Thursday, March 21, 2013

Supernatural Law week, day 4: finally, the introduction

There is one part of Batton Lash's the Monsters Meet on Court Street which I single out for criticism - the part which Lash didn't write, the introduction. Each volume of Supernatural Law has been introduced by a celebrity and this tome's worthy is television personality and dabbler-in-comic book-writing Jonathan Ross. Ross states:

"...Which is kind of what surprises me about Supernatural Law. It's so good, so much fun, such an accessible, dynamite concept that I can't figure out why it hasn't been snapped up and turned into a TV series or a smash-hit movie and maybe even a theme park ride or two. No matter, because we have the comics-and lots of them-to enjoy. And until the rest of the world finally wises up and tunes in, we can all enjoy that nice, warm, smug glow that comes from being part of the avant-garde, the early-adopters, the cool kids with enough brains and good taste to enjoy a pop culture phenomenon before it's actually hailed as one by the people who don't really dig this stuff but really don't want to look like they're missing out."

Although I share Ross' love for Supernatural Law and most of his introduction simply gushes over Lash's creation, reading this paragraph made me ill. I believe Ross means to compliment Supernatural Law when he wonders why it hasn't become a film or television program. Ross' only comic book, Turf, has been optioned for the cinemas and producing comic books as a means of selling scripts is a tried and tested practice Ross's friend Mark Millar indulges in. The problem is indulging the idea that a comic book series is somehow incomplete without being adapted into another medium. In the first half of Ross' statement, it feels as though he's saying, "why, this comic book is good enough to be awarded with art's highest honour: a multimedia franchise! For his singular artistic expression, Lash deserves to pass his work into the hands of people with a lesser understanding of his ideas to interpret in an entirely differently fashion!" It seems that the success of comics on cinema screens hasn't entirely eradicated our old feelings of shame for partaking of a lesser medium - now our favourite comic book doesn't truly attain respect until Hollywood has granted its seal of approval.

The second half of the paragraph is at least a little reassuring. After first wondering why Supernatural Law isn't on film, Ross backtracks and assures the series' fans that we're the "avant-garde, the early-adopters, the cool kids," which is certainly what fans like be told. Back in the days before comic book-to-film adaptations had become immensely profitable and ubiquitous, I myself wanted to see certain comic books brought to film because I knew it would be a means of sharing some aspect of the stories I liked with friends and family who would never deign to read the original stories themselves. Telling ourselves we're the "avant-garde, the early-adopters, the cool kids," is a fine way to bolster ourselves. It's not that comic books put up barriers of price, format, availability or content which many television & film projects do not - it's just that we're too cool for them.

Would a Supernatural Law film or television series bring new readers to the series? Sure, it would be bound to lead folks to either Exhibit A's shop or Amazon, even without a marketing effort. Would such a film or program actually be any good? It's possible. Is it something Batton Lash wants for the series? Dunno. Would such films or programs enhance the experience of reading Supernatural Law? Not for this fan.

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