No Respect. No Wonder.
I owe Hollywood an apology.
For years I've been bitching about how badly Hollywood treats the comic book industry. Comic book adaptations are the leading entertainment content in film, and likely that's about to happen in television. Hollywood has never done anything to change the perception that comics are anything other than kid stuff.
Why keep portraying comics as just for kids? Hollywood does nothing to change the perception most Americans have about comic book writers and artists to protect the impression of them as the foremost entertainment choice in America. They're not — video games are.
Accentuating the notion that comic creators imagine characters and storylines with little or no literary ability is a pretty smart thing to do with everyone chasing the same audience.
Why should Hollywood give anyone an alternate place to spend his or her entertainment dollar? Think about this for a moment — while promoting a superhero movie, when's the last time or ANY time you're heard an actor, producer, or director talk about or even mention the comic book creators?
Jay Leno held up a two-page spread of the Django graphic novel on the Tonight Show to showcase the art and never mentioned the artist.
There is a method to that ego. That comic book Jay was holding is a product of Hollywood It's a Hollywood production of an adult film, now made into an adult comic book, or how we like to say in Hollywood, a graphic novel.
The movie studios would gladly have you believe, comics would never have broken Gwen Stacy's back, neck, or whatever she broke when she bounced off the concrete in the last Spider-Man film. The bold realism of Watchmen was certainly not originated in comics. Tony Stark an alcoholic? Spider-Man's best friend and Green Arrow's sidekicks, hooked on drugs? A gay superhero?
A once good superhero, turned evil who then murders an entire planet?
All those ingenious innovations belong to the movie studio's creative community. That's the across-the-board mindset of the general public. La La Land conveys complexity and realism into comic book characters. Comics are the only source the History Of Static Shock, material not given its due by Hollywood. A rare single card (term for credits on screen) is pretty much the best credit we see outside of the comics industry.
"Road To Perdition is from a comic book? GET OUT OF HERE!" That was the response from a young Black writer after I suggested she write comics. When comic book fans want to enlighten somebody, we bring up films like From Hell, V For Vendetta, Red, and Road To Perdition. 99% of people have no idea.
Tinseltown's superior attitude shows no sign of abating — in fact, it seems to be getting stronger. I would not be surprised if during entertainment conferences or seminars, studio heads give panel discussions with titles like, "How to Train Your Comic Creator" or "Comic Books, Hollywood's Bitch!"
Once I was foolish enough to think Hollyweird was at fault for the comics industry's continuous perception by most people as kid stuff. A perception they have attached to San Diego' Comic Con International (SDCC) the biggest pop culture event in the world. Yeah, pop culture, its not just comic books by any stretch of the imagination.
Except, the imagination of those in the filmed entertainment business.
The boys from Babylon are trying their damnedest to usurp the show, it won't happen but that's another article. SDCC is comic's biggest marketing and promotion achievement and the motion picture industry has branded it as a bunch of geeks and nerds dressed in costumes 100 % of the time.
As I mentioned, I've been foolish. Undeniably, Hollywood's disrespect is intentional and deliberate and undoubtedly I owe them an apology. Hollywood, I'm sorry. I've been wrong.
The overwhelming opinion the general public has of my industry, you're not responsible for. We are. Yes, SDCC is our house, but our house needs to put in order. Don't misunderstand me, SDCC is run like a well-oiled professional machine but you have tainted the very best we have and we must and will fix that.
Until then, we deserve to be viewed as nothing but geeks, nerds and children. I'm a proud geek and nerd. You define us as juvenile, that has to stop. If we don't counter your dirty work, then we are not ready to play at your level, not even close.
We know, it's not show friends, it's show business.
We're selfish, short sided and often senseless. Not all the time but so often we've become a joke to the French and Japanese comics industry. Comics, one of the few original American art forms and recognized as such by a country who's ass we had to save and a country who's ass we had to kick. Yet, we're the joke and deserve to be.
End Part 1.
Part 2 can be read at Comicmix.com
Michael Davis is an artist, writer, mentor, and entertainment executive.
His positions as an entertainment executive include: President & CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks, President of Animation at Magic Johnson Entertainment, President of Publishing at Blackboard Entertainment, and Vice President, Director Of Talent, and Co-founder of Milestone Media. He's created, written, illustrated, or produced original content for comics, television, radio, publishing, and reading programs as an independent producer. Alumni from his Bad Boy Studio mentor program are some of the most respected talents working in comics, television, and illustration today.
Current projects include graphic novels, The Underground from Dark Horse and Jackie Robinson Day 1, mainstream novels such as Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Black People But Were Afraid To Ask from Full Court Press, White Winter, Black Night Books 1-4 from Simon & Schuster. The Littlest Bitch from Sellers Publishing (with David Quinn) is in its third printing and currently in development for television.
Michael is also the creator and host of The Black Panel, a powerhouse forum that brings together some of the biggest names in the African American media space.
Among his honors and awards are Mentor Of The Year from Mentor Magazine 1995, The Michael Davis Auditorium named at The Gordon Parks Academy 1996, Renaissance Award from the Arizona Black Film Festival 2006, and The Inkpot Award at Comic Con International 2013.
He fully realizes his bio is now the longest and most corporate of the BC contributors, something his haters will no doubt consider just another way to talk about himself.