Friday, March 28, 2014

FILM NEXUS Vol. 4: Comic Book Movies

Some of my fondest memories of growing up on the northeast side of Ft. Wayne are visiting Books, Comics, and Things in Georgetown every weekend, usually when my mom did grocery shopping at the Kroger, which was then Roger’s. In those days, the comic book release schedule was not broadcasted on the internet, you just had to show up and hope they had the newest issue of a Jim Lee illustrated issue of X-Men, or you would just happen upon something drawn by Rob Leifeld that featured men with big muscles, holding big guns, and probably missing feet. I am still nostalgic for the smell of newsprint, on the rare instance these days I catch a whiff of it, I automatically feel the excitement, and the anticipation for what new issue I would find and take home.

A few of my friends and I would joke about who we would cast in the various comic book adapted movies we came up with in our overactive heads, and what storylines would present the best cinematic experience. We joked because at the time, there were hardly any comic book adaptations, and those that existed besides the first two Superman films and the Tim Burton Batman films, were pretty weak.

Then something happened, Hollywood got hip to comics, and hip to them in a big way. I don’t think it is an accident that as large studios began thinning their development departments that comic books began their rise to the top cash cows for so many companies, they practically come story-boarded. I also believe there was a whole lot going on in the late 1990s through early 2000s that fed to the public’s demand of movies that featured heroes, sometimes tragically flawed, but still were able to accomplish incredible acts of bravery.

Some of those films are pretty great, but as I got older, I started to gravitate toward the comics that did feature characters in outrageous costumes, I started to read stuff by Daniel Clowes, Harvey Pekar, Neil Gaiman, and Alan Moore, writers and cartoonist who interjected much more real life experiences, musings about humanity’s role in the universe, and how we all fail into their stories that could only exist in comic form. Or so I thought. The movies came calling again, and works by those artists started to show up on movie theater screens everywhere, and the movies became a better for it.

On Saturday, Cinema Center is partnering with the Appleseed Comic Con for a local comic artist drink and draw event, followed by a screening of the Daniel Clowes classic “Ghost World,” starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi. This is the comic film that showed me what kind of story comic books are capable of telling. Come out at 8, mingle with some local comic artists, and then stay for the screening of “Ghost Wold” at 9:30. As a bonus, Cinema Center will be screening “Ghostbusters” as part of the Midnight Movie Series that night and you can see it for only $5!

After you catch “Ghost World” at Cinema Center, be sure to catch some of these great films, adapted from comic books that are available for streaming on Netflix:

Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)
Dredd (2012)
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Hellboy (2004)
The Crow (1994)
Fritz the Cat (1972)
The Walking Dead TV series (2010)
Comic Book Men TV series (2012)

Jonah Crismore is Cinema Center's Executive Director and is currently digging Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra's "Scalped."

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