Last month on iFanboy we announced that Darren Aronofsky was bringing a project to comics,which we now know is called Noah, that was explicitly destined for the silver screen. There was much gnashing of teeth over our community’s sidelining. It’s fair to feel shafted, nobody likes sloppy seconds. But I present the corollary argument: Does it matter the intent if the product is good comics?
There are plenty of crappy comics that get made because a script for a movie or TV show wasn’t picked up, but there are also crappy comics being produced that were always intended to be comics. I don’t think it’s a huge detriment adding a few more crappy comics to the catalog when the end result is the potential for a few good comics to slip through. Furthermore, unless the comic is announced in a way that exposes it as a vehicle for a larger production, how would we even know? There are publishers that have a reputation for being clearing houses for ideas with nowhere left to go, and if the whole concept of comics as a cheap first step pisses you off you can steer clear of those publishers.
But the reality is that comics are cheap to produce when compared to movies. It’s not a perfect analogy but in a way making a movie script is like lettering the story boards. Have you guys seen some of the story boards that movies get? They’re awesome! They’re proto comics that never hit the shelves and it makes me sad. Top tier talent that gets paid better than a comic artist without us ever seeing the product. Some do move back and forth between worlds, like Geof Darrow and Lenil Yu. I know there’s no guarantee that a story board artist would be the one to ever actually touch a script to comic project, but in Hollywood it’s all who you know so it can only increase the chances right?
I know I sound like I’m being awfully defensive of people who don’t seem to appreciate our medium the way we do, and it’s not really my intent to take their side hard and fast but I have to admit that Aronofsky’s new book actually looks kind of cool. However, it would be impossible to touch on the new book without first mentioning his first attempt at this: The Fountain. I remember seeing the trailer for the movie and thinking it looked awesome (seriously, click the link, it's a great trailer). I never saw the actual movie because I’m not Conor. I did read the graphic novel and the art did nothing for me to the point where I found the story convoluted and not engaging.
So why am I thinking this time will be any different? I don’t remember the detail but the story of the making of The Fountain was far more drawn out than Noah, which from the get go has been sold to us as a comic with cinematic aspirations. I probably shouldn’t be so hopeful because the idea behind Noah is so thematically similar to The Fountain, i.e. using an old story to expose a failing of our modern society. I guess ultimately I’m just more intrigued by using one of the most popular diluvian myths as a parable of environmental stewardship. And he’s got Niko Henrichon on art! That guy knows how to put a pencil to paper. He’s an artist I’ll follow onto a book just to see his art, story be damned, but I still have my fingers crossed for good story AND good art.
It’s a hard line to walk giving these properties a fair shake. The purist part of me wants to rage against the big boys that they’re not giving us our due, but on the other hand with sales as down as they are can we refuse manna from above? Every time a superhero movie is release we speculate what it might do for the sales of that particular book. Usually it amounts to squat, and really the goal of those movies from a business standpoint is to make money, driving people into the local comic shop is a pittance when compared to the cash flow of the cinema.
But Aronofsky’s plan is something different, he’s saying: I have this great idea for a movie that may never happen, so if you want the content buy the comic. Are many people going to buy just that one book and never look back? Sure. But some might get into it and keep reading. Others might go to a shop where the owner is savvy enough to point to other known names on the shelves. Lindleof, Heinberg, Donner, they’re all there, and maybe that’s the coaxing the movie buff needs. I admit that it’s equally unlikely as the superhero movie driving comic sales, but at least it’s a different tactic.
We here at iFanboy exist in a pretty special bubble within comics. We promote the movies and the events alongside everyone else. We do so because we all like the movies and like the events but also because once people learn that they can come to iFanboy for the big stuff, we can start getting them interested in the small stuff too. Like upcoming indie attractions, Manga to watch and Talksplodes highlighting creators you may not know but definitely should. My scientific summation of the guiding principle behind iFanboy is simply: good comics = good comics. I know I’ve tweeted that line before and I can say it’s one of the reasons I’m proud to write here. So I really don’t care if the comic I’m reading was a failed script, if its good I’ll enjoy it and that’s that.