"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Comic Books

To the uninformed, a comic book is a book in which pictures are used to convey the story; in other words, a child's form of entertainment. Comics are seen as colourful picture books where masked men and women in tights make childish catchphrases in stories full of plot devices. So what do comics have to do with business anyways? There are two ways to look at it. The first way is to look at the comic book like you would a movie because that is the storytelling medium a comic book most resembles. To make a good movie, you need a writer (or a team of writers) to write the script. You need the actors to act it out, you need the director to make it come together in a coherent way. No one component is more important than the other, instead all components must work together in order to make something greater than themselves. Comics are no different, the writer writes the story in script form, the penciler draws it to the writer's script, the colourists colours it in and the letterer transforms the scripts into speech balloons and thought bubbles. An organization that is working together to create a piece of art. Unlike movies however, comics are not constrained by special effects budgets or a higher power telling with final say on the finished piece. A comic book is finished when the writer, penciler, colourists, letterer etc. can all agree that the book is ready. Each person must agree in order for the book to be finished. In that respect, the production of a modern comic book is a lot like the operation of a modern corporation, where everything has to come together in order for the final product to rolled out. If one component fails – say the marketing, the product will likely fail with consumers.

That however, is just the most basic analysis of comics. In reality, one could probably use anything as a metaphor for the modern corporation. What is really unique about comics isn't the way they are produced or how many comic properties can be turned into blockbuster movies. What makes comics important is what ties them back into the heart of this course which encourages us to go out and improve the world, make a difference in it and think outside of the box. In a recent poll of Business Week, it was found that the majority of Fortune 500 CEO's majored in subjects like Philosophy, History, Economics and English for their undergrad. Why the popularity of the social sciences and the liberal arts? Because they teach people to think outside of the box and independently. This courses places a heavy emphasis on 21st century thinking, an organic way of thinking that embraces differences, not one that encourages conformity. One that embraces diversity of ideas, peoples and cultures not one that strives to create ONE corporate culture, ONE idea and ONE type of person. This fluid, dynamic, way of thinking is exactly how comic books have been written for the past 20-30 years. Comics are not constrained by the special effects budget, or the the fear of being too “wordy” for lack of a better term. Comic books are the intersection of two story telling mediums, the novel and the movie, and when it comes together the result is something completely unique and unreproducible in any other medium. Most importantly, in a world where we are supposed to embrace outside the box thinking, understanding comics can be considered outside the box entertainment.

Sources Used:

Bryan K. Vaugh – Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad

Warren Ellis – Transmetropolitan

Jonathan Hickman – The Nightly News

Mark Millar – The Ultimates Annual 2

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