As somebody who’s spent a little time in Hollywood, pitching in on the production and development side of things, I thought this article in the Atlantic by Lynda Obst had a LOT of food for thought when it comes to the future of cineplexes — even as it makes an enemy of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips:
So I’m sitting at my desk, reading submissions. I had read about the biggest sale of the week on the front page of Variety, and it almost sent me diving head-first into the Silver Lake outside my window.
The story revolves around Zack Overkill, who has entered the witness protection program after testifying against his boss, Black Death. He’s forced to take a drug that strips him of his powers, but he regains his strength when he experiments with new drugs. Soon he’s a masked vigilante fighting villains.
But before I jumped, I called my son. He said, “You, too, can play this game. Look through your submission pile for something you might not have otherwise taken seriously.” He was right. Again.
Yep, that’s the Marvel ICON book Incognito she’s talking about there, as she bemoans the lack of creative variety and depth down in Hollywood. What’s fascinating about all this is the question of artistic risk-taking, and comic books’ place in it. Considering creators and their artistic contributions get revered in the industry (although clearly not enough to stop people from pirating their books en masse), it’s easy to forget that the entertainment industry — whether it’s comics, film, or television — is a business, first and foremost. Cash-strapped studios are trying to fund as many guaranteed hits as they can…
…But in a lot of ways, they’re struggling against both financial pressures and the laziness of execs. Comics have had their heyday because they’re automatically storyboarded and swiftly digestible in a way that books like, say, The Devil In the White City isn’t. So a book that might seem a little “risky” in the industry — Incognito could even stand as such, as a noir-ish twist on the superhero genre, with no actual franchise ties — is actually seen as predisposed towards success in Hollywood.
On the one hand, one could argue that the singular themes and built-in high concepts for comics can actually allow for deep introspection and for heartfelt performances (given the right talent is enthusiastic about the material, of course) — but on the other hand, do I want to live in a black-and-white world where superhero movies — heck, even superhero stories — are the norm? Whether you’re talking about comics like Mouse Guard, Locke & Key and Chew or movies like The Departed, Ray and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, variety (the concept, not the trade publication) is the spice of life. Either which way, it’s fascinating to bat around ideas on this article. What say you, Rama readers? Let us know what you think!
[Hat-tip to Ed Brubaker for the link]