Appreciate The Original

By | Friday, November 04, 2011 1 comment
The S.O. and I had a dinner last week in which we found ourselves in the company of a pair of British tourists, Dave and Paula. A nice couple in their late 40s/early 50s. Both had messy divorces a few years back, but afterwards found each other. They've been together about five years now. We chatted for the two hours or so that we were there about all sorts of things. Some trivial, some not. Some personal, some not.

At one point -- and I don't recall how this came up -- Paula noted that she'd seen the trailer for the upcoming Tintin movie and thought it looked horrible. That there were ways you could make a movie about a book and do it well, but this didn't look like it. She thought J.R.R. Tolkien would've approved of how the Lord of the Rings movies turned out, but C.S. Lewis would be turning over in his grave over the Narnia pictures. But she clearly did NOT like what she'd seen so far for Tintin.

I agreed that it didn't look promising to me, but that I didn't think that was relevant anyway. Because at the end of the day, regardless of how good or bad the movie ultimately is, we can always go back to Hergé's books, which are what everybody loved in the first place! Even if those go out of print (however unlikely that may be) there's still the existing copies in libraries and personal collections. A ligne claire Tintin and Snowy will always be around for us, whenever we like, regardless of how plasticine they look on film.

The subject of Doctor Who came up as well (initially in the context of how Paula's house kind of seemed like a TARDIS at times). Interestingly, Dave pointed out there seems to be a bit of a disconnect with the current series and older British fans. The new version seemed a little too Americanized, and it didn't feel quite like Doctor Who. I said that I still preferred the Tom Baker era stories for largely the same reason, and Dave went even further back citing his preference for William Hartnell. Here again, though, those old episodes are still available and the newer ones really do nothing to detract from them.

When I was a kid, a lot of media we consumed was transitory. If you missed that week's episode of Doctor Who, you probably were going to be stuck with a half-hour hole in the story, possibly for years. Heaven forbid you missed a story conclusion! And if you missed that month's comic, it was going to be a heck of a hunt finding it so you could catch up. And if you wanted a character's full back-story, your only option was to become a comic book collector (as opposed to simply a fan or a hobbyist) because reprints were relatively rare. You had to hunt down those decades-old issues if you wanted to read that story.

So if something got changed, that impacted you as a reader a lot more directly. When Barry Allen became the Flash in 1956, fans were glad to see some version of the character return to publication, but there's was zero indication at that time that Jay Garrick fans would ever see that specific character again. If you missed Detective Comics #327 when it first came out in 1964, you might've been confused as to why Batman suddenly looked different in #328; you wouldn't have had much recourse but to accept the changes and roll with them, or reject them and move on to something else entirely. In that type of environment, "Tintin looks wrong" might be justified.

But as I said, Hergé's work is still with us, despite him dying almost three decades ago. As are stories about Bat-Mite and Ace by Sheldon Moldoff. Virtually everything is available these days, often in multiple formats. So if you don't care for some of the recent revamps of Superman or Captain America or Spider-Man or Starfire, there's still plenty of great material featuring those characters that you can still easily go back to and enjoy.
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Matt K said...

Unless of course you want to see the original versions of the Star Wars films. ;-)