Better Living Through Graphic Storytelling
A Comics Blog About Shit We Like
30 April 2007
Comics Not in Comics
So I've been watching a lot of television.

A lot of television.

I've noticed that graphic literature/comics have been getting quite a bit of reference in the mainstream media lately.

Beyond the constant barrage of "Zap! Pow! Comics are not just for kids, anymore!" and "Kids love Manga!!" articles that seem to come out consistently.

I think that is a good thing.

Some references made in television in fact deal with the preconceived nothing that comic books are made for children, albeit in somewhat backhanded ways that inevitably make comics out to be, not only reading material for kids, but reading material for grown-upkids as well.


I'll take 'em where I can get 'em.

(Yes I did just use "'em" instead of "them".)

Here's a quick run-down of how some of my favorite tv shows have been referencing comics:

Lost Fans who have been following the show will not be surprised that the creators of Lost reference comic books. In the very first season, one of Hurley's comics (a Spanish-language translation of a Mark Waid Green Lantern/Flash story, which I assume was part of the Brave & the Bold mini-series) makes a few appearances, as it is handed off from character to character. However, as the slipstream-style drama has escalated over the past season and a half, the witty pop-culture references have been sidelined along with Charlie and Hurley. "Serious" comic reading Lost fans were excited by the prospect of comic's "it-boy", Brian K. Vaughn, perhaps bringing some elements of comic-styled storytelling to the show, and what they got instead was an exchange between Hurley and Charlie arguing over whether the Flash was faster than Superman. Those of us in the know obviously recognize the Flash as the faster man (fastest man alive, in fact), but one of the beautiful things about this exchange, for me, is that it is in fact identical to maybe 5,000 different conversations I've had growing up one of the few unabashed Flash fans in elementary school. To add to this beautiful fan-boy moment, Hurley takes it up a notch by referencing the classic Flash/Superman story when Charlie begs the question, Why on Earth would Superman want to race the Flash? "Uh, I don't know. For charity?" Brilliant!!

30 Rock Aside from having consistently grown from a fairly clever/funny show that started off a bit rocky (pardon the pun) to possibly the best network comedy show currently on air (I know it's going to get canceled before it's time), it consistently uses terms like "frick", "dang", "oh snap", and "blerg" as running jokes. Even better, however, has been the use of "By the hammer of Thor!"

Raines I honestly have no idea why no one is talking about how amazing Raines is. It has, at it's foundation, possibly the greatest must-win combination in the history of television: Jeff Goldblum and endless Raymond Chandler references. That's right. Both of those things, in one television show. Why are you not watching this? I have no idea. On top of this, of course, are the comic references. Several, in fact. The police sketch artist who works with Raines, is an aspiring graphic artist, for which Raines constantly belittles him for. To Raines' credit, an overheard conversation of said artist with his agent on the phone has him turning down work for Archie Comics, stating "If you want the Dark Knight, or Watchmen, you know where to find me." Also, an entire episode (Stone Dead) deals entirely with an art student studying cartooning as the victim, and his entire world of persnickety fanboys, goth girlfriend, and, hitting it even closer to home, washed-up stoner gangs. The comic references have seemed to have ended there, and the season finale (as announced by NBC, in spite of another, un-aired, episode being listed on was quite shaky compared to the rest of the season, but I will continue to watch the show for as long as it airs. I re-iterate: Jeff Goldblum + Raymond Chandler.

Sidenote: I'm not sure if anyone has noticed this, but the apartment building of the victim in the Pilot episode, is nearly identical to the building Philip Marlowe lives in, in Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye, which has a similar must-win combination of Elliot Gould + Raymond Chandler.

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