By Beau Smith
It’s all changed. It used to be that all the best ideas and inspiration came from films and TV. No more.
In the last decade it seems that Hollywood has run out of original ideas for what we can call pop culture action movies. They’ve come to comic books for new ideas and guess what? Not only have they found these original ideas that they were seeking, but they also found a huge, paying audience that they didn’t previously know how to snare on a regular basis. Sure, they could get them in a hit or miss style of “the blind pig finds the acorn” approach, but now the comic book community is treated with the consumer respect they have always deserved.
I think part of this has come from the fact that many of the movie makers in Hollywood that range in age from 25 to 40 years old and this group grew up reading comics and knowing about comic books. They don’t have the same disdain for comic book properties that some of the movie-makers from the previous generation have/had.
I’m not just talking about Marvel and DC Comic book properties. I’m talking about Wanted, Men In Black and some of the other non-mainstream books that bring the sensibility of a mainstream foundation with a second floor built upon the influences of film, video games and technology of the last twenty years. Comic book creators have respect for the films that have come before, but they know how to interweave those inspirations into the mix of what they grew up with. Layers added, the good kind.
When it comes to drama films, Hollywood has lost touch with what real consumers want to see. There’s been a change and they don’t want to admit it. Today’s consumers no longer will sit and be force-fed what Los Angeles and New York wants them to consume. Comic book properties are a wake up call that’s a pretty loud alarm bell for Hollywood to add a new coat of paint to the barn.
Don’t get me wrong, mainstream comic book publishing isn’t perfect in this area either. Marvel and DC Comics also need to think beyond New York. Although the creative community in entertainment has always leaned towards the more liberal wing, Like Hollywood, comic books can’t forget that the United States is a big country and there are a lot more small towns than there are big cities. There was a reason why The Andy Griffith Show and The Beverly Hillbillies were huge hits that frustrated Hollywood in the 1960’s. There’s a reason why Larry The Cable Guy packs stadiums. There’s a reason why the latest Rambo movie did well at the box office. The “blue collar” consumer base hasn’t even been scratched in comics and movies yet. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying there should be all “redneck” comics or “shoot em up” movies. I’m saying that there should be more attention and effort put forth to give “real” America more entertainment that they can not only relate to, but escape to without the politically correct police force trying to make them assume the position.
There are a lot of really smart writers in comic books that are and can produce some very innovative and entertaining ideas that haven’t been refried in Hollywood. Hopefully we’ll soon get to the point where we don’t have to see wasted efforts like remakes of Bewitched and S.W.A.T.
I think that another one of the reasons Hollywood is starting to listen is because the American public is making their vote count with their wallet. If they don’t want Lions For Lambs, they show it by not paying to see it the theatres or by buying the DVD.
I’d like to see comic book consumers do the same kind of voting with their wallets. I read via the internet, message boards, emails and letters that so many aren’t satisfied with the way some of their favorite characters and comic book stories are being presented, well this is the way to do it. If you like something, sing it’s praises to the publisher and buy it. If you don’t like it, tell the publisher and don’t buy it.
I’m just trying to make things a little simpler in a complex world.
A Diamond Born To Be Rough
If anything was ever meant to be read as a collection, it’s The Black Diamond by Larry Young and Jon Proctor from AITPlanetLar ($19.95)
If anything was meant to be a movie, it’s The Black Diamond. Government intrigue, witty dialogue, great art, manly action and a very cool 1973 Mercury Cougar. (My dad had one that would friggin’ fly.) This is one of those comic books (trade paperbacks) where everything fits, the story, the characters, the art and the color. It has a real film look to it without losing the craft of comic book story telling.
Larry Young is a friend of mine that I’ve spent quality time with. Larry, Brian Woods and I did some time in Missoula, Montana at a cabin (mega cabin) on a lake a couple of years back when we were all three guests for the Muse Comics store signing. That night we all told stories of the comic book business and made new ones. They were the stories that only three guys with more hair on their faces than their heads could make up.
After drinking beers and swappin’ stories with Larry I knew that some day he would throw out a manly take like The Black Diamond. Larry’s claim to fame book Astronauts In Trouble will always be his foundation, but The Black Diamond is going to be his second floor.
The Black Diamond is a straight-ahead story on a crooked road. It’s a tale of a good guy dentist that hits the road in a fast car to save his kidnapped wife from folks you wouldn’t let move into your neighborhood. The Black Diamond is three kinds of simple stuck in all kinds of smart. This is a book you’ll read and re-read. You’ll pass this around like a cheap bottle of wine and everyone will enjoy the buzz. The last page of the story is pitch perfect. You’ll see.
Get to your local comic book shop and buy/order The Black Diamond. Read it and then write Larry Young and tell him you want more. Tell him Beau Smith said so.
Beau On Rambo
Have you seen the latest film/DVD by Sylvester Stallone? If you haven’t, then you should. It’s more than knee-deep in testosterone, it a blood bath of it. (I mean that in the best way) I haven’t seen this kind of killing the bad guy creativity in many years. I love the fact that the bad guys are BAD and deserve every headshot that vaporizes their melons into red mist. Stallone did a wonderful job writing and directing this beautifully filmed movie. Rambo is for guys what Sex and the City was for gals. It was like watching a great boxing or UFC match where you howl when perfectly placed uppercuts and elbows are thrown.
Talk is minimal with Rambo, but every time he does say something it makes perfect sense. The team of mercenaries in the movie are a real treat. Most people expect Rambo to do it all himself, but these guys show that even Rambo might not be able to take out 100 bad guys within the allotted film time.
If you enjoyed the fun action movies of the 1980’s then you will LOVE Rambo. It goes to show you how you CAN take that genre and modernize it for today’s audience that might have missed the great action movies of the 80’s. The editing and sound effects of the movie are top notch and really add to the film. As with the last Rocky movie, Stallone shows that he truly knows the characters he is writing.
Rent this movie today and quit shaving your chest. Be a man!
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Chuck Norris-Karate Kommandos #1
If ever a comic book deserved to be CGC “slabbed” it’s Chuck Norris-Karate Kommandos #1. Who wouldn’t want this prize piece of face punching entombed in high grade plastic? The writing is brilliant and the action is everywhere. This book was way ahead of it’s time. I think it can only be truly appreciated today. Search the back issue bins and find yourself a copy.
Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Victoria Recano
She’s a reporter in real life and plays one in almost every film/TV show she’s ever been in. Who can forget her role as the reporter in the “Fannysmackin'” episode of CSI?
She is a real dark haired, leggy beauty that deserves a bigger role than reporter. Let’s hope she takes more time off from Entertainment Tonight and does more movie roles, just so I can look at her longer. (Yeah, I’m selfish like that.) She has a really nice website at www.victoriarecano.com. Check it out. I’ll be the guy in the front of the internet line.
“There is no joy like being a boy”. That saying (made up by me) was felt and felt hard by my grandson, Andrew “Jethro” Smith. The other day he was running amok through his mom and dad’s house with chaos as his shadow, when he tripped (word on the playground is that the dog, Gus shoved him) and decided to give the coffee table a head butt. Look at the photo and you decide who won. Needless to say it earned Jethro a trip to the emergency room. Once there he was laid out on a table like a frog in biology class with a doctor, two nurses and his mom & dad all looming over him.
Scuttlebutt in the ER has it that he asked for a shot of whiskey when they were looking for something to numb the pain. Truth be told he pulled out a .45 bullet that I gave him and he bit down on it when they “glued” his wound up. It seems these days they don’t stitch you up with catgut like they did in my younger days. They say the glue doesn’t leave a scar. That’s too bad, Jethro already had a story made up about getting in a machete fight with five large Samoans on a barge in the South Seas. So much good story gone to waste.
He bled like Cowboy Bill Watts in a Texas Cage Match, but it only bothered him for the first 10 minutes. It caused the rest of the family distress for days, especially when it bruised up to a very manly shade of purple. My wife still blubbers when she looks at his head. Women are like that.
So there you go, another Smith boy earns his first head wound. The family tradition continues.
The Original Knot-Head,
Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!