I really do like graphic novels (aka comics) but, unlike the geek-mainstream I don’t collect them or even read them a lot. I know the basic themes, the famous heroes, I do love the motion pictures, the computer games (you may have followed my coverage on the ongoing “Sam and Max”-series) and the tv shows. Oh yes, during my teenage years I used to get up earlier so I could watch re-runs of 80’s tv shows like “Spiderman and His Amazing Friends”, “Ironman”, “X-Men” or Superman along with other famous shows before I had to leave for school. Me and my sister were up first on weekend, watching tv the whole morning. However, later I watched my first movies (Batman from 1989 and Superman from 1979 being the first) and during that time I learned about the concept of comics.
I really like the term “graphic novel” much better because, as fans will know, stories have become so mature that there are lots of ‘comics’ that are not comedy nor funny but truly inspired stories in panel structure with terrific art. Yet, it’s still mostly tv and cinema that attracts my attention and then passes it on to comic books.
“V for Vendetta” is a perfect example, since I initially watched the movie only because it was done by the matrix guys (Wachowski Brothers and director JamesMcTeigue), it was filmed in a german studio and starred Natalie Portman. Seemed to me that those were enough reasons to see the movie without actually knowing about the plot or the backstory. I saw it, I loved it.
But as it happened I recently saw the “V for Vendetta” – book standing among the other graphic novels in the bookstore I work in and decided to buy it.
!!WaRNIng!! Spoiler ahead!
In V for Vendetta a dystopian future is described which actually has become past by now given that the novel was first published in 1982. History however developed differently from what we have experienced, Europe seems to be vastly destroyed during a war and in the UK a fascist regime has been established with a ‘leader’ controlling the poeple through media very much like it happened in ‘1984’ by George Orwell. V is a crazy terrorist who hides his face with a Guy Fawkes mask and thrives to destroy the regime by force. He is pretty much the most anti any anti-hero can ever be. A girl named Evey becomes his right hand during the story.
As I said I watched the 2006 movie (official site) well before I read the comic, they are indeed very different (author Alan Moore was not satisfied with the movie as you can read here) but yet quite powerful in their repective ways. In the comic (much more than in the movie) V is not really a hero and what he does and how he does it creates doubt about his motives and actions. It’s what graphic novels (in my opinion) can do best: Create heroes that don’t want to be heroes, can’t cope with it or simply fail to be. Spiderman is a cool superhero but being that and Peter Parker creates major problems for him as a person which cannot be described exactly in an event based medium like movies. Serials like tv shows or comic books do that much better (which probably is the reason that Joss Whedon did/does the missing Buffy and Angel seasons as a graphic novel) because you can plan to stick with a character for some time, movie characters are usually gone within two or three hours and books that do it sometimes bore you to death. And although the story of ‘V’ sticks quite well to the graphic novel I do get the point of Moore’s -and the fans’- criticism.
Ups, that became kind of an essay but in fact all I wanted to say is: If you never ever read a comic and suddenly decide to do so (and I want to emphasize that you should!), “V for Vendetta” is a good way to start. It’s a thousand times less stupid as the current tv programme (on average).