Welcome to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question comes from Andrew Reece and is as follows:-

“With Superman Returns, X-Men 3 and V for Vendetta among the many comic films being released this year, coupled with the endless moaning and complaining from “fans” on the internet about costumes and plot lines and hair styles… is it any wonder comic book readers are regarded as sad acts and geeks by the mass public? Discuss.”

Chuck Satterlee:

The public at large just doesn’t get it. That’s not to say that they aren’t welcome to see one of “our movies”…because they most certainly are.

The fact that comic fans spend a good portion of their income on these characters who show up on the silver screen from time to time, means that comic fans are the true experts. They want to see what they want to see because they have invested so much time and money into the franchise, they feel they know a little something or two about said character.

So, when they dress up at a show in the “correct” costume or they complain on the internet or in person and a “normal” person sees or hear it, they just do not understand the kind of investment that has been made. They might write off the behaviour as geeky or sad, but it isn’t any more sad than the thousands that that “normal” person spends on NASCAR stuff or PRECIOUS MOMENTS. I don’t understand why we are labelled as geeks because we’re into games or comics. I am sure that my cousins know a whole hell of a lot more about race car drivers than I do about Peter Parker.

So, to answer the question, I feel that comic fans clamouring on about plot lines or costumes has no more a geek factor than my cousin, who gets upset if a sponsor changes on a Nascar vehicle because she is going to have to buy a new car to represent the sticker changes.

Isn’t that a costume change?

Oh well, they just don’t get it in the outside world.

Chuck Satterlee is the writer of ‘Of Bitter Souls’ and ‘Smoke & Mirror’ and the Director of Operations at Markosia Enterprises.

Kev F Sutherland :

There are obsessives in every walk of life. You get car geeks, computer nerds, anal architecture lovers, and my god have you ever set off a bunch of music fans?

It’s not just blokes, though they have a particular strain of anal-retentive/Asperses syndrome/mild autism that they can bring to bear on anything.

And it’s minority specialist cult things that bring this out in a very special way. Science fiction and comic books are the most obvious. The sci-fi geek seems to have entered the consciousness in the 1960s with the baby boomer fans of Star Trek and comic books, who organised the first fan conventions – get togethers of the like-minded – and made public their common traits of obsessive-compulsive collecting, cataloguing, memorising, over-analysing, and general Taking-Too-Seriously that has come to characterise the FanBoy.

Why these genres attract such members of the Fanboy sub-species in such concentrations we’ll never know. But, try as the comic art form might to gain for itself some level of credibility, to achieve the respectability afforded to film, novels or drama, it seems unlikely to happen.

As long as the comic strip art form is dominated by escapist science fiction fantasy of an ever-self-parodying and insular nature, then its fans will be characterised as leather-clad, goatee and ponytail bedecked, black t-shirt wearing, overweight, 40 year old virgins who live with their mothers, who will mock you in a passive-aggressive manner for not putting the hyphen in the middle of Spider-Man.

But have you seen opera fans? Now they ARE sad.

Writer and artist on most genres of comic from (currently) The Bash St Kids in The Beano, thru Tarquin Hoylet He Has To Go To The Toilet in Viz, to Star Trek and Dr Strange for Marvel, plus Dr Who, Red Dwarf, Gladiators, Goosebumps and heaps more.

James E. Lyle (a.k.a. Doodle):

Actually I’m less concerned anymore with the superficial facets of adaptation of a film from a comic book, and more concerned with the spirit of the film. But it’s not just that. Just last night a friend was asking if I’d be going to see “V for Vendetta” and I told him “no”. I think that from what I’ve seen the film will be very true to the original, and kudos to the filmmaker for staying true to that vision. But I’ve changed a lot in the past 20 years and I no longer feel obligated to go see EVERY comic based movie out there. The fact is that I no longer see “V” in the same light that I did. Alan Moore had every right to say what he did, but I feel that the philosophy behind the book is so weak as to be broken by the slightest logic. The problem as I see it, is that too many fans are willing to swallow any idea as long as it’s wrapped in a proper comic book package. That’s not me anymore.

I will probably see “Superman Returns”, but I may pick that apart too. Not because of changes to the costume, or the colour of Clark’s hair, but because the motion picture will probably not have the same sensibility as the comic. Then again, the difference with “Superman” and “V” is the difference between various incarnations by various teams of creators over the past 75 years, and what amounts to three principle creator’s vision within a limited series that lasted ten issues.

The point is, not ALL comics inspired motion pictures will be worth seeing. But the worth of said pictures is not in how much or how little they were changed; but rather the worth of those adaptations should be determined by the intrinsic worth of the ideas contained therein.

James E. Lyle is a cartoonist and illustrator, including co-creating titles Escape to the Stars, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and DoorMan, plus work on Fright Night, Cynicalman Sells Out, and the accurately-spelt Wiindows. More recently Lyle worked on Turok, the “missing” Paul Gulacy T.h.u.n.d.e.r. Agents, and DRASTIK #1.

Bart Thompson:

Personally I don’t think that’s a problem to people outside the comic book industry. Most of those complaints take place on comic related internet forums or within the comic shops. People in general still think that whatever is on the screen is in the comics and that all comic creators are rolling in millions because of the movies.

As for comments from our own within our own, everyone has their own opinion. Some people still hate that Wolverine is tall in the movies. Some people still think that yellow and blue spandex would work in live action. All in all we all have to realize that when you take a project from one medium to another some things have to be changed for a smoother translation. Unless Peter Jackson is writing and directing, some things have to be cut out for time restraints (this is not a Peter Jackson diss- I love the man’s work and King Kong ruled and nothing needed to be cut out even if it had a running time of three days long!!!). Sure, some things are changed that shouldn’t (Green Goblin’s costume comes to mind), but that’s art for you. In whatever medium it’s up to the creator, writer, artist, director, producers, whoever to make the final choices. We just need to be happy that Hollywood loves us and these movies are being made at all!

Bart Thompson is the founder of Approbation Comics, creator of Vampires Unlimited, ChiSai, and Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies while the writer of Lethal Instinct through Alias and the writer/creator of Blood, Shells, & Roses coming soon from Arcana Studios!

Kev Clark:

I’m certainly guilty of the occasional moan, e.g. “that character is all wrong” or “why change a perfectly good story when the comic was so good” as anyone who knows me will attest. But it’s easy to get bent out of shape when it’s a character you’re passionate about as I’m sure you all know.

That said, the truly rabid fans who spend a little too much time (it has to be said) on message boards hurling obscenities at directors/actors over sometimes the smallest change don’t really do themselves (or the other fans) any favours. From an outsider’s point of view, it would be easy to tar us all with the same brush… still; it’s probably worth remembering that if those hardcore fans didn’t exist, the studios wouldn’t be making these movies anyway, so it probably all balances out.

That’s my two cents, anyway. I’m off to spend some more time on my Joel Schumacher voodoo doll. This week, I’m working the eyes…

Kev’s dream of owning the kind of comic’s store he’d want to shop at himself is finally complete, as www.fireballcomics.com is online at last. He’d spend his spare time trying to get bitten by radioactive spiders if they didn’t scare him so much.

Mark Poulton:

I don’t see comic fans as being any different than other people that are passionate about something. Look at football fans, every Monday during football season you will hear fans complain about their team, their coaches, how they could do a better job, etc. There’s even the extreme fans that paint their face, wear a jersey, have the hard hat with beer holders in it. They’re like the guy that dresses up like a Klingon or Stormtrooper you see running around at the cons. They’re no different than any other type of super-fan. Bring on the comic movies!

Mark Poulton is the Writer and Co-creator of Koni Waves from Arcana Studio visit www.koniwaves.com and www.arcanastudios.com as well for more information!

Tony Lee:

I’d say no. Most of the masses don’t really give a shit about the fact that Alan Moore walked away from V For Vendetta, or that Hugh Jackman was too pretty for Wolverine. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, it’s really tiny.

The Internet just makes it a little more obvious. I remember the whines when Michael Keaton became Batman, and when the Joker killed his parents. I remember the arguments about the 70’s Dr Strange. But I also remember the fans who complained about Highlander 2, the ones who hated Return of the Jedi – the ‘geek’ crowd have been in every genre. And they’re pretty much accepted. I mean come on, we all know the sports enthusiast who’s pissed off because one of the players was called on the wrong move, or the CSI fan who’s annoyed because ‘there’s no way they’d have found that out from that’.

It’s what a fanboy is.

The comic fans are sad geeks thing is still a throwback from the spandex comics and ‘kids books’ area. How can a fan of the Spiderman comic be taken seriously when Panini (in the UK) brings out a children’s comic of the same name? But the when that same fan shows a copy of Transmet, or Preacher, or Local, or half a dozen non-spandex graphic novels, it changes. They’re not childish suddenly.

Suddenly it’s counter culture. Look at how people have suddenly become ‘cool’ reading Sin City. But it’s the same in every genre. You like Disney films? You kid. You like Pantomime? Kid. You love WWE wrestling? KID.

Comic book fans get a rep for being geeks because people only see the visible ones.

But you know? I don’t actually reckon these days that it’s as bad a rep as people think…

Tony Lee is a UK writer of things for publishers such as Marvel, Markosia, Walker Books and Panini comics. His website can be found at www.tonylee.co.uk

Donna Barr:

HOW exactly is the moaning and nitpicking of fans any different than the hair-splitting over the Bible or the Koran or whatever holy book in the major religions?

Fans or Cardinals — the only difference is, one group has managed to put over their scam on the rest of society.

And of course, fans never got to burn anybody at the stake for believing that Superman could bet Batman in a pocky-dipping championship.

Nothing like a little real blood and violence to be taken seriously. It’s a thought.

Could we have a vote who will be first commie book Pope?

Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once… including writing a column for SBC at this link!

Welcome again, another excellent round of answers from our panellists – and it touched upon a subject very close to my heart, about how the world perceives us comic book geeks. I am quite happy to tell people I read comics, but I have gone through that stage of slightly being ashamed of letting people know I read them.

These days I couldn’t care less what people think of me, life is too short to spend it worrying that people might not like you if you tastes are something to their own. Superman and comic books have made me who I am; someone who I like to think has stronger moral sense than most I see around me. I sometimes get told I am too nice and too giving and I need to toughen up and treat people how they treat me. Again I don’t care what those people said.

Where am I going with this I hear you ask… well truth be told I don’t know, I am just typing as I go this week. Usually I plan these little after thoughts, but this week I am just going with the flow…

Comic Book films are a thing of joy and disappointment I think – I for one cant wait for Superman Returns despite all the fan out cries of wrong colours and s signs on the belt… I already have my Barbie Ken Doll as Superman on my shelf and I will be first in line to see the movie on the 14th of July (Here in the UK). I won’t be slamming the film before then, but I might afterwards… ha ha.

The Panel will return in two weeks, but we need your questions in order to keep things fresh. So please email your questions to me at j_redington@yahoo.com

Also check out http://www.comicexpo.net the Bristol UK based comic expo where SBC’s The Panel goes LIVE for the second time. More news to follow soon…

The views and opinions expressed on the panel are solely those of the panellist who has written them. They do not reflect the views or opinions of silver bullet comic books or myself. Freedom of speech is great, isn’t it?
– James

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