading has been the boundless imagination and creativity of comic creators.

I'm currently producing an online series called Jax and Hellhound. This is a remake of one of my miniseries from the 80's. Stop by my graphic novels online blog or visit my online graphic novels website for a bit of leisurely entertainment. You can read reviews or enjoy the ongoing series Jax and the Hellhound as well as others.

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Author: Dennis Francis
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