Open Soapbox by Brian Daniel
Heroes, Kids, and Hope
Tonight was the night I'd been waiting a year for.
Spiderman 2 was finally out, and while I'd promised my friends back in my old college town I'd see it with them on Friday, the geek in me was screaming to see it ASAP. So I bought my ticket a day in advance, put off drawing my comic for a few hours, and headed out to the theater.
Of course, being the lone nerd that I was, I was trying to draw as little attention to myself as possible. These days, it's like no one goes to see a movie alone, so whenever I do I feel like a real sore thumb. Naturally, I try not to draw too much attention to myself. So of course, Murphy's law takes effect, and as I hand my ticket to the usher, my arms spasm and I almost spill my 42-ounce Pepsi and popcorn all over a passerby. I proceeded to my seat as nonchalantly as I could, hoping that would be that.
No such luck â€“ a family came up to my aisle and asked if the seats beside me were taken. I swallowed my pride and admitted they weren't. But oh well, it didn't really matter. I was here to see the sequel to one of the best comic book adaptations of our time, not to feel self-conscious.
Around me, I couldn't help but notice how many kids under the age of five were there. This has always bugged the hell out of me when I see movies; a lot of parents seem to think PG-13 and R ratings are meaningless, until their kids start screaming at every unexpected violent scene or loud noise. In addition, as much as I love kids, they need everything in a movie explained to them, and the always ask in the loudest voice possible.
All that aside, I settled into my seat and relaxed. As much as I tried to ration out my popcorn, I was still done with it by the opening credits. Thankfully, my 42-ounce Pepsi had barely been tapped, so I was ready and rarin' for what was potentially the first real blockbuster of the summer (Van Helsing and Chronicles of Riddick were good attempts, but in my opinion mostly flash and flare).
I won't spoil the film, but I'm compelled to tell of the following: There were several intense battles between Spiderman and Doc Ock, and after Spiderman pulled his first near-impossible, back bending recovering from one of the villain's attacks a small but well-pitched voice rang out like a chiming bell behind me.
Half the theater busted out laughing at this little boy's reaction, and it hit me as to why these kids were here. Maybe they were too young for a lot of the violence, and maybe they'd never really comprehend the plot, but at that moment there was no doubt in my mind that this kid understood the most important thing; Spiderman was a hero. He did the impossible, he snatched people away from danger, and in the end he made a horrible situation become an undeniable victory.
In real life, there are no heroes like that. Life is an often bleak, even painful experience, and we can learn that at a very young age. But for the ten minutes it takes to read a comic book, the thirty minutes it takes to watch a cartoon, the two hours it takes to sit through a movie, we can be given hope. We can escape the darkness we often endure in reality and take shelter in a fantasy where in the end, good endures and triumphs. Then, just maybe, when we put down our comic books, turn off the TV, or leave the theater, we can walk through life with a sliver of hope that heroes like that really can exist, even if it is silly fantasy.
Working on a superhero webcomic can, at times, be really frustrating. Superhero comics may rule the roost in the print industry, but they're dwindling on the web. More often than not, the genre is being lampooned for its obvious silliness. Yes, tights look ridiculous. Yeah, two guys fighting is the most overused premise for fiction since Homer first uttered the Iliad. I'll even grant you that everything worth doing with superheroes has likely already been done. In light of all that, making a superhero comic on the web can be tough. My own audience is very niche and has been from the start, and a lot of times I question what I'm doing it for, if it isn't the sheer enjoyment of producing my art.
Tonight, though, I remembered.
I remembered being a little boy, like the one in theater tonight, and being in awe of fictional heroes like Batman, Superman, and Spiderman (And his Amazing Friends. Hey, it WAS the eighties.). That's what originally inspired to me to draw superheroes of my own. It is what kept inspiring me until I first scrawled the visage of a certain rodent-like costumed character. I draw my webcomic because I want to believe in the invincible hero, no matter how silly that may be.
The world is full of little kids and kids at heart who want to believe in heroes, and I hope I never stop being one of them.
Brian Daniel is a guest contributor for the Comixpedia. He relives his dreams and beliefs that there can be heroes out there through his chief creative endeavor, Saga of the Ram.