A Short History
Comic books have existed in abundance for nearly 70 years, and have existed period since 1827 when a fella by the name of Rodolphe Töpffer created seven “graphic novels” in the span of 20 years. It just goes to show you that comic books and especially graphic novels have been around much longer than you first thought.
Last weekend I had the chance to attend MegaCon 2012 in Orlando, Florida. The convention is self-touted as the largest comic book convention on the east coast of the United States and one of the largest in existence. In fact, it's only second to Comic Con held in San Diego, California every year. This year’s show provided me an opportunity to see what the big fuss is all about regarding comic books, as I’m not the biggest fan.
Comic Book Games
I won’t bore you with monotonous details of my travel or my perusing of thousands of comic books and the hundreds of publications, writers, and artists that were on hand to show off their work. Just know that it was a humbling experience to see some legends of the business and put faces to names you’ve seen millions of times reading countless tales of your favorite superheroes. The real experience from the weekend was my observation of just how the comic book industry relies on the video game industry and the movie industry, and vice versa.
Video games have existed in some form for quite some time but it wasn’t until comic books grew insanely popular in the height of the early 1990’s did video games soar. Games based on the X-Men and Spider-Man comics were some of the better selling video games on the Nintendo NES home video game console in that time period. Some of the video game industry’s best-selling titles have come in the form of comic book adaptations;Batman: Arkham series, Marvel Ultimate Alliance franchise, Marvel vs. Capcom series, DC Universe Online, the Spider-Man franchise, and the X-Men franchise. All have made significant strides into thrusting superheroes upon us in a compelling manner in the video game world.
In a cycle that is never ending and a never ending battle for relevancy, comic books desperately need video games and feature films in order to stay in the lime-light. If you go back, say, 10 years ago you’ll see a steady progression in video games taking on a more “Superhero-ish” approach that largely began with theSpider-Man video game adaptations from the movies in the early 2000’s. As superhero movies gained more popularity, mainly because they weren’t totally atrocious, the video game industry saw an influx of superhero video games that weren’t largely terrible either.
Stan Lee and MegaCon 2012
Let’s go back to MegaCon 2012 now that we’ve established a time-line of where the success of comic book video games came from. In Orlando I had the pleasure of sitting five rows away from the living legend that is Marvel godfather Stan Lee as he held a Q&A forum at in a room at the Orlando Convention Center. While I wasn’t able to shake Stan Lee’s hand, I was able to get a sense of where he thought the comic book industry was heading, and no surprises there, it was the route of video games and feature films. Stan Lee is no dummy; you don’t get to be in your 80’s and still have rock star status without having some smarts. By his own admission Stan Lee stated that he has distanced himself from the comic book realm of things and taken on a more hands-on role at Marvel Production Studios with the many movies on the horizon: The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, a X-Men: First Class sequel, and many more. Lee talked about the desolation of the comic book industry in the 80’s and early 90’s and how it took video games and movies to bring the passion back to fans to continue to support the comic book realm.