Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Discuss: Comics in Other Media

Doug: This one comes right out of our Suggestion Box. Frequent commenter david_b asked if we had plans to cover The Big Bang Theory. As neither Karen or I have ever seen the show, that answer was "no". Then we got to thinking -- what the heck, maybe there are many of you out there who are fans. So.... have at it. And what of other television programs or even feature films that broach the subject of comic books? We're not talking shows/movies that are comic book shows -- we're talking shows and movies that are sitcoms/dramas that unabashedly mention comics, or have comic reading as a recurring theme. Favorites?


Anonymous said...

OK, first of don’t watch the Big Bang Theory??? OK, you both need to sort that out immediately. They reference DC heroes far more than Marvel, but there is a curious reverence for Marvel including an episode with Stan guesting.

OK, other media – one thing I love is that the comic book world is self-consciously nerdy, so it lends itself entirely to gentle parody. Thus, movies like Kick Ass and Scott Pilgrim are often tremendous fun. Captain Chaos, anyone?

Which reminds me; I loved Butters in South Park as Professor Chaos, with his assistant, General Disarray.

So...cartoons. Very fond memories of Spider Man, but how much of that is due to a superb theme song? I think there are 2 Xmen cartoon series. I didn’t like the more recent one, but the one in the early nineties amazed me. I had my lounge rigged with 6 surround speakers then, and the sound mixing on that cartoon was like a Pink Floyd album!

Lynda Carter as wonder Woman. Probably the best super hero casting of the 20th Century.

I might be about to get my butt kicked here, but I thought the Hulk worked better in some ways on TV than the comic strip. It captured the pathos, the sadness, the Jekyll & Hyde aspects of the story better than the comic. I guess that’s because it switched focus to Banner and made him more real, where in the comics it’s more Hulk-o-centric.

I liked Heroes to start with, but as the 4th series started, I really couldn’t follow the plot, esp. the time-switches. I decided to chase it up later in one go on DVD and then they cancelled it. But it was very exciting to start with. Save the Cheerleader, save the world.


dbutler16 said...

First of all, I love Big Bang Theory, so I agree with Richard that you should start watching it. Very funny, and numerous comic references in every show. 99% of them are DC references, though. As far as non-comic shows that feature comics, this one is pretty much king. I think Chuck also references comics, but I've only seen one episode. Pro wrestling also references comics. Apparently, Superman made an appearance, one way or another, in every episode of Seinfeld. Otherwise, all I can think of is the occasional "cameo" by a comic, such as Archie comics showing up in The New Adventures of Old Christine, or Superman comics being read by Joey on Friends. I think most of the stuff Richard mentions are really comic book shows, thus not really applicable to the OP.

david_b said...

I just went down to Birmingham for a week of Linux training a few months ago, and finally caught some TBBT marathons, quite surprising with all the DC references via shirts worn, displayed statues and comics framed on walls, comic shop humor, Trek cast cameos and of course their Justice League outfits (catch it on Youtube if interested). It's funnier now with more female characters added.

Totally agreed on Lynda as WW, second only to Julie Newmar as Catwoman. I haven't seen the comic book industry movie directed by Mark Hammill a few years back, but it's a resolution this year.

Other than the current Avengers show and the first few years of Batman-TAS, I haven't liked any animated series since the early 70s (Trek-TAS). Most cartoon trends over the decades have gone from being too cutesy to too brooding, various animation just not of interest to me. Sorry, I'm still a diehard to the 60s Spidey/FF/Marvel cartoons.

david_b said...

One humorous comic book moment I recall on the Monkees, when they dressed up and yelled 'THIS IS A JOB FOR... MONKEEMAN'.

Sending up the Bat-craze, following a fight scene with the animated sound effects included, Peter Tork breaks the forth wall and curiously deadpans a question to the audience, 'What's a 'BIFF'..??'

giantsizegeek said...

I started watching the TBBT in reruns last fall. My favorite comic themed episode was the one where Sheldon was dressed as the Flash, and made a comment to Leonard that he just ran to the Grand Canyon, screamed his head off, and ran back to LA in the space of a second. At the end of the episode they actually showed Leonard as the Flash running in super-speed and doing this. I thought it was great.

Some of the episodes take too many cheap shots at nerds. The guy who lives with his mother is too much. He must have a million dollars saved, can't he move out by now?

pete doree said...

Favourite Big Bang Theory bit? Raj saying: " The Silver Age Green Lantern's weakness is yellow. The Golden Age Green Lantern's weakness was wood. So I can take them both out with a yellow pencil? "
Most people would be completely lost, except us natch.

pete doree said...

Or the one where they're go to a costume party, and Raj has to be Aquaman AGAIN.

david_b said...


Sheldon's entire Flash bit was exTREMEly COOL to watch..

For you Trek fans, my favs are Sheldon's Wil Wheaton encounters and getting Leonard Nimoy's DNA on a napkin, exasperating with that and a healthy ovum, he can 'grow his own Leonard Nimoys'.

Karen said...

My husband and I have tried to watch Big Bang Theory a couple of times, but found the characters very annoying. I think they remind me a little too much of the customers I knew when I worked at a comic shop...

david_b said...


My wife shares your view ~ She's alright with most of the characters, but finds Sheldon a bit over-the-top for her tastes.

Redartz said...

Count me among the true Big Bang Theory fans! Yes, Karen , the characters are geeky; yet the show really makes them lovable ( even Sheldon). As an unabashed nerd, I am pleased to see a popular program with such sympathetic treatment . The show is well written, and truly hilarious ( the first sitcom in years that actually makes me laugh out loud)!

Aside from that, one brief comic reference: in the Beatles' movie "Help!", there is a scene with the boys in their home. Paul is at his piano, upon which sits a comic book (either Superman or Action, I don't recall which). Actually Paul has a fondness for comics; Anyone remember "Magneto and Titanium Man"?

Redartz said...

David b- My wife is crazy about the show. She says it reminds her of my college friends and me...

Fred W. Hill said...

Speaking of comics references in rock 'n' roll, nearly 30 years ago I purchased the Pink Floyd lp A Nice Pair, a compilation of their first two albums, which included a photo of someone reading Dr. Strange comics; then there was the original album cover to their 2nd lp, Saucerful of Secrets with Dr. Strange prominantly on the cover, and finally a reference to the mystic in a lyric on yet another lp, although it refers to Dr. Strange "always changing size" which seems more apt for Dr. Pym! As for tv shows, I seem to recall that one of the children in Rosanne was a fan of Thor.

Chris said...

Also a big TBBT fan.

It must be the only show where a comic shop features so regularly.

Don't Warners own the show hence the predominance of DC references? Of course, when they need a comic book celeb they had to go for Stan.

At least you've tried it Karen. Can't ask for more than that.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I are fans of the Big Bang Theory--my wife more so than me, perhaps because she has to live with me! I think she identifies with Penny.

The currently-running (but alas, soon to be canceled) animated Brave and the Bold cartoon on the Cartoon Network is, in my opinion, the best cartoon adaptation of a comic ever. My son and I love it. Really captures the Silver-Agey fun side of Batman, and since each episode has a new guest-star, you get to see a broad spectrum of the DC universe. My favorite episode is the one where Batman visits 19-th century London to team up with Sherlock Holmes, Jason Bard, and the Demon.


William said...

I really like "The Big Bang Theory". It's consistently funny. Even my parents enjoy it. I love all the comic and pop culture references. It makes it unique amongst TV shows.

BTW, I read somewhere that the reason that they mostly focus on DC Comics characters is because Warner Brothers is the parent company of either the studio or the network involved in the show.

Anonymous said...

Karen said...
My husband and I have tried to watch Big Bang Theory a couple of times, but found the characters very annoying. I think they remind me a little too much of the customers I knew when I worked at a comic shop...

Hi Karen,
This is superb. Seriously, did you forget where you were when you wrote this? We ARE those customers !!

Fred – you made me remember another one ....the little girl in ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ (A Night on the Town) who is obsessed with Thor.


Doug said...

Richard --

Oh, no. My geekdom is definitely "inner". I am not "those guys".

But among friends like you here, I am fully out of the closet.

Commercial I absolutely LOVE (but alas, I can't recall the product) -- a couple of jocks are sitting at the cafeteria table discussing the most intricate baseball statistics. Three chess-team guys walk up, listen in for a second, and scoff, "Nerds!" Then triumphantly walk away, the jocks left embarrassed in their wake. Priceless.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Doug. I think Karen will be the judge of that.

(And she obviously is).

But seriously, a girl IN a comic book store is a dream come true for most teen nerds. An actual girl WORKING in a comic book store ? Can you imagine the sheer whirling vortex of testosterone-fuelled fantasy at which she must have been the epicentre?

No wonder she quit!


Doug said...

Actually, the manager of the LCS I sometimes-frequent (is that an oxymoron?) is a nice young lady (read -- she's younger than me). Very pro-industry, reads-and-recommends -- great advocate for comics of all stripes.

Most of the girls I see with comics here at school are into manga. I would say that any females with the interests Karen has are few and far between, from my limited perspective.

We are so blessed by her knowledge and enthusiasm!


david_b said...

I actually don't frequent comic stores any longer, other than to perhaps breath in the sweet aroma of freshly-offered comics, served daily.

I meander into one shop next to my barber shop (for my military haircut) once a month, and look at some of the cool Bowen busts and occasional freebies. They did have a nice line of comic boxes last month selling vintage Bronze love for a buck each. Nothing too valuable, but did pick up some later MTUs and Defenders.

I enjoy my stops because I still love the feel of local vendors over corporates. I do miss frequenting them weekly like in my college days when collecting fever struck again, but if I'm hunting for deals, I do admit to going on-line for books like Masterworks. This particular shop won't discount price them (which I know is fair..), but when I can pick up an Avengers hardcover online for $20, it's that old argument of budget vs. loyal patronage..?

Karen said...

Well I wasn't trying to stir anything up with my comic shop customer comment. I didn't mean the average comic geek; I'm talking about the extremely socially-challenged (sometimes hygienically challenged) creeps that probably make up less than 5% of all customers -but they have a huge impact. I may write up a post about my experiences as a comic shop clerk -it's been a very long time (30 years!) but some things just get burned into your psyche.


Anonymous said...

Man, forget those geeks! I watch Big Bang Theory just to see Kaley Cuoco! She's far out!

david_b said...


Your suggestion is wonderful, I'd love to see a write-up of your experiences. I'm surprised there isn't a book out now of short-stories based on 'Encounters from behind a comicbook store counter' or something.

Hygenically-challenged..? Jeez, try a hot summer in Europe, like the streets of Frankfurt or Prague. Deodorant is seldom used, shall we say..?

Karen said...

Hey David, one summer we had a visiting scientist from France working in our lab, and that's when I discovered that other countries have different concepts of hygiene! It was so bad that all of us went to our manager and told him he HAD to talk to the guy. Turned out not only was he unfamiliar with deodorant, he also had only brought 4 shirts and 2 pairs of pants with him for his 3 month stay! The kicker was, he wasn't washing any of them! Thankfully however he acceded to our demands.

Doug said...

You guys are snobs. I mean, I bathe once a month -- last day to be exact -- whether I need it or not.



Humanbelly said...

My lovely, brilliant wife- who watches almost no network television at all- watched an episode of TBBT on the recommendation of her sister. And she fell in love with it (which STILL astounds me to no end), and INSISTED that I watch a couple of episodes. I caught a couple, and found it to be laugh-til-it's-painful funny--- and got her the first season for Christmas. Truly, the only possible criticism is that, at about 20 minutes, each episode is too short-!

Probably one of the most brilliantly-cast sitcoms ever (I'll still reserve the top spot for good ol' Gilligan's Island), and there's an obvious camraderie and generosity among the cast members that completely carries over into their performances. Check out the outtake reels, and you totally get that sense.

One has to wonder if the writers have an official comic-book geek consultant on the payroll, 'cause the scripted conversations are DEAD-REAL. . . ! I find myself laughing at the actual topics of debate as much as at the interplay of the characters. . . !


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