Why Comic Books Matter

The way television is today, it is hard to get a show that is not based on reality to become popular. Shows like American Idol and America’s Next Top Model dominate the airwaves and have for the better part of a decade. It was only within the last three years that shows like Lost or even Heroes took to the airwaves and help the viewing public remember that scripted shows can, in fact, be good. As one of televisions biggest shows starts its final act this week (Sorpranos), as so many before it have. I start to wonder where shows can find an audience but do so without budgetary constraints like those of a television show. Think about it, HBO’s series Rome was cancelled due largely to the budget of the show. When television shows start taking budgets that equal a small feature film (and sometimes more), a network has to really ask itself when does the show become cost prohibited and usually when a show begins to spend more than it can possibly bring in naturally it gets canned.

Enter comic books. Yes, that is correct, I said “comic books” and not a moment too soon. Shows disappear because of budget constraints all the time. The special effects and sets costs millions to produce. You have to hire actors, directors, writers, and even assistants. All this adds up. But in the world of comic books, such costs simply do not exist. Take for instance the television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This show was probably one of the best shows within the last decade. Granted, it had its moments of suck, but in general the show was good. It was well written, largely well acted, and the overall story was interesting enough to keep it around for 7 seasons. But the show began costing too much money and Joss Whedon was busy with other projects (Serenity anyone?) so the show was finally brought to a close. However, the fan base wanted more, and quick search on the internet reveals that the fans of Buffy are alive and kicking. Joss, bless his heart, also found some time in his busy schedule to find more stories to tell and finally after 4 years or so, we get Buffy Season 8, in comic book form. The comic book form frees Whedon from having to construct sets, pay actors, buy film stock (or hard drive space), and even directors. He can tell the story he wants to tell and he can do it with just pen, paper, and colors. The first two issues have proven that Joss Whedon can still write the characters as if he never stopped. These first two issues also show that the story is just as good on that paper as it is on a television screen.

Another great example of the comic book medium working quite well is Marvel’s latest series Dark Tower: A Gunslinger Born. Based on the popular Dark Tower series by author, Stephen King, this comic book series tells the story of a young Roland Deschain (a newly appointed Gunslinger), on one of his early missions in the land of Midworld. The Dark Tower series is almost impossible to do as a live action movie or television show due to the expansive world, characters, and the special effects required to properly due justice to some scenes found in this Stephen King series. However, a comic book works perfectly. We can continue to explore Roland’s world beyond that of the books without having to ever worry about budgetary concerns to make it all look right. Also the characters can be drawn just as they are described in the books without having to worry about find an actor that fans can agree with. Truth be told, if this was going to be done as a movie or television project, it would need to be done animated to truly capture the story. But with a comic, we can do it without all the work that goes into such a project.

Think about Hereos, what if that show got cancelled? Do you think that people who did not nessecarily like comic books go and buy Heroes comic books to get more of the story? I think they would. What about a Sorpanos comic book or even a Firefly comic that continues where the movie left off. Comic books can work wonders for television shows that have been cancelled or that have ended. There is life beyond the television, and it is on the pages of comic books.

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