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Super Hero films are going to die out. It’s just a fact. At some point there will be a turn around and the public will get sick of the Avengers, the Justice league and everything else they go crazy for with every release. It happened with Westerns, it happened with musicals and it will happen to superheroes. That’s fine, that’s how it’s meant to go, and eventually a new wave of films in a new genre will come about and super hero films will get shown on a Sunday afternoon so that me and my contemporaries can huddle round and watch it in the nursing homes. The only problem with that is the backlash it will have on the comic book industry, over the last decade we’ve seen a steady increase in comic book and graphic novel sales, especially for superhero related titles. Thousands of people who would have never normally considered reading comic books are now going into their local book stores looking for great stories from great writers about their favourite heroes. But what will happen when the general public loses interest? What will happen when it’s just the fan base supporting the world of comic books.
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One answer is, quite simply, nothing. I mean, before superhero films came into vogue the comics still sold and a good amount of strong creators did worked their way into the medium. There has always been a big enough fanbase to support the big companies, but the slightly smaller ones (Image, Dark Horse, Vertigo ect.) could suffer in the Super Hero Apocalypse. Without films and TV series like The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hellboy and The Walking Dead few people outside of the comic book community would know about some of the greatest stories to grace the pages of comics. Notice that I say stories instead of super heroes, that’s because great super heroes are not the future of comic books, great stories are.
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It doesn’t matter if you call it the medium of comics, graphical novels or even sequential art, the medium is a medium of expression, just like film, video games, books, television and every other form of art. This means that any story can be told through the medium of comic books, not just superhero stories. If the industry is to truly survive (and by survive I really mean continue to grow) past the Super Hero Apocalypse it won’t be with fifteen different Batman series, it will be by showing the world that comic books can tell any story, and tell it in a way that no other medium can tell it.
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If you want more information on what makes comic books different and unique as a medium look at work from industry academics such as Will Eisner, Scott McCloud and Brian Michael Bendis as each have wrote passionately on the subject. The great thing is there are amazing comic books out there with nothing to do with super heroes; Saga, Sex Criminal, Chew, Southern Bastards, The Fade Out, Seconds, The Sculptor just to name a few. If you’ve never heard of one of the titles in that list I have to insist you jump on Amazon and ick them up, most can be picked up for under £10. These are the series and titles that deserve exposure and the only way that’s going to happen is through sales.
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Edgar Wright would never have been able to make the Scott Pilgrim film without the support of the comic book community behind him and the same thing will be true if we ever get a Sex Criminals TV series (which apparently there is talk about) or a Southern Bastards film. Both the general public and the comic book community need to start to branch out and help demonstrate to the rest of the world what a wonderful medium sequential art can be, because when a creator utilises all the tools afforded by the medium some of the greatest works of fiction can be created.
…but hey, that’s just my opinion, what’s yours?