Monday, July 9, 2007

Killing Captain America For Fame

The premeditated murder of Captain America by Marvel Comics is certainly a ploy to push product but it is also a case of killing someone famous to gain fame for the killer.

attribution image by Chris GarrettBoth of these strategies come from a realization by the "creative" team that they are not capable of creating a blockbuster story based on characters of their own creation or on inspired story lines that would last for generations. Marvel, of course, wanted to sell more units, but who thinks it would be possible for any of the current writers in the comic book world to write a must-read, keepsake story where Captain America, living, amazingly does something worth reading about. That just wasn't going to happen. Instead, the team settled on the quick and easy solution for anyone who's creativity has dried up (or never existed) and just bumped off the character. That's worth a many-fold increase in sales and the writers wouldn't even need to miss their early dinner reservations after their story pitch session.

For the writers and editors the death gives them the fantasy that killing a famous character may give them the kind of comic book immortality as Bob Kane, Joe Schuster, Jerry Siegel, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Wil Eisner and others. Apparently, comic book writers today can have the same sort of delusion as a Mark David Chapman or a John Hinckley, where killing someone famous will give them the type of fame that their own abilities will never earn for them. Actually, the delusion is even sadder in this case because thirty years from now, after Captain America's death is retconned into the wtf were they thinking trashbin, very few people will have awareness of the current Marvel staff while someone like Stan Lee, who worked on creating his own work and not destroying others, will still be remembered.

Here's an idea for anyone in the comic book industry: create your own characters and do anything you want to with them. If the corporation that writes your paycheck and owns the copyright to a character has assigned you for the time being to make the character do something several times a year, don't kid yourself that this will ever equate you with the great ones in comic book history. You need to show your greatness by creating something not seen before. So if you are facing a deadline for an issue or a marketing push and you are thinking about the cop out gimmick of killing a character, know that instead you will be showing everyone that you are just a copywriter that got lucky.