Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Secret Origin of DC Comics

I managed to catch Secret Origins of DC Comics on TMN last Saturday, and really enjoyed it. It was cool to hear the actual voices of some of my favorite artists; for example, I'd seen photos of Neal Adams, but actually hearing him speak is another thing altogether. Putting a face to Len Wein and Marv Wolfman was also cool.

The overview represented the 75 years of the publisher fairly and with a nice balance. Overall, the documentary touched on most of the major events of the last 7 decades; of course, moments or creators that are important to a comics fan like myself are probably irrelevant to the layman.

Seeing the early years of the company was enlightening. One of the main things I took from the film was how DC dealt with certain crisis points (ironic choice of word considering how many Crisis series they've released): whenever sales crashed for whatever reason, it seemed that daring creative voices stepped up to save the day.

The Silver Age was almost single-handedly  launched by Julie Swartz; Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil electrified the 70s; Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore's Watchmen revitalized the 80s. Stunts like the Death of Superman and Bane breaking Batman sold gangbusters in the 90s. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee have probably saved DC with the recent Nu 52 relaunch.

Comics have always succeeded based on quality; well written and beautifully drawn books tend to attract readers, rather than fair weather collectors. Sales have dwindled over the years on account of a variety of self destructive decisions by the industry, to the point where I honestly wonder if DC Comics will still exist within 5 years. Fortunately, I have my long boxes to turn to anytime I wish.

Regardless, the legacy of the publisher is certainly their iconic characters that transcend the medium. I've been a big fan of DC every since the first Batman issue I read as a youngster; I'm grateful for all of the years they've entertained me, and have tremendous respect for the writers and artists who have contributed their heart and soul to telling stories that will last forever.

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